Thursday, March 4, 2021

End Of The Road

We're near the end of our Linnet winter. To some, it may seem odd that wintering flocks are breaking up during the cold days of early March, but that's how it is just now. Spring starts early in the world of birds. About the same time as daffodils and crocuses poke their heads through the winter frosts. 


At Gulf Lane this morning the once tight Linnet flock is now down to twenty or so individuals where the gathering is loose and fluid. There are males in song too, a sure sign that spring has replaced winter and when a Linnets' thoughts turn to priorities anew. 

With the early and then late lockdowns, plus the uncooperative weather of 2020 and early 2021 our catch of birds here for the winter period stands at 78 Linnet, 3 Reed Bunting, 2 Stonechat,1 Skylark and 1 Chaffinch. Those numbers include our somewhat poor showing this morning of just 4 birds ringed – 3 Linnets and 1 Reed Bunting. 

But better still, our Project Linnet total now sees 819 Linnets ringed over the last five winters commencing in October 2016. We also have assurances from Richard the farmer that his field will soon be drilled ready for the next crop in time for our winter of ringing in 2021/22. 

This morning began with a local Barn Owl, a fly past only, but a welcome sight while preparing the catching area.  

Barn Owl
Our task may sound easy. Hide in a a car and drop a net over a few dozy birds. A piece of cake you might say. Well no, it's a little more complicated than it may appear. 

For starters those Linnets are hot wired for an instant take off should danger threaten. After all, they spend half their tiny lives on the lookout for Sparrowhawks and Merlins, the two most deadly predators of small birds. And then there's the occasional opportunist Kestrel that passes above their head or the Magpie or Carrion Crow looking for an easy meal of Linnet chicks. Or the likelihood that their nest or night time roost may be discovered by night raiders like owls, stoats or weasels. 

A couple of bleary eyed ringers trying to literally catch them out is just another hazard of a Linnets' existence. If only they knew that we are actually trying to help? 

With so few Linnets around this week we'd already decided that we would go for small numbers rather than wait for a larger flock that would probably not materialise. And so it was, with just 2 adult male Linnets, a first year female Linnet and an adult Reed Bunting to show for our efforts. 

Reed Bunting 



Other birds this morning included a Kestrel, 2 Little Egret, 3 Reed Bunting, 4 Skylark, Barn Owl, 3 Stock Dove. 


Come back soon for more news, views and photos. 

Linking on Saturday to Anni in Texas and Eileen's Saturday Blogspot.


Rhodesia said...

I know it is not easy. I used to do ringing with my boss, a wildlife vet in Rhodesia when I was in my early 20's but maybe it is a bit more sophisticated now than then. 819 Linnets in 5 winters sounds pretty good to me!
Keep up the good work. Diane

Wally Jones said...

If my morning birding trip began with sighting a Barn Owl, I would likely call it a day and go home to celebrate for the rest of the day!

Even though your ringing efforts seemed small to you, it adds to the overall data base which may lead to helping our avian friends in the long term. Once again, kudos to you and all who give of their time to make such efforts.

Just now, in the back yard, one feeder has a male Cardinal feeding a female and on another feeder a (presumed male) Blue Jay is also giving a seed to a (presumed) female. Spring must be very close!

Have a wonderful weekend, Phil! Here is hoping you have good weather and successful ringing.

Stevenson Q said...

I've always been afraid of the beautiful face of barn owls. They are very mysterious and there is something in their stares that seem to be very human-like. Love these kestrels Phil! Glad to see Spring is going on bloom out there. Summer has started here as February ended and the heat is so bad now as early as now! What more May and June ughhh

Stay safe and hydrated!

Lowcarb team member said...

Lovely to see the Barn Owl fly by in your photograph.
Also nice to see the Reed Bunting and Linnet pictures.
The Kestrel has lovely markings.

Happy Friday and weekend wishes.

All the best Jan

DVArtist said...

These are stunning photos especially the barn owl in flight. Have a nice evening.

Christine said...

Nice to see daffodils.

Elkes Lebensglück said...

Wonderful birds photo! Interesting your report!
Beautiful weekend, Elke

Ella said...

And the little birds are really on your hand?
The barn owl in flight is really beautiful!

Tracey@Hotchpotchcreations said...

So nice to see these sweet birds up close, the closest I get is my bird feeder stand two feet away from my kitchen window. Seeing the barn owl in flight makes my heart sing a magnificent sight, stunning photographs. Thanks for sharing.
Best wishes Tracey.

eileeninmd said...

Hello, Phil

Your banding report sounds good to me, nice catch. I love the Barn Owl and the Kestrel.
The Reed Bunting and Linnets are pretty birds and I love the daffodils. Great series of photos. Looks like spring has arrived. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, enjoy your weekend!

Shiju Sugunan said...

Nice bunch of Daffodils poking their head. Love the Barn owl picture.

Andrea @ From The Sol said...

Your birds are beautiful and I agree, if only they knew you were helping them. Love the Barn Owl ... they are handsome and also often talkative birds. Enjoyed this post and especially the coming of spring :)

Andrea @ From The Sol

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

How beautiful to photograph the barn owl in flight! It's perfect! And your Spring flowers are very pretty too. Enjoy your weekend!

Linda said...

Excellent pictures! I love that owl.

Anni said...

Your numbers for the last five years looks good to me, but I'm sure you two would like a higher count. I see it this way tho...what you and Andy do is a great step in educating scientists and birding enthusiasts!! I for one appreciate all you do. (Always enjoy your photos Phil).

For stopping by IRBB, I thank you for sharing your conversation & photos!!

Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil,:=) I second what Anni wrote! You really do do a great job, in all weather conditions.

Linnets have a hard life for sure! They are precious little birds. Love your shot of the Owl Phil, and the Kestrel.

We have many different conifer trees, not just pine, including Spruce, Yews, Firs, Cedars, and a couple of Cypress evergreens, which attract the birds, but make it very difficult to see them.

Rain said...

Hi Phil :) The Reed Bunting is a beautiful bird. And what a great shot of the Barn Owl!!! I love birds in flight!! I think it's so cool that you ring birds. I'm sure it's very challenging! I do appreciate seeing your photos and your efforts!!

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