Thursday, April 21, 2022

This And That

Tuesday 19 April - There was no traffic on the road when in the semi darkness a Barn Owl drifted across the road ahead. It’s a regular spot for Barn Owls and best visited when there’s a little more light. I pulled up, clicked a few shots and then motored on to my real destination. 

Barn Owl

When I arrived at the Pilling ringing site, all was quiet and the temperature gauge showed -1.5°C so I elected to employ just two nets, one at a time, so as to warm my hands in between. I reckoned that there would not be too many new birds around following the clear frosty night. 

I was right. Just 4 birds caught, 2 Blackcaps (male and female), 1 Reed Bunting and 1 Willow Warbler. 



Reed Bunting

Willow Warbler

There was little else to see or to hear during the “one bird an hour” session. Although local reports mention other insectivores like Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Grasshopper Warbler , Redstart, Sedge Warbler, Whinchat and Swallows, the numbers are low, and those same species have yet to appear at our ringing site. 

Still, it wasn’t too bad sitting in the now warming sun, coffee and hot-cross bun at hand,  day dreaming of birds yet to come in May, home or away. 

Email news arrived of adult male Lesser Redpoll APN5870 caught at our ringing site Oakenclough, Nr Garstang on 14 April. It was another of the regular south to north movements that we have come to expect with our redpoll captures. 

In this case APN5870 was first ringed 62 days before in a suburban garden in Bracknell, Berkshire on 11 February 2022. This redpoll may have wintered in south-east England however I tend to think that it had more likely wintered across the English Channel and in February it was already migrating north to its eventual destination some way north of Oakenclough. 

Lesser Redpoll - Bracknell to Oakenclough

Perhaps the redpoll was looking to join with the huge numbers of Lesser Redpolls in the birch woods of Scotland. 

While not strictly “garden birds” Lesser Redpolls will visit bird feeders at certain times of year when their natural foods become scarce. The species seems to prefer niger seed (aka thistle or Nyjer), but the seed must be fresh and aromatic when they are more likely to find it and to return day after day. The species’ natural food is the seeds from birch, alder and spruce.

Lesser Redpoll
Like most finches, the redpoll family are susceptible to salmonellosis because of their flocking behaviour, therefore garden feeding enthusiasts must have a scrupulous bird feeder cleaning regime. 

On Thursday morning I checked out our Sand Martin colony to see how many had arrived and so as to guess when might be the first visit for ringing purposes. A stiff easterly wind blew dust and sand across the face of the colony as about 15-20 Sand Martins circled around. 

Sand Martin colony

None seemed interested in returning to old excavations but it was rather a cold morning for builders. I pencilled mid-June into the memory hole. 

Nearby were two pairs of Oystercatcher and a pair of Pied Wagtails, both of them probably a little further on with their year than the Sand Martins; especially since the Oystercatcher tried to see me off site in case I found his partner sat on eggs. 

Back soon with more this and that. Don’t go away. 

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


Anu said...

Hello Phil. It seems that spring is longer there than here in Finland.
The Sand martin colony looks absolutely awesome.
Have a wonderful weekend!

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil,

Awesome sightings, the Barn owl is a favorite and I love the Oystercatcher in Flight. The Redpoll, Reed Bunting, Willow Warbler and Blackcap are sweet birds. I hope the Sand martin Colony is a success this season. Great series of photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, enjoy you day and happy weekend. PS, thank you for leaving me a comment.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I love seeing everything you post...all the this and that! The Sand Martins are amazing! But of course the owl in flight is my favorite photo today! Happy weekend!

Rostrose said...

Dear Phil,
a bird every hour isn't much, but it's better than no bird at all - and you've caught very nice specimens. The Lesser Redpoll is a handsome fellow too. I was particularly impressed by the Sand Martin colony - it also reminds me very much of our visit to the bee-eater colony in Bratislava (here is my post about it: bratislava-and-by.html )
All the best and happy weekend!

Rostrose said...

Here is the Bee Eater-link once again, I saw it didn't work:

Wally Jones said...

I know you would have preferred higher numbers of birds visiting the nets, but just think how bad you would have felt if you had remained in bed!

No chance of spotting the Barn Owl or showing us the beauty of the four birds you did ring. Not to mention we got an update on a Redpoll's journey, a look at the incredibly interesting condominium complex awaiting Martin occupancy and an outstanding photograph of an Oystercatcher!

We thank you for sharing it all with us and for braving Arctic-like conditions in pursuit of excellence in birding.

I am perplexed as to why your hot buns were so angry, but, at least there was coffee!

Gini and I are having to deal with high winds lately which make birds and birders alike quite nervous.

Here's hoping for better weather prognosticators in all our futures.

Rostrose said...

PS: Your experience with the couple you met in Kenya and then by chance a year later in Goa is really great! :-DD

Angie said...

Phil - love the Barn Owl shot, as always. Jealous, to say the least, but greatly encouraged that you see one regularly!

Linda said...

These are great pictures. The Sand Martin gallery is interesting.

Shiju Sugunan said...

Such pretty sightings! So nice to see all these birds up close. The first picture is a winner!

Anni said...

Love the flight images of the owl & oystercatcher...but my goodness the colony image takes my breath away.
Thanks so much for sharing all with us this week & linking up.

The Padre said...

Brother Phil, Yet Another Brilliant Post - Sending Positive Vibes


Veronica Lee said...

Awesome sightings, Phil!

That owl in flight shot is astounding!

Happy Tuesday!

Lowcarb team member said...

Lovely to see your photographs, the barn owl in flight is wonderful.

All the best Jan

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