Friday, January 20, 2023

At Last

At last, a cause for celebration via a ringing session at Pilling planned for Friday morning. The one prior to recent foul weather was more than 6 weeks ago, back in early December 7 of 2022. That six weeks of zero ringing is something of an unwanted record breaker. 

Whilst the lack of ringing meant we caught no birds it was essential to continue the supplementary feeding regime set up in November, a system designed to help wild birds negotiate the winter. However the weeks of wet, windy and occasionally cold weather also caused birds to leave and seemingly not return. 

During December hungry sheep had stripped the seed plot of remaining growth whereby the few Linnets that remained had departed wholesale along with the few Reed Buntings, Chaffinches and Meadow Pipits that began to use our open buffet. 

Last week we took the opportunity of a frosty morning of minus 4° to conduct maintenance work – cutting stray branches, widening net rides and constructing skulk piles in readiness for the coming spring. A few hours on site gave optimism with sightings of Reed Bunting, Chaffinch, Blackbird and even thirty or so Fieldfares that stopped by briefly to chuckle at our endeavours. 


On Friday I met up with Andy and Will for the 0745 start and a slight improvement in the temperature to -1°. 

As expected the ringing was quite slow, the birding interesting, but not thrilling apart from a lightning fast Merlin. We caught just 13 birds – 4 Robin, 3 Reed Bunting, 3 Chaffinch, 2 Blackbird and 1 Blue Tit. 

Three of the Robins were seen to be recaptures, individuals that have survived the winter so far and probably now in the business of sorting out territories for the coming weeks. 

All three Reed Buntings were new to us birds in what is prime wintering habitat of farmland with reed and woodland edge. 
Reed Bunting


A female Merlin appeared as if by magic when a handful of Meadow Pipits lingered around the remnants of the game cover crop, the pipits split up and scattered by the speed of the Merlin’s approach and their own panic attack. The Merlin singled out a pipit to chase but didn’t catch, flew off out of sight and then came back, as if to see if the pipits were still around. When the pipits were not to be seen the Merlin flew off into the distance before settling in a bare branched tree some 200 yards away. The raptor stayed in the tree for twenty minutes and more before departing at some speed. 


Other birding gave us a single Grey Heron, 2 Little Egret, 1 Mistle Thrush, 13 Linnet, 8 Reed Bunting, 12 Meadow Pipit, 65 Whooper Swan. 
Whooper Swans

Grey Heron
A good if cold morning was had by all. And it was simply so good to get outdoors again. 

Join me soon at Another Bird Blog for more birding, bird ringing and bird photos.  

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


Jenn Jilks said...

I enjoy your birding reports.
We are captivated by our 4-legged friends, as snow, sleet, hail, etc., preclude birding.

Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil :=) Beautiful photos of all the birds, and I loved every one of them. I have never seen a Merlin, what a beauty. Your last photo made me smile, thank you. :=)
Enjoy your weekend.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil,
I am sure it felt good to get back out there banding the birds. I am sure the birds missed you. The Robin are Chaffinch are adorable, love the beautiful Reed Bunting. The Merlin is a beautiful bird, what an awesome appearance. Great shots of the Grey Heron and the Whooper Swans. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Cute funny! Take care, have a happy weekend.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I love the cartoon! When I told my son I had watched a Bobcat a few years ago for the first time, he said I'm sure he's watched you before now! I love the colors of the Ron and the Merlin s beautiful. Enjoy your weekend. It's gray and overcast here today but the Jeep can drive in any weather! Be ready! Hugs, Diane

Rhodesia said...

Delighted that you managed to get out ringing again. The Reed Bunting is gorgeous but my favourite has to be the Merlin.
Keep warm and take care, cheers Diane

Wally Jones said...

Hooray! You went ringing!

Now, if you can get a bit of a balance between not too wet and not too cold, you'll be all set. Wait - I think they call that "Spring". Just be patient. It will be there eventually.

In the meantime, keep up with maintaining the sites and ringing the unwary hungry individuals who do stop by.

We also saw a Merlin last week. A brown blur traveling about a hundred miles per hour away from us. Must have been something we said. Extremely jealous of your fine photo of one!

All is well over here. Good health, good weather, good birding. Goodness! We are doing better than I thought!

Keep warm and dry and we look forward to reports of avian hordes descending toward the free banquet at Pilling.

RedPat said...

The Merlin would have been the star for me. Great shots.

Shiju Sugunan said...

I am so glad the weather relented. Great sightings and fantastic shots!

Angie said...

Phil - glad things are looking up for you! I delight in your Robins, and the Merlin was a treat! I hope to publish soon some photos of Bald Eagles and an Owl fishing at the lake below our property. Mesmerizing!

Anni said...

Loved the 'karma'!!
You three accomplished so much after the cold snap. Wonderful. I am always delighted to see the European robin (they are prettier than the American). Here's to continued good weather.

Enjoy your week ahead and thank you for linking in at IRBB.

NCSue said...

Great shots and wow, is the karma cartoon ever spot on!
Thanks for sharing at

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

You birders are really busy - I didn't know all the preparation for birds that you do. Thank you on behalf of the general public for helping birds. BTW that cartoon is a scream!

Veronica Lee said...

So glad you are out ringing again, Phil!

LOL @ "karma"

Adam Jones said...

Great news Phil. So pleased you were out again. I even managed a day out myself on Friday, and despite the cold it was so nice to see sunlight and blue skies once again. Really do love your Merlin picture. Very jealous of that. A bit of a bogey bird for me.

Rudbekia said...

Stunning photos of birds.

Rostrose said...

Dear Phil, I'm happy for you that you've finally been able to go on birding trips again. And you caught some beautiful birds. I'm particularly impressed by 65 whooper swans, that's quite a lot (in my opinion anyway - you're probably more experienced with that). And the Merlin is a pretty animal. I still prefer it when birds of prey catch mice than when they eat songbirds ;-)
All the best,

Linda said...

Beautiful birds! The cartoon made me laugh.

Lowcarb team member said...

So nice to be out and about again!
Lovely selection of birds in your photographs.
The cartoon made me chuckle :)

All the best Jan

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