Friday, September 28, 2018

Colder than Greece

Boreas the Greek God who brings winter winds tried his best to stop us leaving Skiathos on Tuesday night and early Wednesday. But by Wednesday lunchtime he’d run out of puff but the leftover headwind meant the plane had a flying start and didn't need a refuel at Kavala as planned. Most unusually, Manchester was bathed in sunshine when we landed an hour early. 

There was some catching up for me when I met Andy at Oakenclough on Friday morning where the temperature hovered around 6° rather than the accustomed 25° of Greece. In two weeks of my absence Andy had dodged the rain and caught over 250 birds with the usual good mix of species including Bullfinch, Meadow Pipits and yet more Mistle Trushes. 

It was a similar story today with 33 captures of 12 species, only one of which was a recapture from recent days - 8 Chaffinch, 6 Meadow Pipit, 6 Goldfinch, 2 Mistle Thrush, 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 2 Dunnock, 1 Treecreeper, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Great Tit, 1 Blue Tit and 1 Song Thrush. 

We have discovered that we can catch Mistle Thrushes up here in the Pennines, more so in the autumn when the species is on the move and when small parties or single birds pass overhead or stop off at our ringing site. These birds may be the remnants of post-breeding flocks that disperse towards the coast or lowlands for the winter whereby we have seen up to 60-80 on occasions. Equally they may be pure migrants from further afield but it is impossible to be sure to which category an individual belongs. 

The six of this week have all been of first year/juvenile age. 

Mistle Thrush 

Mistle Thrush 

The single Song Thrush (a first year/juvenile) seemed to have some weakness in the feather structure of both wing and tails. The outer primary feathers were very worn and faded while the tips and ends of every tail feather had completely worn away. 

Song Thrush 

Song Thrush 

Song Thrush

90% or more of the Meadow Pipits we catch in the autumn are first year/juveniles with their characteristic mix of juvenile and post-partial moult feathers. Below is a fine example of an adult wing in September; this adult has completed a full moult so that all of the coverts, secondaries, primaries and tertials are of the same age and colour. The whole wing looks uniform across its width as opposed to a first year wing with a mix of feather ages. Similarly, each tail feather is new and fresh as well as wide at and near the tips. The tail of a September juvenile/first year is straggly, thin, and worn with a much more pointed appearance. 

Meadow Pipit - adult 

Meadow Pipit 

The morning was rather clear with a good number of birds passing high overhead. Mostly, and from their calls they appeared to be Chaffinches, as confirmed by Chaffinch being the most ringed bird of the morning. Otherwise we caught not a single Redpoll or Siskin, but 3 Linnets seen here is very unusual. 


Take a look at that pointy tail – another first year/juvenile female Blackcap. 


Chiffchaffs have been so scarce this year that it was most pleasing to catch two this morning. Both juvenile/ first years. 


Birding in-between ringing clocked up lingering summer visitors in the shape of 4 Swallows and a single Yellow Wagtail. 

Otherwise, 8 Pied Wagtail, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Nuthatch, 5 Cormorant, 40 + Lapwing and 300+ Greylag Geese on and around the nearby reservoir.

Linking today with Anni's Blog and Eileen's Blogspot.


Rhodesia said...

I would love to see what I call a proper thrush here, but all we see are blackbirds, robins and redstarts, all of which I am happy to see, but a song thrush or mistle thrush would be fabulous.
Glad you got home safely and even arrived in the sun 😊
Enjoy your weekend Diane

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Welcome home, Phil. Just a quick word from Australia where we are having a fabulous time with many great birds - and other adventures too. Highlights so far.......many.......but right up there are Barn Owl, Powerful Owl and Tawny Frogmouth. The parrots, cockatoos and lorikeets are a daily delight. So much to see and do! Make sure you wear your snuggies when banding at 6 degrees. À bientît! David

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Phil! Welcome home. The weather sounds delightful in Greece. It is starting to feel like fall here. Your thrushes are lovely. I like the spots on the Mistle Thrush and the pretty Song Thrush. Beautiful birds and photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your day and weekend.

A Colorful World said...

Sorry you didn't have better weather! (OK, maybe I got it backwards...I was thinking it was colder than normal...was it warmer?) Loved the thrush photos, especially seeing those tail and wing feathers.

Adam Jones said...

Great post Phil. Do you have any idea as to why the Thrush is in such poor condition? Hopefully it will be fine.

italiafinlandia said...

Welcome back to your very special activity!
Interesting series, as usual.

Lowcarb team member said...

Welcome home …
Lovely to see your photographs here, a great selection.

Enjoy your weekend, and happy October - well it will soon be here :)

All the best Jan

Anni said...

Your contribution this week was awesome, as always. Thanks for joining us at I'd Rather B Birdin'

I was thinking of you (last week) when I posted about a couple of banded piping plovers with pictures & certificates I received by reporting them to

Love your informative post & photos.

Angie said...

Welcome home, Phil. Thanks for the ongoing education on first year/mature birds. What would explain the Song Thrush with some weakness in the feather structure of both wing and tails?

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