Saturday, March 25, 2017

Saturday Shift

I was a little delayed at seeing the -2°on the dash and waiting for frost to clear from the windscreen. I was motoring up to Oakenclough to meet Andy for a 0630 start to a ringing session. 

There was a little light, so rather than the main road journey with zero birds, I opted to head across the empty moss roads where there might be a Barn Owl or two looking for breakfast. 

Rawcliffe Moss, Lancashire

Success came with two hunting Barn Owls, the first at Stalmine and then another at Nateby. I paused briefly, mainly to make sure the owls flew away from the danger of the road before continuing north and east. 

Barn Owl

I sometimes wonder if the Barn Owl has fully adapted to the motor vehicle and to railways. Studies show that while starvation is a major factor, collision with vehicles is the leading cause of recorded deaths of Barn Owls. In some cases over 50% of all recorded deaths were attributable to some form of collision or other accident and within this category the most prevalent are road traffic victims, which form approximately 45% of all deaths. 

"Natural’ causes" account for roughly 30% of all recorded Barn Owl deaths. The most important is starvation, circa 25% of all deaths, followed by disease/parasitism at 3% and then predation at approximately 2%. Minor causes included other forms of trauma, drowning in water-troughs, and electrocution. 

This vulnerability to external factors shows why the population of Barn Owls fluctuates dramatically from one year to the next and also explains why the species has special legal protection in the UK. 

Our ringing session was fairly quiet with no obvious signs of migration other than once again, a decent catch of returning Lesser Redpolls. One of the Lesser Redpolls, an adult male with ring sequence beginning S211 proved to be from elsewhere. It’s always good to catch a bird from elsewhere in the expectation of finding out where the bird spent some of its earlier life. The unfamiliar ring number is now sent to the BTO and the original ringing details will be forwarded to us a later date. 

Today’s birds: 11 Lesser Redpoll, 2 Siskin, 2 Goldfinch, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Long-tailed Tit, 1 Goldcrest. We caught our first Goldcrest of the year. With a wing length of 49mm and weight of 4.9 grams the bird tallied with the ringers’ rule that the two figures are always a decimal point apart. 


Below, the two Siskins – adult male and adult female. Siskin migration seems a little "thin" this year whereas Lesser Redpoll movement so far appears to be up to scratch. 



Below is adult male Lesser Redpoll S211etc, ringed elsewhere.

Lesser Redpoll

Below are details of Lesser Redpolls moving to or from Oakenclough since recommencing ringing here in late 2014.    

Ringed 02/02/14 Market Drayton, Shropshire - adult male
Recaptured 14/03/15 Oakenclough, Lancashire (116 km, N, 1 yr 40days)
Ringed 11/01/14 Walkden, Manchester, Greater Manchester - second year male
Recaptured 18/03/16 Oakenclough, Lancashire (49 km, NNW, 2 yrs 67days)
Ringed 29/09/14 Woolston Eyes, Warrington-  adult female
Recaptured 20/04/16 Oakenclough, Lancashire (60 km, NNW, 1 yr 204days)
S109508  Ringed 05/03/16 Dales Brow, Swinton, Greater Manchester - second year female
Recaptured 31/03/16 Oakenclough, Lancashire (52 km, NNW, 26 days)

Today's clear skies and little visible migration meant that “birding birds” were few and far between with 4 Pied Wagtail, 1 Reed Bunting, 2 Mistle Thrush and 5 Long-tailed Tits the best we could muster.

Linking today to Anni who too would rather be birding.


Linda said...

A beautiful and captivating series, Phil! And I just want to reach out and gently stroke the Lesser Redpoll on the head. :)

Breathtaking said...

Good Morning Phil!:) Beautiful captures!:) So pleased you can finally get back to ringing birds again. Your weather must be better than ours then, as here it is horrendous. It hailed so heavily and thickly yesterday afternoon that the evidence was still apparent on our white covered lawn this morning. I was surprised to read that collision with vehicles is the leading cause of Owl fatalities. I would have thought their acute auditory capabilities would have alerted them to this danger. These beautiful birds really do have a tough life.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

When I saw your title I thought you had a special item of clothing for Saturdays! Something chic to make you appealing at the banding station. Barn Owls are magnificent creatures to be sure and it is sobering to think of the daily obstacles they face. We are set to resume banding 29 April....maybe even a week earlier.

Anni said...

That redpoll portrait is my absolute favorite! Such awesome detail in that image Phil.

That is a startling statistic about owls/vehicle collisions. Wow.

Oh and one more thing? That's a cold morning start! I'd linger a while longer in a warm blanket before heading out for any birding. But you saw those beautiful creatures...I do love owls. [guess that's why they call me Hootin' Anni!]

Thanks so much for adding your link, sharing with all of us other birders around the world!!

Have a great week ahead--
Anni @ I'd Rather B Birdin'

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Phil. I love all these beautiful birds and photos. I would love to join in on a ringing just to see these beauties up close. The Siskin and Redpoll are a couple of my favorites. Happy Birding, enjoy your day!

Patrycja P. said...

What an amazing photo of Barn Owl! I've never seen this beautiful bird. Congratulations!

Jenn Jilks said...

We're hovering around -2, as well!
I've enjoyed our birds. They are all twitterpated, even though it's not yet time!
I'm glad you liked my Dyson post! Amazing man.

Stuart Price said...

I was watching Goldcrests and Siskins just this very morning............

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

A busy and beautiful day! The Siskin in particular looks like he is happy to visit fear at all.

Fun60 said...

Interesting facts about the barn owls.

Lowcarb team member said...

Seems you had a good day!
Lovely photo's, I think my favourite is the Lesser Redpoll.

Enjoy your week

All the best Jan

carol l mckenna said...

Love the redpoll ~ all wonderful photos! ~ thanks,

Wishing you a fun week ~ thanks ~ ^_^

Lady Fi said...

Wonderful shots. I love that barn owl.

Unknown said...

Great photos - love that barn owl!! : )

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Spring has arrived in full glory over here and I hope that your side of the Big Pond is as well. The Barn Owl...they always make me happy. I had word twice in recent times of a sighting of one about 15 miles from here, about where I thought that I saw one at dawn a year ago, but then they both turned out to be one of my favorite Barred Owls from what others later told me. Have a wonderful birding week and take good care~

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