Friday, July 29, 2022

Too Many Questions Not Enough Answers

“Six-fifteen?” We agreed. It seemed like a good idea at the time until the alarm buzzed at five-fifteen when I went through the well-practiced routine of ablutions, clothes, breakfast and a flask of coffee for the day ahead. Minutes later I hit the road to Oakenclough and met Andy on the dot to a cloudy start and a light south-easterly. 

We heard the soft piping calls of a Bullfinch near to the first mist net and thought it highly likely we would catch a Bullfinch or two now that the species has returned to the site. Better still, a few recently fledged youngsters.

Within minutes of our arrival there was shower that lasted three or four minutes after which it remained dry until we left at 1115. It had been a while since our last visit here of 17 June Another Bird Blog when we had questioned the lack of newly fledged birds.    

Throughout the rest of June and through July we thought that with the exception of Sand Martins and probably Linnets, the breeding success of all species had been both late and/or poor. 

The next few hours might give more clues and develop a few theories. We finished with a better catch of 25 birds, 24 new and one recapture, an adult Bullfinch first ringed on 17 June. The only other adult caught was a male Goldcrest. 

The remaining 23 captures were all shown to be juvenile/first summer individuals, and thirteen of those Willow Warblers. We were seeing juveniles in larger numbers and in more species for the very first time this year, all to confirm our suspicions of a late breeding season here in the cool of North West England. 

In total - 13 Willow Warbler, 6 Blue Tit, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Goldcrest, 1 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Blackbird, 1 Great Tit, 1 Bullfinch. 

The single juvenile Lesser Redpoll was a very young bird yet to begin any post juvenile moult or develop reddish tinges. We were sure it was part of a brood born quite close to the site. 

Lesser Redpoll

Lesser Redpoll
Willow Warbler

A gentle blow of the crown feathers of the partly moulting “female” Goldcrest showed remnants of a male’s orange feathers.  A male quite quickly loses those orange centres used to attract a female at the start of the breeding season.

The male Bullfinch remains in good breeding condition. It displayed an obvious incubation patch and a cloacal protuberance, plus that we did not catch the female suggest the pair may have a second clutch of eggs somewhere in the dense woodland. Like many species, the male Bullfinch does his share of incubating eggs, hence the need for a bare, warm belly. 

Birding between bouts of ringing/processing produced the surprise sighting of a fly-by Kingfisher, only the second one ever seen here.  Also, 4 Pied Wagtails, a handful of Swallows, a Great-spotted Woodpecker and a couple of Chaffinches. 

As is often the case it’s the species not seen, caught or even heard caught that provoke the questions. Today it was “Where are the Blackcaps, the Whitethroats and the Garden Warblers”. Or, “Why only four or five Swallows and no Swifts?” 

And there’s always the perpetual one, “Why no Buzzards, on this fine morning for a circling raptor?” Well I think we all know the answer to that last one, especially when we noted young pheasants on the loose. 

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



Shiju Sugunan said...

Good to see these young ones. Nice to know the juveniles are in good numbers despite the late breeding.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil,
I love the photos of the birds you captured. I hope all the birds are have success with their breeding. It is good to see all the juveniles. The Redpoll is one of my favorites, along with the Goldcrest and the beautiful Bullfinch.
Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a great weekend. PS, thank you for leaving me a comment.

Anu said...

Hello. 23 caught and in addition a number of other sightings. A great number of birds! Take care!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

It's nice that you got out and had some time between showers. It has been odd for sighting birds here. Some I've taken photos of every summer aren't around but I won't give up! Love that you get to take such great close ups! Happy weekend!

Rostrose said...

Dear Phil,
Unfortunately, I know too little about bird watching / bird ringing to understand exactly whether you would rate this day as a success or a failure. Am I right in saying that you are pleased with the number of juveniles caught but concerned at the lack of Blackcaps, Whitethroats, Garden Warblers, Swallows, Swifts and Buzzards? In any case, I really like your bird photos, they are pretty specimens!
All the best and happy weekend!

Lowcarb team member said...

Nice to see these birds, the Bullfinch colours look good.

Enjoy your weekend, and early good wishes for the new month of August.

All the best Jan

NCSue said...

Great photos of some feathered friends we don't see here. Thank you for sharing at

Wally Jones said...

At least the late-season breeding provides an answer to one question.

As to your other questions, well, if we knew all the answers, we would be politicians.

A couple dozen birds ringed sounds like a good morning's work to me, but I am totally ignorant - about what defines ringing success.

One of our local hotshot birder types reported an American Redstart yesterday. An early migrant? Then again, it is already August.

Keep calm and keep ringing.

Veronica Lee said...

It's always a joy to see the beautiful photos of the birds you ring and photograph, Phil.
Happy Tuesday!

Rajani Rehana said...

Beautiful blog

Zimbabwe said...

The best part for me with your ringing is being able to see the birds close up. Fabulous photos. I hope all is well, Cheers Diane

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