Saturday, October 19, 2019

Chalk And Cheese

An extract from North Ronaldsay, Orkney Blog - 16th October 2019. 

“A fantastic day with birds everywhere, massive flocks of Thrushes moving across the island throughout the day; the huge rolling flocks of Redwings filling every field, coming in off the sea and dropping vertically out of the sky was something else! No real rarities were unearthed but it didn’t matter one jot with everyone just revelling in the spectacle unfolding in front of them; totals (largely underestimates) comprised 11 Herons, 3 Hen Harriers, 2 Merlin, 3 Jack Snipe, 283 Snipe, 13 Woodcock, 5 Short-eared Owls, 320 Robins, 2 Black Redstarts, 3 Redstarts, a Wheatear, 11 Ring Ouzels, 315 Blackbirds, 257 Fieldfare, 1,197 Song Thrush, 10,977 Redwing, 2 Mistle Thrushes. A brilliant day for the ringers with a total of 381 birds processed through the day”. 

Meanwhile on Saturday 19 October it was back to reality at Oakenclough where birding on North Ron’s scale is beyond our wildest dreams and ringing sessions mostly sedate. Chalk and Cheese spring to mind. 

I drove through patches of mist for our 0630 start. When I arrived fog enveloped the ringing station and stayed there for the first hour and more. Through the fog a few Redwings arrived and the first six birds to find the nets were Redwings. 

Slowly the rising sun burnt through the low cloud and by 0900 we were in bright sunshine. Visible migration today was stuttering with a piecemeal arrival of thrushes and finches until we packed in at 1120. 

Approximates - 125 Redwing, 40 Fieldfare, 10 Blackbird, 45 Chaffinch, 35 Goldfinch 20 Lesser Redpoll, 6 Greenfinch, 18 Woodpigeon. 32 Birds caught - 9 Goldfinch, 8 Lesser Redpoll, 6 Redwing 4 Chaffinch, 3 Coal Tit, 1 Blackbird, 1 Great Tit. 

Lesser Redpoll - adult male 

Lesser Redpoll - adult male 

Chaffinch - first year male 



Redwings are smaller than one might imagine, slighter than a Blackbird, slimmer than a Song Thrush and the perfect size to fit in the palm of the hand.  We fit a size "CC" ring on a Redwing and the larger "C" ring on a Blackbird. 

Although Oakenclough is woodland edge habitat we catch very few Blackbirds. The young male today was a first year bird and almost certainly a migrant rather than a local bird. 


We received more information about a ringed Lesser Redpoll, ARC5449 caught here at Oakenclough on 14 October 2019. The latest news told us that it was first caught and ringed at Ramsley Reservoir, Derbyshire, UK on 14 December 2018. The quite late date in December suggests that this particular redpoll, an adult male, might be a fairly sedentary individual able to winter in more sheltered areas of Britain rather than a traveller to more distant shores. A ringing recovery like this often raises more questions than it answers. 

Lesser Redpoll - Ramsley Reservoir, Derbyshire to Oakenclough 

More news and pictures soon from Another Bird Blog.

Linking this post to Anni's Birding Blog.


Rhodesia said...

Well done it looks like you had a great day. Hope al well Diane

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I had to read your list out to my hubby! We see a LOT of birds here in Florida but this is amazing....hard to even imagine! What a fabulous time to be there! Enjoy your weekend!

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Good evening Phil: I think that it is time we book our trip to North Ronaldsay. The migration there seems nothing short of fantastic and I would love to be part of that phenomenon. I guess we have to be happy with what we get in our local areas. Tomorrow we will open our nets for the last time this fall. Winter migrants have now started to arrive now. i saw the first Dark-eyed Junco of the fall in the backyard this morning.

Hootin' Anni said...

I love finding the migratory history of ringed birds ... those winged friends are amazing creatures!! As are those that have a passion for the ringing itself.

The numbers are astounding.

For registering your link to this post for us birders at I'd Rather B Birdin' this week, I thank you. Have a spectacular day.

EricaSta said...

Wonderful captures.

Happy MosaicMonday... I enjoyed your Post,
wish you a good week.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Amazing list of birds!

eileeninmd said...


Sounds like an awesome day, with great sightings. The Redpoll and the Chaffinch are my favorites. Your photos are beautiful. Enjoy your day, wishing you a great week ahead.

Fun60 said...

That must have been an amazing sight on North Ronaldsay but you didn't do too badly yourself.

Powell River Books said...

That's an impressive list of birds during your viewing. We are down to just a few different resident varieties here in lower mainland BC. - Margy

colleen said...

I'm in love (that first bird).

Angie said...

Phil - I know you aren't satisfied with your numbers, but for the rest of us, your pictures are wonderful. As I write this, I am looking out the window into the garden at my in-laws' house, trying to identify some of the birds I see. Sigh. Need an expert!

Lowcarb team member said...

Well, I don't think you did badly …
I think it's good to find out the migratory history of ringed birds, it's interesting … but then some will be more interesting than others.
Sort of a bit like my usual trip to the shops or going a bit farther afield! LOL!

Seriously, keep spotting those birds, we enjoy your posts :)

All the best Jan

NCSue said...

I'm always a bit surprised to see how much our birds vary from one side of the pond to the other.
Thanks for sharing at

Related Posts with Thumbnails