Stone Me

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
Next week’s weather looked dire. Sunday might be the only opportunity to get some ringing done. So with a promised 3mph I drove up to Gulf Lane and an early start. 

No Andy today. And he had the single panel nets in his car except for a brand new Ecotone that languished in my boot. I put up the one net but it was shiny and pristine, straight out of the packet from Poland and by now the rising sun lit up the mesh. Mist nets are better when the new shine has worn off and they take on a greyer tone that merges into backdrop of the customary British weather. 

Anyway that’s my excuse for catching just 4 Linnets in a couple of hours. And I think the number of Linnets around at 180-200 suggests that this consistent count of recent weeks holds regular birds and few newcomers. 

But that miserly four equates to 251 new Linnets for the year of which 194 are from this autumn/ winter. And still not a single recapture. 

The Linnet below is a rather smart adult female. 

Linnet

All was not lost as I caught a Stonechat, almost certainly the quite distinctive male resident here for the last couple of weeks. I racked my brains to think of the last time I ringed a Stonechat in Lancashire so looked it up on the database - 1993. That timescale is indicative of both the species’ scarcity around here and also its liking for open habitats where ringers are not terribly active. 

The Stonechat “took the Micky” for a while and at one point perched up on one of the 4ft high bamboos that held the net and from where it could certainly see the mesh stretching to the other end. Ten minutes later it was lying in the net alongside a Linnet. 

In this part of coastal Lancashire the Stonechat is a scarce, partially migrant breeding bird, mainly on the edge of the Bowland hills but occasionally along the coastal strip. In many a spring it is a slightly more numerous and early passage migrant during February to April. Likewise, a migrant in autumn when odd birds may linger into December and beyond or even spend the winter if the weather stays mild enough. 

After 25 years I needed to consult “Svensson” to if possible age this obvious male. Through a combination of factors, bill, alula, tail wear and shape, plus the amount of black on the head, mantle and throat, I considered it an adult. 

"Svensson"

Stonechat in Svensson

Stonechat

Stonechat

Lots of other birds around this morning, mainly in flight by way of many hundreds of field-grazing Lapwing, Golden Plover and Curlew. Others – Sparrowhawk, Whooper Swans and Little Egrets.

Linking today to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.


Mix And Match

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
Today’s forecast was a little over the top windy for ringing at our exposed sites so I indulged in a few hours birding, camera at the ready. It turned out to be a day of mixed fortunes with both sunny and cloudy periods, showers, and even a spot or two of sunshine. At the end, a few photos to share. 

The drive across Stalmine Moss found three Kestrels, a hunting pair and then at the junction of Lancaster road a third one in flight. I slowed to scan the fields where a Barn Owl might be seen but none emerged from the post dawn light, just three chattering Fieldfares. The thrushes carried on south but I would see a number of others soon. 

I stopped at Gulf Lane to count the Linnets and drop food. Still 130+ Linnets, plus a number of Tree Sparrows at the farm 50 yards away. We don’t include the sparrows in our counts as they do not visit our seed even though it is a very short flight for them. I guess there must be lots of natural around at the moment and no need for them to sign in to our free food bank. 

Further around Gulf Lane were another 40 or so Tree Sparrows. They fed in a roadside stubble field and when spooked by a passing vehicle flew up to a handy tree or hedgerow until the danger passed. 

Tree Sparrow

Following this very wet summer and autumn herds of Whooper Swans, small and large, are scattered across many areas of Pilling, Cockerham, Cockersands and Eagland at the moment. There are so many swans that if on a morning flight the lot were to try and feed in one field they might struggle to do so; even more when both Whoopers and the many dozens of Mute Swans seem not to mind sharing their largesse of abandoned crops. 

So it was that out on Moss Edge I watched a herd of 20 Mutes and 30 Whoopers as they fed untroubled in yet another morass of mud and corn stubble. I even managed to single out a family group for a picture. What fine animals they are and aren’t we so very honoured to welcome them to our local landscape each winter? Two Little Egrets fed in the adjacent grass and looked slightly out of place, somewhat exotic in comparison to the Icelandic swans.
Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan

Little Egret

The hawthorn berry crop was poor this year. Following the October/November invasion of Fieldfares, Blackbirds and other thrushes this already low food resource is now almost gone. On Moss Edge the hawthorns are pretty much depleted and it was noticeable that a flock of approximately 130 Fieldfares searched both the ground and the hedgerows for something to eat. In normal years the hedgerows provide bird food for a few more weeks. 

Fieldfare

Fieldfare

I stopped at Conder Pool more out of habit than expectation. Old Faithful really struggles to provide any birds at the moment so I was not surprised with the regular counts of 190 Teal, 14 Wigeon and about 30 each of Lapwing, Redshank and Curlew. The customary 3 Little Grebe, 1 Goosander and 2 Little Egret. 

I found nothing of note on the circuit of Moss Lane/Jeremy Lane with none of the thrushes of late except for a Mistle Thrush into the light. 

Mistle Thrush
 
It was time for a coffee near the Lune. As luck would have it a flock of Linnets flew by and some landed on the nearby fence. Even better there was a single and perhaps one or two more Twite plus a curious Wren. 

Wren

Linnet

Twite

Linnet
 
Twite

The Twite Linaria flavirostris and the Linnet Linaria cannabina are similar in looks but are two separate and quite distinct species. The genus name Linaria is the Latin for a linen-weaver, from linum, "flax" and flavirostris means yellow-billed; cannabina comes from the Latin for hemp. 

The Linnet is a mostly farmland bird at all seasons of the year but one that can be found at higher elevation on moorland edge in the summer and autumn. In contrast the Twite sometimes known as “mountain linnet” favours treeless moorland for breeding and frequents lowland and mainly coastal haunts in winter only. It is in the winter when both species are more likely to seen using the same coastline areas in which to feed. 

Time passed quickly and my time was up. It had been a good morning with a rather nice mix of species.

Linking today to Anni's Birding Blog and Eileen's Saturday Blog.



More Linnets Please

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
Just yesterday I entered some recent counts of Linnets at Gulf Lane into the BTO’s Bird Track. The system flagged up that the counts were of an “unusually high number”. Well BTO it’s good to hear that, especially as discovering more about winter Linnets is the objective of our project here. 

BirdTrack - BTO

Throughout September and October spot counts here varied between 50 and 100 Linnets during a period of poor and mostly wet and windy weather. In the last week and into November and with more settled weather there have been nearer 200 birds at any one time. 

Wednesday 15th and at last a morning of less than 5 mph winds. I met Andy at 0715 and ten minutes later the single panel nets stood ready for the Linnets as they arrived from roosts ready for their first feed of the day. 

Parties arriving varied between 3 and 30 individuals until our best counts of the morning realised 135 Linnets at any one time, a reduction from the most recent count of 200 on 11th November. Past catches tend to equate to approximately 10% of the spot count, just as today with 13 caught. This brought our running total to 190 Linnets for this autumn period. 

Today’s catch comprised 1 adult male and 12 first winters, 4 female and 8 male. In addition we caught a single Wren. One of today’s Linnets came in at a healthy 85mm wing and 19 grams, another two at 84mm and 19.4 and 19 grams, leading us to again speculate that such individuals originate from Scotland. 

Linnet

More time, more captures and more recaptures of Linnets ringed elsewhere may help us to prove the theory. All we need is more ringers catching and ringing spring, summer, autumn and winter Linnets.  

For the benefit of ourselves, the farmer and his Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) scheme we record all bird species using the site on each and every visit. Today the list was restricted to Linnets, a Sparrowhawk and the aforementioned Wren. 

Fly overs today were Whooper Swan, Lapwing, Skylark, Kestrel, Buzzard, Meadow Pipit and Pink-footed Goose. Geese flew off the marsh and inland throughout our four hour stay. We were reliably informed that recent counts have been in the region of 40,000 Pink-footed Geese!

Pink-footed Geese

Seems like we have enough pinkies for a while. But if anyone would like to send more Linnets our way, we'll do our best to accommodate them.




Bright And Breezy

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
The forecast said bright and breezy and it was spot-on for birding if not for ringing at our exposed sites. I travelled over the moss roads where I hoped for a Barn Owl or two; but no luck this morning, just a pair of Buzzards leaving their overnight roost.

At Gulf Lane the Linnet flock has increased to 200+ birds but no sign of the Stonechat from earlier in the week. With luck we’ll get a crack at catching more Linnets this coming week. Lapwings and Curlews filled the wet fields alongside the A588 with several hundred of each before I even reached Braides Farm.

Here at the farm were 500+ Lapwing and similar numbers of Curlew, and on the flood itself, 80+ Black-tailed Godwit. A mile away I stopped on the rise of Bank End Lane and viewed the fields below. Here were several hundreds more of both Lapwing and Curlew, dozens of Redshank, and once again a large number of Black-tailed Godwit, 130 or more.

The area around Chris the farmer’s midden/slurry pond is holding a good number of insects as well as small birds, mainly pipits and wagtails, but also a few Tree Sparrows and Reed Buntings. After a while the count came to 120 Meadow Pipit, 8 Pied Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail, 4 Tree Sparrow, 2 Reed Bunting and a good number of Starlings.

Pied Wagtail

Grey Wagtail

Grey Wagtail

Meadow Pipit

Meadow Pipit
 
Pied Wagtail

Starling

There is a huge southerly migration of Meadow Pipits during August to October, a movement involving birds from Scotland, Scandinavia and Iceland, after which the UK wintering population is quite small. No one is quite sure of the origins of any wintering birds and their numbers can vary enormously according to the severity of the winter. While the weather is mild at the moment whereby there is plenty of insect food, cold and especially frosty weather will see the birds quickly depart south and west.

Meadow Pipit

Conder Pool is pretty much off the boil for now although the cold northerly appeared to have increased the Teal count to 230 together with the first Wigeon (15) for some weeks. Otherwise - approximately 30 each of Lapwing, 30 Redshank and Curlew, 3 Little Grebe, 2 Goosander, 2 Little Egret and 1 Kestrel. Two Ravens flew over heading inland and in a north easterly direction.

There is such a spectacle of noise and activity that it is hard not to drive up Moss Lane where the Whooper Swans have made their winter home. With 450+ Whoopers and a few dozen Mutes there’s enough action to satisfy most observers, the only problem being to isolate a single photo subject  or small group from the multitude packed into the field.

Whooper Swan
 
Just along Slack Lane there was quite a lot of activity around the now redundant set aside field and hedgerow with more Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtails, Linnets, and even half-a-dozen Greenfinch. It’s not so many years ago that most birders, me included, didn’t bother to record the overly common Greenfinch in their notebooks. Look at it now – a sharp population decline, a now scarce sight and a rare visitor to many a garden.

Greenfinch - BTO

Greenfinch

On the way back up Moss Lane and around Jeremy Lane were hundreds of very mobile Fieldfares. They tried to feed in the roadside hedgerows but fled as each vehicle whooshed by. My estimate of 3/400 is just that. There could have been lots more but they weren’t in the mood for stopping.

Fieldfares

Fieldfare

A successful morning then!  I really should get out more often.

Linking today to World Bird Wednesday.


Today’s The Day

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
One day a week for ringing. That’s all we get at the moment. One day without rain, wind or both. This week was Wednesday with a cold, clear and frosty start at Oakenclough where I met Andy at 0630. We were later joined by our old mate Will, now too busy with work to do a great deal of ringing. That’s his story and he’s sticking to it. 

The morning followed a similar pattern to our latest visits here, a post-dawn burst of thrushes and then little else to keep feet and fingers warm. We are now past the peak of Redwing migration and while Fieldfares are often a week or two after the passage of Redwings, this autumn’s Fieldfare migration has seemed a little thin over here on the west coast. Blackbirds were more in evidence today with “continental” types caught, up to 20 seen in total, plus a single Song Thrush. Otherwise, and in the very clear skies there was a thin passage of Chaffinches overhead with at least two definite Bramblings, their nasal calls singling them out for special attention. 

The peak numbers came about 0715 with a largish mixed flock of about 200 Redwing/Fieldfare at 30/70% respectively and which hurried through towards the west before we had time to scrutinise the flock more closely. Afterwards any newly arrived thrushes consisted of small groups or even singles of Fieldfares, Redwings or Blackbirds. In all we caught 18 birds: 5 Blackbird, 2 Redwing, 1 Fieldfare, 4 Coal Tit, 3 Blue Tit, 2 Lesser Redpoll and 1 Goldcrest. 

Fieldfare

Redwing

Fieldfare

Redwing
 
Lesser Redpoll

The route back home took me across Pilling/Rawcliffe Moss where 8+ Buzzards circled above a wood, 40 Fieldfares along a hedgerow and a single hovering Kestrel close by. 

At Cockerham, Gulf Lane I stopped to count the Linnets and to leave their rape/millet mix which they are yet to exploit. Here were 145 Linnet, 4 Stock Dove and 1 Stonechat. 

With luck this will be our next day and location of ringing – next Monday looks OK at the moment but these pencilled in days have a habit of changing. If the Met Office can’t predict more than 24 hours ahead what chance do we have?

Linking today to Anni's Birding and Eileen's Blog.



Saturday’s Schedule

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
Saturday began dull and cloudy but the forecast was pretty accurate. The sky brightened a little but not enough to get decent photographs. 

I set off in the direction of Cockerham where I stopped in the gateway of Braides Farm and looked on the flood about 300 yards away. The flood is distant but always worth a look with the risk that small birds go missing amongst the puddled, rough grass landscape. I counted 480 Curlew, 10 Black-tailed Godwit and a single Kestrel but I’m sure more bits and pieces were hidden. 

Conder Green proved productive. In the wader stakes I noted 15 Curlew, 15 Redshank, 14 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Snipe, 4 Lapwing and the single and still wintering Common Sandpiper. The light was far from ideal and required ISO1000, a setting which proved barely enough. 

Redshank

Common Sandpiper

Down on the mud was a single Grey Wagtail and also 4 Meadow Pipits. The incoming tide made it easier to count the Teal now flushed out of their hiding places in the marsh and I counted 170/180. There was a single Grey Heron, 2 Little Egrets, 3 Little Grebe and 9 Goosanders. The latter included 3 stunning looking males, even if they were on the far side of the pool. 

 Meadow Pipit

Little Egret

Teal

I drove around Jeremy Lane and up to Cockersands where I hoped to find and photograph Fieldfares, a species which in some winters appears in large numbers along the hawthorn hedges. But very few Fieldfares today with the best I saw about 50 very mobile birds in two flocks in roadside that flew quickly south and out of sight at the approach of vehicles. I had to make do with a House Sparrow dining on rather old blackberries. 

House Sparrow

Near to Cockersands I found 190 or more Whooper Swans, a number partly hidden as the field dropped down and away from view. As I watched a number of parties flew off noisily towards Cockerham but a hour or so later and when visiting Thursday’s location of almost 500 Whoopers at Cockerham I saw not a one. Clearly this winter’s swans will be very mobile with a selection of places in which to delight their admirers. 

Whooper Swans

Whooper Swans

Whooper Swan

I stopped at Gulf Lane and counted the Linnets at 130+.  Their natural food is still a plentiful mystery where they drop to the bottom of the vegetation, feed on or close to the ground and appear to ignore our line of rape seed.  Six Stock Doves dropped in to feed but they won’t stay around if the ringers or shooters appear and then open their car doors. 

Linnets
 
More birds soon. It’s Saturday evening and I’m due a glass of plonk.

In the meantime, linking to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday and  Anni's Blog.



Linnets And Swan Lake

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
It had been more than six weeks ago on 23rd September that we managed a ringing session at Linnet Project 2017/18. Six weeks of wind and rain which limited our visits to spot count days only with not a single visit for ringing purposes during October. At this site we need a dry morning and ideally, a wind of 5mph or less. 

At last the forecast was tolerable for this morning so I met Andy at 0715 and we set a couple of single panels through what is left of the wildflower/bird seed field after its autumn battering.  At the moment the finch flock is Linnets only and numbers about 130 at any one time so we were not too disappointed with a catch of 14 Linnets - two adult males, and the remaining 12 made up of 7 first year males and 5 first year females. This bumped up the Linnet ringing total here to 177 during the autumn of 2017. 

Linnet - male

Linnet - female

Linnet

During July to September the post-breeding finch flock here numbered up to 250 birds, 50% of which were Goldfinch targeting a large crop of sow thistle. The sow thistle has now gone and so have the Goldfinch. It was during this period that we ringed nine Goldfinches. One of these Goldfinches, S800188 ringed here on 26th August was found dead 40 kms away in Darwen, Blackburn on 29th October. The Goldfinch had collided with a glass window and picked up dead by the householder. Collisions with glass account for a large number of small bird deaths. 

Highlight of the morning’s birding was the many thousands of Pink-footed Geese leaving their salt marsh roost just hundreds of yards away and over the nearby sea bund. We made no attempt to count the often very distant geese but they were in tens of thousands. We also noted good numbers of Whooper Swans flying overhead and later spoke to a wildfowler who said that other shooters had reported approximately 700 Whoopers in recent days. 

After our ringing I drove around to where the swans had dropped, a corn field left unharvested after it flooded badly during recent rains, a field which now resembles a shallow lake. It was here I counted 470 Whooper Swans, 15 to 20 Mute Swans together with many hundreds of large gulls, Starlings and Jackdaws. There is another herd of swans along at Sand Villa and Braides Farm so the shooters’ count of 700 swans is more than feasible. 

Swan Lake - Cockerham

Whooper Swans
 
Whooper Swans

In the same area as the swans were 15+ Skylark, similar numbers of Tree Sparrows and a single Grey Wagtail. 

Starlings

 
Tree Sparrow

Stay on board. There's more birding, ringing and photos to come soon on Another Bird Blog.

Linking today to Eileen's Blog.

First of November

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
Our first ringing session of the month took place at Oakenclough, Near Garstang. The morning was dry and cloudy with a 10mph southerly, a direction that leaves our nets partly sheltered. I met Andy at 0630 and Bryan joined us soon after. 

The morning followed the same pattern as the last two occasions here. There was a dawn arrival of thrushes from the south east and quickly leaving in a westerly that lasted in all about 40 minutes. This was followed once again by a slow morning of odds and ends of thrushes, a lack of finches and just 26 birds ringed. Totals captured: 9 Redwing, 3 Fieldfare, 4 Goldcrest, 3 Goldfinch, 3 Blue Tit, 2 Coal Tit, 1 Blackbird, 1 Chaffinch. 

In all we counted approximately 80 Redwings, 40 Fieldfares and 5/6 Blackbirds. As described above, finches were dominated by approximately 40 each of Chaffinch and Goldfinch, a couple of Greenfinch, but big fat zeros for both Redpoll and Siskin. 

Redwings

One of the first year Redwings caught was in the process of renewing its outer tail feathers, perhaps slightly unusual since it is probably in the middle of a long migration journey. Note the different shapes of the two generations of feathers. 

Redwing
 
Fieldfare

Fieldfare

We have ringed approximately 60 Goldcrests here this autumn with a handful or more new ones on each occasion. 

Goldcrest

For a large and colourful bird, Fieldfares are very shy and can be quite hard to spot in an autumn hedgerow. There are five Fieldfares in the picture below, taken on the way home on the drive across Pilling Moss. 

Fieldfares

Despite or perhaps because of the recent low catches of redpolls, we received another recovery of a Lesser Redpoll via the BTO. This is the second recent one from a batch of juvenile birds we ringed at Oakenclough in August, and one that demonstrates how Lesser Redpolls, especially first years, migrate south-east in autumn. 

Lesser Redpoll

We ringed Lesser Redpoll S800343 on 30th August 2017 with biometrics of Wing 69.0 mm, Weight: 10.1 grams at 0800 hours. The same bird was recaptured in Leicestershire near Ashby-de-la-Zouche on 26th October 2017 at 1200 hours with biometrics of Wing 68.0 mm. Weight: 9.7 g. Duration: 57 days. Distance: 154 km. Direction: 150deg (SSE) 

Lesser Redpoll - Oakenclough to Ashby-de-la-Zouche

Stay tuned. There's a 5mph forcast for Thursday with more ringing on the cards.

 

Lazing On A Sunday Afternooon

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
This year no two days are ever the same. Saturday was a day of dark clouds and drizzle in the air. Today just the opposite - bright and sunny. 

I set off over the moss roads where in the half-light of dawn I saw two Barn Owls and a Kestrel, but with the light pretty poor for pictures. The first Barn Owl flew rapidly alongside the road and towards a regular hangout 100 yards away, an open barn at the rear of an empty house, a quiet location where the owl could rest undisturbed for an hour or two. Half-a-mile away I watched a second Barn Owl hunt a rough grass field that held a water-filled ditch and where there would surely be voles, rats and mice. The owl’s method seemed erratic and fast. It flew here, there and everywhere, dived into the grass occasionally and then restarted its frantic flight, but with none of the slow quartering or watch and wait meant to typify a Barn Owl hunt. After a while this one too flew across the road ahead of me and into some farm buildings seemingly without its breakfast but ready for a rest from all that nervous activity. 

Barn Owl

I joined up with the main road the A588 or Death Row as it is otherwise known, and north towards Pilling and Cockerham. A huge illuminated sign informed me that average speed calculators were now in force for the next two miles. All this cost of hundreds of thousands, possibly a million quid, just as a deterrent to lunatics who insist on using this road on four wheels or two as their personal race track. Mind you, if this works it’s a good thing for birders who like to drive at normal speeds and if the road is not too busy, stop and view the fields alongside the sea wall. 

As luck would have it, tens of thousands of Pink-footed Geese had just left their roost and flew directly overhead my passing car and then headed inland. There were small parties of Whooper Swans too more or less flying parallel to the coast. Some landed quite quickly in the fields of Sand Villa, an area which they seem to be making their winter home along with a number of Mute Swans, Curlews, Lapwings, Starlings, a Grey Heron and a small number of Golden Plover.  Other Whoopers flew off towards Moss Edge, an area of fields they wintered in several years ago with up to 450 individuals plus several Bewick's Swans.

Whooper Swan and Mute Swan

I stopped at Gulf Lane to check out and feed the Linnets. It was 23rd September, and due to constant wind and rain that we were last able to ring at this rather exposed site. This left our ringing total here stuck for five weeks on 163 Linnet and 9 Goldfinch. I suspect the bad weather has been a major factor in limiting the number of Linnets to a fairly constant 60 birds during count visits only during October. There was an improvement in numbers today with a count of approximately 100 Linnets, 2 Wrens, 1 Kestrel and a totally unexpected first for the site - a Goldcrest. The ‘crest was moving along the roadside vegetation that borders the field. Promised colder weather should see larger counts of Linnets and hopefully a chance to continue with the Linnet ringing project. 

Linnets

Linnets

A stop at Braides Farm revealed more Whoopers and Mutes, uncountable as they partly or mostly hid in the ditch behind the sea wall. Also, approximately 400 Lapwings, a Kestrel and a Mistle Thrush. At Conder Green I found the wintering Common Sandpiper in the creeks along with 180 Teal, 30+ Redshank, 6 Little Grebe, several Curlew, 1 Goosander and 1 Kingfisher. At Jeremy Lane and down towards Cockersands were a dozen or more newly arrived but flighty Fieldfares, Blackbirds and even a Song Thrush, all searching this year’s rather thin crop of hawthorn berries. 

Song Thrush

 Fieldfare

There wasn’t a lot doing along Slack Lane, a Kestrel, 15/20 mobile Linnets near the cottage and 2 Reed Buntings along the hedgerow. Better were 30 or more Skylarks hidden in the field until they lifted into the air at some unknown signal as some called, flew a few yards and then just as quickly drifted back to earth, invisible in the straw coloured stubble. 

That’s me done with birding for a day or two. This afternoon I'm lazing around because next week is school half-term and time for treats from Nana and Granddad.

Linking today with Stewart's World Bird Wednesday



Have Another Go

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
After yesterday’s slightly underwhelming and fairly unproductive ringing session Andy and I decided we would have another go today. We met up at 0700 for the last time before the clocks revert to winter time settings, and for ringers, a return to earlier alarm bells for a week or two. 

With clear skies and a promise of sunshine the weather this morning was decidedly better in terms of comfort for us ringers if not necessarily more suited to visible migration. We were correct. After a very early thrush rush the little migration there was came to a complete halt. 

We caught 22 birds, thrushes named first to illustrate how the morning changed from a promising thrush rush to a titfest - 6 Redwing, 1 Song Thrush, 1 Blackbird, 1 Robin, 1 Goldfinch, 6 Coal Tit, 4 Blue Tit, 1 Wren, 1 Dunnock. 

The post-dawn arrival of thrushes comprised of about 45 Redwings, 15 Fieldfare, 4 Mistle Thrush, 4 Blackbirds and the single Song Thrush above. Otherwise, and in the clear skies, 100+ Woodpigeon flew south west and 15/20 Chaffinch flew directly over without stopping off. A couple of Sparrowhawks, male and female, targeting thrushes enlivened proceedings but we caught none today.

Once again we failed to catch any Lesser Redpolls or Chaffinches, the single Goldfinch a recapture from recent days and again a complete absence of Siskins. We discussed whether Storm Ophelia and Hurricane Brian which hit the North West in quick succession had caused finches to head south and west somewhat earlier than normal. We then then countered that argument with the fact that during the storms the overall day and night temperatures remained balmy. Time will tell whether the fall in finch captures remains low or recovers to our usual levels when colder weather arrives. 

Dunnock

Redwing

Song Thrush
 
Like many ringers we no longer catch Song Thrushes in good numbers since the species’ decline during the last 30/40 years. 

Song Thrush - Turdus philomelos - British Trust for Ornithology

For many people the shy but once familiar Song Thrush is regarded as a garden bird only, and not one associated with migration. In actual fact the partially migratory Song Thrush breeds in most of Europe and across the Ukraine and Russia almost to Lake Baikal, cold regions which must be abandoned in winter. The species extends to 75°N in Norway and about 60°N in Siberia, and Song Thrushes from those regions winter around the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East. 

Some British Song Thrushes leave their breeding areas for Ireland, France or Iberia for the winter, although many undertake little seasonal movement unless prompted by severe weather. The migration of birds from Europe can sometimes be evident across Britain in autumn, and is known to involve birds from as far east as Finland. However it is rarely possible to distinguish this from movements of local birds. Occasional continental individuals are reported in the UK in winter but it is clear that a high proportion of them continue further south, to at least France or Iberia. Vagrant Song Thrushes have been recorded far from their normal ranges, in places such as Greenland, West Africa and various Atlantic islands. 

Meanwhile, the Lesser Redpolls we caught here this year continue on their journeys south as shown below by the unremarkable but instructive information. 

Lesser Redpoll

A juvenile Lesser Redpoll S800301 ringed here at Oakenclough on 25th August 2017. Biometrics: Wing: 72.0 mm. Weight: 9.6 g. Time: 08:00:00hrs, was recaptured 181 degrees due south on 26th October 2017 at Billinge Hill, near Billinge, Merseyside. Biometrics: Wing: 71.0 mm. Weight: 10.5 g. Time: 09:00:00hrs. Duration: 62 days Distance: 47 km Direction: 181deg (S) 

Lesser Redpoll - Oakenclough to Billinge

Stand by for more birds soon from Another Bird Blog.

Linking today to Eileen's Saturday Blog.