Signs Of Spring

Finally, on Wednesday a break in the weather allowed a spot of ringing at Project Linnet. I met Andy at 0700 and we set a whoosh net then poured a coffee.  

During February and after our last visit of 13 February, I maintained visits so as to keep a tally on numbers. It was vital to continue our supplementary feeding rather than suddenly stop and leave the Linnets without regular food. 

Monday March 2 had seen lower numbers with 35 Linnets only plus a couple of Chaffinches and 2 Stock Doves at our seed. An overflying Kestrel seemed also to be keeping an eye on a non-seed food source. A female Stonechat hopped along the fence and the bramble, a migrant that with luck we might be able to tempt into the catching area at the first opportunity. 

 Stonechat

We began Wednesday on 148 Linnet captures for the winter period 1 September to date. Although the figure was somewhat below our ideal figure, the decision to persevere with this project has proved immensely valuable. We have found new information about wintering Linnets and added to knowledge of Linnet migration as a whole. 

The Stonechat wasn’t around today - as suspected it was a one day wonder, a common enough occurrence in March. We saw the usual Little Egrets, Stock Doves and Chaffinches but our main attention was focused on Linnets and singing Skylarks. 

We noted at least 4 Skylarks on the move with two or more in song. We even managed to catch a single Skylark, sexed as a male through its overall bulk and wing length of 115 mm – males 105 - 118, females 98 - 108. 

Skylark 

Skylark 

Linnet numbers had dropped again with a maximum of 30 today. Even so we caught 10 Linnets to push the winter total over the 150 mark. We are pretty sure few ringers elsewhere are catching wintering Linnets and we are the only ones in Lancashire and North West England.

Our ten Linnets comprised of 9 new and 1 recapture - 2 adult males, 4 second winter females and 4 second winter males. Recapture AKE3732 was ringed here at Gulf Lane on 5 February 2020. 

Linnet 

Linnet

If the weather holds we hope for one more go at the Linnets but it seems that the falling number is a sure sign that spring is on the way as the Linnets head north and west to breeding sites. 

The Jet Stream moved south this week so let's hope it stays there so that we experience some dry, warm and sunny weather for a change.