Sunday, August 27, 2017

Visit 4

Saturday was Visit 4 to our Project Linnet 2017/2018. With darker mornings and the evenings drawing in we make a slightly later start; fifteen minutes a week is the rule until the Autumn solstice. 

I met up with Andy at Gulf Lane at 0630 and even then we waited a while for the first Linnets to arrive. Our three previous August visits realised catches of 49, 37 and 43 Linnets respectively with not a single recapture from this year or the last. Such a huge turnover of birds for one small area! 

Although we counted circa 300 birds in the air at any one time today, not all were Linnets. The Linnets had been joined through the week by a flock of some 60+ Goldfinches. The Goldfinches had found their own niche by exploiting in particular a plant that resembled a tall dandelion but which may be sow thistle. The heads of the plant are stuffed with tiny black seeds, spot on for the species' fine ppointy bill. Meanwhile the Linnets preferred to feed out of sight, on the ground and on seed dropped by the maturing plants.

Sow Thistle?

Goldfinch food
Goldfinch on Common Thistle

After a number of guesses we concluded the huge flock to be split approximately 250+ Linnet and 50+ Goldfinch, the flocks now concentrating on the abundance of natural foods and relying less on our dried rape seed from a sack. However we did catch more Linnets, plus our first Goldfinch, in total 16 Linnet and 4 Goldfinch. 

Naturally enough our catch was dominated again by juveniles/first year birds, all four Goldfinch and 12 of the 16 Linnets. All of the Goldfinches we catch at this time of the year appear to be third broods, whereas the young Linnets we catch are definitely some weeks older and most part way through their post-juvenile moult. 



Part of the UK’s Goldfinch’s success story of recent years is down to its ability to exploit a wide range of nesting and feeding opportunities in orchards, hedgerows, open cultivated land, woodland edge, and perhaps crucially in recent years, gardens and suburban tree-lined streets. 

In contrast, the less adventurous Linnet population may be held back and in decline due to its dependence on gorse, rough uncultivated land and the traditional farmland habitat of the UK. Linnets are rarely found in gardens and orchards whereas the Goldfinch is now the most common bird in many gardens, especially where food is offered. 


Other birds seen today - 1 Peregrine, 1 Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 40+ Swallow, 2 Stock Dove, 3 Little Egret, 100+ Greylag Goose. 


Back soon with more news and views. 


eileeninmd said...

Hello, love the cute Goldfinch and the awesome buzzard in flight. Great photos. Happy Birding. Happy Sunday, enjoy your day and the new week ahead!

Gordon said...

its quite hartening to see the numbers you are quoting Phil, and I would say yes to Sow thistle they do tend to have thistle like leaves.
On a ride by the solway today with my Daughter,I was explaing to her what you do as regards ringing, and saying what a brilliant job you and many other ringers do.And you do it without expectation of reward or thank you. Well i'm thanking you. All the best, Gordon.

Linda said...

How beautiful, Phil! And all the birds look as if they are posing for your photo shoot! :)

David Gascoigne said...

Nice work as always, Phil. I have been following your Linnet exploits with great interest and that interest has not waned. Congratulations on fine work and a continued level of dedication that is commendable indeed.

colleen said...

Feathers and feathers. Make a wish!

Fun60 said...

i always enjoy photos of goldfinches.

Lowcarb team member said...

Counting circa 300 birds sounds good to me!
Great pictures again.

All the best Jan

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