Saturday, September 7, 2019

Spotted Saturday

If August is predictable as warblers and Swallows journey south to Africa, September is less so. 

Just this week saw the first returning Pink-footed Geese when a gaggle of around 200 flew over Pilling and then to the salt marsh beyond; the geese seem to arrive earlier each year. And then the weather turned more autumnal with strong winds and high tides that blew petrels, skuas, manxies, fulmars and gulls closer to shore. 

Manx Shearwater 

Pink-footed Goose

On Saturday came a break in the squalls when a ridge of high pressure built from the North West. With it came a chance of ringing at Oakenclough but with less certainty about what we might catch given the arrival of September. Would it be a morning of finches, warblers, pipits and wagtails, or perhaps a mix with a few of each? 

It was 0600 when Andy and I met at the ringing station to a cold easterly and 9 degrees C. The cold start gave a slow opening to the catch but as the morning warmed more birds arrived, especially the diurnal migrant, Meadow Pipit. Missing from our catch today were Willow Warblers, a regular feature here during June, July and August, but replaced now by Goldcrests, a September species for sure. 

The really noticeable migrant today was Meadow Pipit with a count of 100+ in steady and small arrivals from the north, a number reflected in our catch of 36 birds and 8 species - 14 Meadow Pipit, 6 Goldcrest, 5 Blackcap, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Goldfinch, 2 Robin, 1 Blue Tit, 1 Chaffinch. 

The surprise bird today was Spotted Flycatcher, not one but two individuals, both first years, but caught three hours apart. It’s a species that we catch quite rarely although we suspect that some bred quite close to here this year. 

Spotted Flycatcher 

The Chiffchaff wing shows a shape and formula that is quite different to its close relative the Willow Warbler i.e. the short 2nd primary feather, “rounded” wing shape (3, 4 and 5 of very similar length), and emargination to the 6th primary feather. 



Below is the wing of an adult Meadow Pipit that displays uniform olive tones, the squared olive/buff tips to the median coverts without “teeth”, well-defined margins of the greater coverts, plus tertials all of the same age. 

Ageing Meadow Pipits can be more difficult when birds born early in the season display many characteristics of adults, with sometimes just a few pale buff juvenile feathers left. The fourteen Meadow Pipits today split 11/3 in favour of first years but similarly sized catches might easily contain no adults, especially so as autumn progresses. 

Meadow Pipit 

Meadow Pipit 

All of our Blackcaps were first year birds, four female, one male, and one likely male with hints of a black cap. 


Other birds today - 2 Jay, 15+ Swallow, 2 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 1 Nuthatch.

Linking this post to Anni's Saturday Birding.


Wally Jones said...

Seeing the shearwaters and geese gives me hope some day our weather will cool a bit. Your count of passerines gives me hope we will soon see more fall migrants. Counts have been sparse to date, but that is not unexpected.

We had no ill effects from Hurricane Dorian but feel for those who are suffering.

Hopefully, the weather will cooperate for you to enjoy some fruitful ringing as the migration rolls on.

Gini and I hope your weekend is great!

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Hello Phil: I am happy to see the Spotted Flycatcher. This is a species I saw almost every day on visits to the UK forty or so years ago, but in recent years it has been very hard to find. It must have been quite the experience to have some of those pelagic species so close to shore. The only time I have ever seen a Manx Shearwater was off the coast of Maine - one bird, one time. And I must confess that had there not been a couple of experienced seabirders on the boat I would not have been able to identify it.

italiafinlandia said...

Fine shots, as always. The Blackcap is very beautiful...

Hootin' Anni said...

You two had a glorious day sighting all the waterfowl...then, catching and banding the September birds. Wow...I really think the spotted flycatcher is beautiful!!

Thank you for linking up with us this weekend, at I'd Rather B Birdin'.

Anne (cornucopia) said...

Great bird photos.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

It's hard to imagine being that cold already but it looks like it was a good day. I love that cute spotted flycatcher! And the geese are especially beautiful in flight. Thanks for weighing in on my warbler. I remember you telling me to get some good ID books...and I have some now! Enjoy your week!

Lady Fi said...

Wonderful shots!

Photo Cache said...

Wow, you are able to hold them?

Worth a Thousand Words

eileeninmd said...


Looks like a great outing. I like the Manx Shearwater. The Chiffchaff is a cute bird. Wonderful sightings and photos. Happy Monday, wishing you a great day and happy new week!

Fun60 said...

A good day's work.

betty-NZ said...

What a great way to get lots of birdie photos while you're helping them out!
A great variety of pretties :)

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