This morning’s ringing session seemed a long time coming. We more or less abandoned Oakenclough last year after the storms of autumn followed by a winter to forget. But Andy’s done a sterling job with the feeders in the last couple of weeks by enticing birds back on site.
Wednesday dawned with a hint of better to come, a drop in wind speed and our first chance to catch up with small finches on the move at this time of year. Wind began at 6-8 mph from the south east, later 10-12 mph from the west with full cloud cover changing to sunny from the west.
We met at 0700 and were joined today by Bryan. The session was pretty slow but we caught our first Lesser Redpoll and Siskins of the year together with a slight surprise in the shape of not one but two Mistle Thrushes.
Fifteen birds caught: 3 Blue Tit, 3 Coal Tit, 2 Mistle Thrush, 2 Siskin, 2 Goldfinch, 1 Great Tit, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Lesser Redpoll.
We’d heard two or more Mistle Thrushes in their usual loud song from treetops and watched as three of them crashed through the site in a territorial dispute. The Mistle Thrush as a very loud far-carrying song. Click the start button below to hear the distinctive song of Mistle Thrush.
We aged and sexed the two Siskins as one adult female and one first-winter male. They were released together and we watched as they flew off in close proximity. It’s a rule that ringers follow; if males and females are caught close to each other, as they often are, they are released at the same time. The same goes for possible family parties caught in late summer or autun.
Goldfinches look rather splendid now as they move into their summer best. Look at the dark-tipped silvery bill of the male below.
The redpoll was in fine condition so early in March. As suspected on first sight and confirmed upon closer examination, it proved to be an adult male.
In recent years the Lesser Redpoll has been added to the list of garden finches like Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Bullfinch. The BTO Garden BirdWatch survey shows a 15-fold increase in the use of gardens by Lesser Redpolls during early spring over the past five years. Having said that, they seem not to occur very much in gardens in coastal Lancashire where I live. I hope they become more common soon.
Other birds noted this morning: 4 Buzzard, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Pied Wagtail, 20+ Oystercatcher, 1 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 8 Lapwing.