Wednesday, November 10, 2021


Monday morning I devote to the school run, transporting two of the grandkids to their school a mile or two away while their mum heads off to work and a 0830 start. That’s not to say there’s no birding or ringing for me because I later caught up with Andy at our Pilling ringing site at 0900. 

He’d already had some success by catching a couple of Redwings, a few more Linnets and three “Continental” Blackbirds. 

Almost three-quarters of the Blackbirds breeding in this country may be resident but others winter in France and yet others (particularly from Scotland and northern England) head for Ireland. Their places here are occupied by migrants from Scandinavia, Denmark and Germany. Some of these Blackbirds, more noticeably the males, display “continental” like features of sooty colouration, entirely dark bills, scalloped breast feathers and finely speckled throats. 

A southerly breeze and blowy net hindered our Linnet catch but we still gathered another seven individuals and so reached a total of 204 for this autumn. This is a great result so far with more to come and thanks are due to Farmers R and H for their support & encouragement during this and other years.  

There’s no shortage of Greenfinch so far this autumn as testified by our catching of another nine that gave a total of 50 Greenfinch here during September, October and early November. 

After a number of years in the population doldrums there’s little doubt that “green linnets”, Greenfinches, made something of a comeback during 2021. 

Total birds caught on Monday - 7 Linnet, 9 Greenfinch, 3 Blackbird, 2 Redwing, 1 Wren, 1 Blue Tit. 

On Tuesday the rain lasted all day long, not good for the already muddy paths we planned to tread on Wednesday morning. 

Wednesday seemed fine at 0630 until we started to erect the first net and then half way through came a few spots of rain that became even heavier when the heavens opened. There was no option but to carry on and then close the net until the rain stopped after about fifteen minutes. 

The sky remained grey and overcast, the morning quite unlike the one forecast except for a welcome wind of zero.  We caught 14 new birds - 6 Linnet, 3 Chaffinch, 2 Greenfinch, 1 Robin, 1 Wren and 1 Blackbird. 


Understandably the Linnets seemed reluctant to drop and feed in the saturated seed plot with the maximum seen about 60 birds milling around in contrast to the bigger flocks of late. It was as if by some unknown method of communication the Linnets knew to go elsewhere for a feed.  

The second year male Blackbird was another “continental” type with an above average wing length of 133mm and a healthy weight of 101gm. 

At this time of year it’s not only thrushes that may come from further afield and it was striking this morning how all three Chaffinches were not only adults but also of slightly larger dimensions than typical UK Chaffinches. The males came in at wing lengths of 92mm and 90mm respectively while the female’s wing gave up a whopping measurement of 87mm. 


In between birding was hindered by the weather but we noted good numbers of Lapwing, Curlew and Starling. 

We watched a Sparrowhawk very nearly take a Linnet in flight, a drama eclipsed by the sight of a Merlin in relentless, twisting, turning and stooping dive bombing pursuit of a single Linnet. After a few close shaves the Linnet finally evaded capture when after a minute or so the Merlin gave up the chase to rest on a fence post. 

Birding doesn't get much better than encounters like those two.

Linking this weekend to Eileen's Saturday and Anni in Texas.



Mike Attwood said...

I am glad you have some birds to photograph Phil. It is getting worse over my way. At least I have my foxes. Good photo's.

Angie said...

Phil - it's such a nice change to read a positive birding report from you - yay! Love the first picture of the blackbird, held so closely - looks so alert! We have been back in Montana for five days, having truly enjoyed our two weeks in the UK! And no, no trip to Lancashire this time!

Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil,:=) What a handsome Blackbird. Their black beaks also look a tad longer than the familiar yellow beaked Blackbird. Even in dull weather your photos turned out well. The picture of the female Chaffinch with fanned tail is lovely. Every morning I see a dozen or so Greenfinch on my balcony. Many more than usual,...I just wish they didn't always look so grumpy.:=)

It would have been wonderful to have witnessed the dramatic chase you saw. Bravo to the little Linnet for outwitting both the Sparrow Hawk and the Merlin!
All the best.

Breathtaking said...

Phil. thank you for the ID of the yellow breasted Warbler. I had done quite a bit of research, and had come to the conclusion that it was either a Willow Warbler or Wood Warbler, but it's great to be certain. Thank you.

Rain said...

Phil, those are some beautiful photos. The Blackbirds are gorgeous! And what you said on my blog, it's a shame about Remembrance Day there...geez...such ingrates to want to wipe it out of existence. I find that society has become quite self-entitled, awful.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil,

Wonderful catches for the day, all the birds are beautiful. The Blackbird is handsome, great closeups. Maybe it is related to our Rusty Blackbird. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a happy weekend!

Shiju Sugunan said...

So nice to know the birds are all doing well. Amazing number of catches.
Looks like the linnets are good at evading capture.

My latest post:

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

The Merlin would be something to see. We have to get out there when we can! Enjoy your weekend!

Wally Jones said...

Despite the weather still not being very cooperative, you seem to be doing pretty well in the birding and ringing departments. Perhaps it's a good thing the weather isn't better or you might be overwhelmed!

The chase scenes at the end of the post would definitely have made my day!

Our dry season has begun so, naturally, the last three days it has rained. Sigh.

Road trip to Texas next week to see number one son and family. Hopefully, will sneak in a day or two of birding.

Take good care.

Linda said...

Interesting post. Glad the linnets evaded a sad fate.

Anni said...

Your week read like a program on PBS Nature!!! I was excited for you two (the numbers were terrific in my opinion)! And such glorious markings. That continental blackbird is stunning.

I thank you for taking the time from your day to share this with us at IRBB this week.

Bob Bushell said...

Brilliant birds Phil, hand held.

Lowcarb team member said...

That was certainly a day for some great catches.
Lovely to see your photographs of the birds.

All the best Jan

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