Long Time No See

Long-time no see my friends. The less said about the October weather and lack of birding days the better. Before today our previous visit to Oakenclough was Friday 16 October, almost three weeks ago. 

We met up at 0600 this morning, an earlier start than 3 weeks ago, 0600 dictated by a move to the Winter Clock. 

Prolonged spells of bad weather tends to clear out the birds from Oakenclough. We reckon that local birds head off to places more sheltered, at lower altitude than here at 700ft above sea level. Meanwhile migrant birds like thrushes and finches that we expect to both see and catch have no rhyme or reason to stop in inclement weather but simply find alternative routes and times to continue their migration. 

And so it proved today with a catch of just 15 birds – 7 Coal Tit, 2 Redwing, 2 Chaffinch, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Great Tit, 1 Goldcrest, and 1 Robin. 

We caught the two Redwings at first light, the Fieldfare an hour or more later.  By some margin Fieldfares outnumbered Redwings and we thought that our count of the 180+ Fieldfares and 30 or so Redwings had exited an overnight roost rather than being fresh migrants. By now, early November, the autumn passage and visible migration of both species may well be over; our 3 weeks of inactivity cost us dearly. 

Once again the local Coal Tits found us but the Blues and Greats stayed mainly around the feeders at the nearby house - Thanks George and family for your sterling work. 

Fieldfare

Redwing

Chaffinch

Coal Tit

By coincidence on this day of Coal Tits, it’s unusual to receive a report of one of our ringed Coal Tits being found elsewhere. 

The Coal Tit is known as one of the most sedentary species of Britain and Ireland whereby ringing has shown that few Coal Tits travel far from their natal area. Strangely enough it is Coal Tits from the North West of England that travel furthest from the average of just 20km between seasons. This thought to relate to the distribution of suitable habitats between this and other regions. (BTO Migration Atlas). 

The further recovery of Coal Tit ALJ 4344 ringed here at Oakenclough on 21 July 2020 becomes one of the very few that Fylde Ringing Group has received in many years and 1120 captures of Coal Tits.  When Andy and I caught ALJ4344 bird on 21 July we confidently aged it as a juvenile born just several weeks before. The yellow cheeks alone were a dead giveaway. 

Coal Tit
 
We did not see ALJ4344 again during the summer and autumn of 2020 during many visits to Barnacre. A week ago we received notification that it had been recaptured by another ringer at Hoylake Shore, Wirral, Merseyside on 16 October 2020. This is just 67km from Oakenclough but represents quite a movement south for a Coal Tit and an example of autumnal movements that are more likely to be undertaken by first year birds than by adults. 

Coal Tit - Oakenclough to Hoylake

The south-south- west direction of travel might suggest that this Coal Tit was on its way to the extensive conifer forests of North Wales (see map) where it would join up with others of its kind and prove able to survive the winter? 

We have a good recapture rate of Coal Tits so there is every chance that during the spring and summer of 2021 we will recapture ALJ4344 when it returns to Oakenclough looking for somewhere to nest. 

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Our flip-flopping chaotic Government changed the rules again to tell us to lockdown again. Therefore today could be the first and last opportunity for a while to carry out our crucial work of monitoring bird populations. 

Meanwhile, and via the website of BASC (British Association for Shooting and Conservation) - a lobby group with a great deal of influence with the gun-toting Establishment of Britain and Ireland. 

“Rough shooting, wildfowling and deer management may continue during the lockdown period as outdoor recreational activities, as long as you comply with the guidance. This includes making short journeys to your place of exercise, where you can only exercise with people you live with, your support bubble (if you are living alone), or one person from another household”

Such guidelines must now include bird ringing, unpaid voluntary work that is surely more vital than “rough shooting”? If rough shooting is a “recreational activity” it is also a proven fact that participation in outdoor pursuits like birding or bird ringing relieves the strain on NHS resources through the promotion of physical and mental well being. 

In forcing people to stay indoors for another month, or more, the Government is complicit in an act of self-harm to a large proportion of the population. 

The policies of lockdown, Stay at Home/Save Lives/Protect the NHS and social distancing have cost at least as many lives as saved but with cruel consequences, callously so for the most vulnerable elderly by denying hospital treatment to many people suffering from serious, sometimes incurable illnesses. 

Two of my own family wait for hospital appointments and operations that may now be deferred or even cancelled because the government say that they do not have priority. 

That's all for now back soon. Stay focused on the truth everyone.