Monday, 18 September 2017

Goldcrests on a high.

When I checked the weather forecast on Saturday night the weather for Sunday morning was due to be dry and if any showers developed they would only be from late morning onwards, but when I got up at 5am it was chucking it down. A check of the Met Office rainfall radar revealed a narrow band of showers tracking across the country from Newcastle area on the NE coast and running southwestwards towards Liverpool and north Wales, taking them over my home and the ringing site at Billinge in the process. There were gaps between the showers so I decided to head up to the ringing site as it looked like there may be a dry slot just after sunrise. Before smart phones and mobile Internet I would have gone back to bed but having the ability to check almost real time rainfall radar has changed things and makes it possible to take advantage of opportunities that would have been missed in years gone by.

I set 3 nets in the top willows and while I thought I would only get a dry hour or so, at most, the showers that were heading in my direction largely skirted the site and the session remained dry, apart from the odd very light sprinkle. Technology and an old fashioned eye on the sky really paid off and the session ended with a total of 57 new birds and 3 retraps. Goldcrests led the way with a total of 34 being the highest of the autumn so far. The species is what you might call a bread and butter bird at the site in autumn and while catches of 10 to 20 are not unusual in September and October catches of 30+ are much less common. Today's catch of 34 brings the number of Goldcrests ringed this September to 148 and we are only just over half way through the month.


1cy male Goldcrest

1cy male Goldcrest
Ringing totals (retraps in brackets) for 17/09/17 were: Goldcrest 34; Blue Tit 1; Great Tit 2; Chiffchaff 8 (1); Blackcap 6;  Long-tailed Tit (1);Wren 1; Blackbird 1 (1); Robin 1; Chaffinch 1; Bullfinch 1;Reed Bunting 1.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

More Goldcrests on the move.

There was a brief lull in the unsettled weather this morning so I headed up to Billinge to make the most of the calmer conditions. I set 3 nets in the top willows but used a different net configuration to the one I have been using recently as the breeze was due to strengthen from mid morning. It would have been a fairly quiet session but there was a rush of birds about an hour after sunrise that boosted the totals and accounted for nearly half of the 50 birds that were caught over the course of the morning.

The catch was dominated by Goldcrests (19) and Chiffchaffs (14) as is often the case at this time of year and one of the Goldcrest, a 1cy female, was a control (a bird ringed elsewhere). I suspect this Goldcrest may have been ringed on Walney Island (68km NNW of Billinge) as the ring number was fairly close to one I have had from there before, although that is only an educated guess at this stage and I will only know its origin for certain when the recovery report comes through. The best of the rest were a Grey Wagtail, the first Willow Tit for a while and 2 Yellowhammers.


Control 1cy female Goldcrest HDB637

1cy Willow Tit
There were a few more Meadow Pipits moving overhead than there have been so far this autumn but it was still not much more than a trickle and petered out as the breeze picked up. A few Reed Buntings were also on the move early on and was the first obvious movement of that species this autumn and resulted in 3 being caught. However, it very much had the feel that the weather was holding up diurnal migrants and more would have been moving had the conditions been clearer and the breeze hadn't increased so much.

Ringing totals (retraps/controls in brackets) for 10/09/17 were: Goldcrest 17(2); Blue Tit 1; Great Tit 1; Willow Tit 1; Long-tailed Tit 1; Chiffchaff 13(1); Willow Warbler 2; Blackcap 1; Wren 1; Grey Wagtail 1; Chaffinch 1; Greenfinch 2; Yellowhammer 2; Reed Bunting 3.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Billinge 7th September 2017

The 7th provided a brief interlude in the current run of unsettled weather so got up at daft o'clock to make the most of it. I set the usual 3 nets in the top willows at first light and the following few hours produced a decent catch of 60 new birds and 1 retrap. Ringing highlights were a Redstart which continued the exceptional run of records of that species, 3 Grey Wagtails was a good total as I didn't see more than 6 going south and 4 1cy Coal Tits hinted at the start of some movement in that species.

The Redstart was the 6th to be ringed this autumn and to put that into context only 4 were ringed during the previous three. Interestingly 5 of the 6 have been females.

1cy Coal Tit, noisy individuals and the occasional small group are usually seen or heard heading south on fine days through much of September and well into October.
There was very little movement overhead but there were a few interesting bits a pieces in the form of a group of 3 Song Thrush flying very high to the west, 2 Tree Pipits going south and a Crossbill also going south. There were surprisingly few Meadow Pipits going over and a trickle amounting to no more than about 30 were noted heading SSW. The only other sighting of note was another Redstart that was seen after I had packed up and was carrying my gear back to the car.

Only 2 Willow Warblers were caught and this one hadn't finished its pj moult but it had a weight of 9.4g and enough fat to migrate a good distance.
Ringing totals for 07/09/17 were: Goldcrest 9; Blue Tit 8; Great Tit 2; Coal Tit 4; Chiffchaff 14 (1); Willow Warbler 2; Blackcap 2; Whitethroat 1; Robin 2; Redstart 1; Grey Wagtail 3; Chaffinch 6; Goldfinch 6.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

2nd is better than 1st

The ringing session at Billinge on the 1st was good but the 2nd's proved to be even better. It was similar in many respects but had the added bonus of some infrequently caught species in the form of 2 Redstarts and a Spotted Flycatcher. Both are scarce passage migrants in the area these days and I consider myself lucky if I catch one or two of each over the autumn. The 2 Redstarts brought this autumn's total to 5 which is exceptional as I have never caught more than 2 in previous years and the Spotted Flycatcher was the second of the autumn. Interestingly, the Spotted Flycatcher was caught in the same part of the same net as the previous one and while no more than a coincidence such 'deja vu' type occurrences always stand out and stick in one's mind.

Both Redstarts were 1cy females.

1cy Spotted Flycatcher. Only the 6th to be ringed at the site in the last 4 years.
Once again Goldcrests dominated proceedings with most of the 23 new birds and single retrap being caught in the first couple of hours. The retrap wasn't from the previous day as some might expect and was originally ringed on 13th August when part way through its post-juvenile moult. At this time of year there are frequent movement of Goldcrests through the site and it is rare for any to hang about for more than a day once they start moving.

Chiffchaff was the second most numerous species with 14 new birds and 1 retrap being caught and while numbers were down on those of the 1st it is still a good total for that species. Once again the retrap hadn't been ringed recently and had been ringed as a scruffy juvenile on 9th July this year which gives an indication of how long it takes them to complete their protracted post-juvenile moult.

There were more Robins about than there have been recently and the 5 ringed is a sign they were on the move. The first half of September usually sees quite a few Robins pass through site, more so following a good breeding season, and is largely made up of displaced birds that are looking for somewhere to carve out a winter territory but may also include some genuine migrants.

The weather is looking pretty ropey for the next week so opportunities to get out ringing could be very limited to say the least. Is this going to be a year we don't get an Indian summer ? 

Ringing totals (retraps in brackets) for 02/09/17 were: Goldcrest 23(1); Blue Tit 2(1); Great Tit 6; Chiffchaff 14(1); Willow Warbler 4; Blackcap 4; Spotted Flycatcher 1; Robin 5; Redstart 2; Tree Pipit 1; Chaffinch 4; Goldfinch 4; Reed Bunting 1. A total of 71 new birds and 3 retraps.

Friday, 1 September 2017

A good start to September.

I arrived at Billinge a little later than planned but early enough to get the nets up just before sunrise. A Goldcrest was calling as I lugged my gear up to the net rides in the top willows and a dozen or so Swallows were exiting their roost as I approached the first net ride. It had been a cool, clear night and could have resulted in a clear out of birds but I heard another Goldcrest and a couple of Chiffchaffs calling as I was putting up the second of the three nets so I was reasonably optimistic about the prospects for the morning. As I was putting up the last net a Chiffchaff flew into it before it was fully open which was another promising sign.

As soon as the last net was set I went straight back to the first and found 5 Goldcrest, 3 Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler had been caught. On completing the first round of the nets 12 Goldcrests, 8 Chiffchaffs and a Willow Warbler had been extracted which was a cracking start to the morning and the new month. Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs were clearly on the move and more filtered through the bushes over the next couple of hours and kept me quite busy.  The catching rate slowed to a more steady pace from about 09:30 and I packed up just over an hour later when a check of the rainfall radar confirmed a hefty looking shower was heading my way.

1cy Chiffchaff
The final total of 70 new birds and 3 retraps included 21 Goldcrests and 24 Chiffchaffs with the later being a new day record for the site. Goldcrests continue to look like they have had a very good breeding season with today's 21 following record totals in July (19) and August (42) so, weather permitting, it could prove to be a record September too.

1cy male Goldcrest
Ringing totals (retraps in brackets) for 01/09/17 were: Goldcrest 21; Blue Tit 4 (2); Great Tit 1 (1); Chiffchaff 24; Willow Warbler 4; Blackcap 5; Tree Pipit 1; Chaffinch 6; Goldfinch 3; Reed Bunting 1.

Billinge 22nd - 30th August 2017

I have managed to get out nearly every morning since my last post although some of the sessions were affected by fog, delayed and/or curtailed by showers or a strengthening breeze. A total of 200 birds were ringed and another 13 were retrapped over the period which is reasonable number given the mixed weather conditions and the limited number of nets used. There were no major surprises although sylvia warblers were in short supply throughout. Chiffchaffs took over from Willow Warblers as the most numerous warbler species as is usual in late August and all the less frequently caught species were what could be termed the usual suspects.


Species
New
Retrap
Species
New
Retrap
Goldcrest
18
1
Blackbird
2
0
Blue Tit
11
1
Song Thrush
2
0
Great Tit
15
2
Robin
5
0
Coal Tit
2
0
Redstart
3
0
Long-tailed Tit
0
3
Dunnock
1
0
Chiffchaff
54
3
Tree Sparrow
1
0
Willow Warbler
20
1
Grey Wagtail
2
0
Blackcap
8
0
Tree Pipit
9
0
Garden Warbler
0
1
Chaffinch
21
0
Grasshopper Warbler
1
0
Bullfinch
6
0
Reed Warbler
1
0
Greenfinch
3
0
Nuthatch
1
0
Linnet
3
0
Treecreeper
2
0
Goldfinch
5
0
Wren
1
1
Yellowhammer
3
0
Total for the period: 200 new birds and 13 retraps

Ringing highlights and noteworthy sightings were as follows:

22/08/17 - At least 12 Tree Pipits were on the move despite early fog and generally poor visibility but only 1 was ringed.

23/08/17 - This session was also affected by fog, some light drizzle and stayed quite murky once the fog cleared. It went so dark at one point birds went very quiet and some seemed to go to roost. However, this visit produce the first Redstart of the autumn, a 1cy female, amongst a catch of only 15 birds. At least 7 Tree Pipits headed south despite the conditions and 2 of them were caught. As the light drizzle stopped there was an unexpected sighting of a flock of 11 Dunlin flying low over the site and heading NNE, they may have been disorientated in the very murky conditions or simply been forced down by the very low cloud.

25/08/17 - Chiffchaffs really took over from Willow Warblers with ringing totals of 14 and 1 respectively. Another 2 Tree Pipits were ringed from a total of 6 recorded.

27/08/17 - Grey Wagtail passage got going with at least 4 passing over the site and 1 was ringed. Interestingly, similar movements were reported from sites across the country. Another 2 Tree Pipits were ringed from a total of 9 recorded. A juvenile Tree Sparrow was an unusual capture although a few had been recorded flying high over the site on the previous 2 days.


The first Grey Wagtail ringed this autumn
28/08/17 - A 1cy Reed Warbler was well away from its usual habitat and was only the 2nd to be ringed this autumn. This species is a scarce but regular autumn passage migrant at the site and 9 of the previous 13 records have been in the narrow period 23rd to 31st July with the remainder being on widespread dates in August. This session was also noteworthy for being the first of the autumn without a Willow Warbler being ringed or recorded.

1cy Reed Warbler
29/08/17 - A short, rain delayed session produced a Blackbird with an interesting plumage and not much else.


This 1cy male Blackbird is similar to what is sometimes referred to as the 'Stockamsel' variety. Had this bird been seen later in the autumn or during the winter it may have been thought to be of continental origin but there is virtually no chance of that in late August.

Its post-juvenile moult was almost complete.

It had a wing length of 131 mm which is towards the longer end of the range for locally bred birds but is not exceptional by any means.

1cy male Blackbird. A locally bred 'Stockamsel' type.
30/08/17 - Highlights were a Grasshopper Warbler and 2 Redstarts. At least 9 Tree Pipits were recorded 2 of which were caught. A few Grey Wagtails were on the move but only 1 was caught. There was a little flurry of Willow Warblers with 8 being ringed and this was more noteworthy as it followed a total absence of the species on the previous two days and was the only day that they outnumbered Chiffchaffs during the period.


1cy female Redstart 30/08/17

1cy male Redstart 30/08/17
S881488 adult Tree Pipit. This adult had retained 2 old lesser coverts. Apparently it is not uncommon to see this in adult Tree Pipits. There is certainly no doubt about the age of such birds. 

S881488 adult Tree Pipit. The tail feathers were much more rounded than those of the adults shown in my last post.

S881489 1cy Tree Pipit

S881489 1cy Tree Pipit. The 2nd outermost tail feather was missing on the right side of the tail. The shape of the tail is similar to the adult above but the contrast between the light and dark areas on the tail feathers isn't quite as strong. This difference in contrast can be a useful feature when ageing, according to some guides, although it isn't an easy difference to get to grips with and reportedly takes plenty of practice.


S881489 1cy Tree Pipit

Monday, 21 August 2017

Tree Pipits come to the fore

The last couple of days have seen a marked increase in the number of Tree Pipits on the move at Billinge with a minimum of 10 recorded yesterday and 30+ today. It is not easy to keep track of numbers when you are busy ringing and it doesn't help that many don't call when flying over so I am sure I will have missed a few on both days. The increase in numbers on the move was also reflected in the ringing totals with 5 ringed yesterday and another 12 today.

Today's total of 12 ringed is the 2nd highest day total for the site and has only been bettered twice; on 14/08/14 and 17/08/15 with 13 ringed on both of those dates. Half of today's Tree Pipits were adults which is quite unusual but it gave me an opportunity to photograph some of the plumage features used when ageing birds in autumn. More information on ageing Tree Pipits can be found here, here and here (the latter being the best in my opinion) They are fairly straightforward to age once you get your eye in and fully understand their moult, especially if you get to handle quite a few, but I would say they are not as easy to age as Meadow Pipits.


S881408 1cy Tree Pipit. The fringes of the unmoulted median and greater coverts are quite worn and very pale (a cold bleached straw colour) when compared with those of the adult below and is probably from an early brood. It should be noted that the margins of median coverts and greater coverts of juveniles from later brood are less worn and can be more olive-buff like adults.


S881401 Adult (2cy+) Tree Pipit. Adults have fresher and more olive-buff fringed median and greater coverts.

S881401 2cy+ Tree Pipit. This adult was interesting in that it hadn't replaced 2 lesser coverts which stand out as being very worn and bleached.


S881401 2cy Tree Pipit. A closer look at those retained lesser coverts. They are very worn and have a narrow and bleached white fringe and shouldn't be mistaken for retained juvenile feathers. Birds like this can easily trap the inexperienced and unwary.


S881401 2cy+ Tree Pipit tail. Fresher and generally more pointed than the typical juvenile tail except for the central pair which are usually a bit more rounded when fresh compared to the central pair of a worn juvenile (see tail of S881408 below) but be aware some juveniles replace the central pair of tail feathers.


S881408 1cy Tree Pipit wing. This bird hasn't replaced any of the median coverts, greater coverts or tertials so there are no obvious moult limits to make ageing easy. Even the outer row of lesser coverts are all old. You just have to rely on wear and colour with birds like this.


S881408 1cy Tree Pipit tail


S881410 2cy+ Tree Pipit tail.


S881410 2cy+ Tree Pipit wing.

Ringing totals for 20/08/17 were: Sparrowhawk 1; Goldcrest 3; Blue Tit 9; Chiffchaff 6; Willow Warbler 15 (1); Blackcap 1; Whitethroat 2; Treecreeper 1; Wren 1; Tree Pipit 5; Chaffinch 1; Linnet 2; Goldfinch 2.

Ringing totals for 21/08/17 were: Chiffchaff 2 (1); Willow Warbler 6 (1); Whitethroat 1; Nuthatch 1; Tree Pipit 12; Chaffinch 4; Bullfinch 2.


Juvenile male Sparrowhawk 20/08/17
Juvenile male Sparrowhawk 20/08/17


Nuthatch 21/08/17

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Billinge 13th & 16th August: mixed weather and mixed results.

Decent weather has been at a premium this August so it has been a case of trying to get out ringing whenever conditions and circumstances allow. The 13th provided one of those opportunities and produced a catch of 50 new birds with Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs making up half the total. Willow Warblers topped the totals with 18 ringed, their highest total of the month, but the juvenile:adult ratio remained quite low at 2.6:1 (13 juveniles to 5 adults). At the other end of the scale only 1 Tree Pipit was ringed which was very disappointing as we are approaching peak passage for that species and only 4 were seen all morning, on the other hand the capture of a Spotted Flycatcher was a very nice surprise as they are a very scarce passage migrant these days and it's even rarer for one to find its way into a net.


Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher 13/08/17 - the only record of the autumn so far.
Ringing totals for 13/08/17 were: Goldcrest 2; Blue Tit 5; Great Tit 2; Coal Tit 1; Chiffchaff 7; Willow Warbler 18; Blackcap 3; Whitethroat 1; Blackbird 1; Spotted Flycatcher 1; Robin 1; Tree Pipit 1; Chaffinch 3; Bullfinch 3; Lesser Redpoll 1.

The 16th turned out to be a fairly quiet day with many birds having departed since my previous visit and precious little coming through to replace them. Only 25 birds were ringed which is below the average for mid-August. There was a bit of movement overhead with a party of 5 Snipe flying high to the north (the first record of the autumn) and a total of 9 Tree Pipits flying south (the second highest total recorded this autumn) being the best of what little there was. Warblers were in short supply and only 5 Willow Warblers were ringed which suggests they have passed their peak. The proportion of juvenile Willow Warblers continues to be unusually low with just 3 of the 5 ringed being youngsters. Two of the Chiffchaffs ringed were interesting in that they had completed their post juvenile moult and this should signal an increase in the numbers migrating through the site from now on.

Chiffchaffs can start migrating in earnest once they have completed their pj moult.
Ringing totals for 16/08/17 were: Goldcrest 2; Blue Tit 2; Chiffchaff 5; Willow Warbler 5; Blackcap 2; Whitethroat 2; Tree Pipit 4; Chaffinch 2; Linnet 1.

Tree Pipit - one of four ringed on the 16th.


Saturday, 12 August 2017

Billinge 10th August 2017 - more on Willow Warblers

Well, buy me a flat cap and call me Victor because I am bringing up the subject of Willow Warblers and age ratios again. Another ringing session at Billinge on the 10th resulted in a catch of 42 birds that included 11 Willow Warblers, 7 of which were adults. I didn't know what to expect given the complete absence of juvenile Willow Warblers in the previous day's catch but I didn't think adults would outnumber juveniles by almost 2:1. It increasingly looks like Willow Warblers have had a very poor breeding season and I can't see the situation improving unless there have been a lot of successful late broods and those juveniles have yet to come through.


Eye colour can be used to help age Willow Warblers in autumn. Adults have a brown eye approaching chestnut colour like the bird on the right whilst the eye colour of juveniles is much duller and greyer like the bird on the left. I have not used this feature prior to this autumn but it appears to be very reliable from what I have seen so far and is well worth using in conjunction with the usual plumage features. It wasn't easy to photograph but is fairly easy to see in the hand with the naked eye, although some may find use of a low magnification hand lens helpful.
Willow Warblers are generally single brooded and although they are amongst the first of the summer visitors to arrive they have a pretty tight schedule as autumn migration peaks towards the middle of August and the adults also have to fit in a complete moult. The schedule is so tight adult Willow Warblers may start to moult before they have completed breeding, they also moult quite quickly and they often start migrating before the moult is complete. That tight schedule limits the opportunity for late broods (be they second broods or repeat nesting attempts following earlier failures) which means the chances of there being a surge in juvenile numbers from them is really quite low.

While there is evidence that climate change is causing some summer visitors to arrive a little earlier and depart a bit later than they used to it doesn't mean the duration of stay of individuals is getting significantly longer nor does it mean the timing of migration has changed significantly for the bulk of the population. Willow Warblers that arrive a little earlier may simply be amongst the first to leave and those that stay later are more likely to be juveniles and they may also be compromising their survival chances by a later departure. It certainly doesn't look like climate change is extending the breeding season for Willow Warblers or likely to lead to an increased occurence of second or late broods.

Whilst climate change may be extending the spring and autumn periods the major impact on Willow Warbler productivity is caused by the weather during the breeding season, and the levels of rainfall in particular. It is not just the amount of rainfall that matters but also its intensity that can make all the difference when it comes to breeding outcomes and more intense rain is one of the consequences of a warming climate. Met Office statistics show June 2017 has been amongst the wettest on record, with the UK as a whole having 50% more rainfall than average. Whilst North Merseyside wasn't one of the worst affected areas in terms of increased rainfall it did experience some intense downpours that could have led to increased nest failures and increased mortality of recently fledged young. Parts of northern England and southern Scotland have received more than twice the normal June rainfall and that could have had an even bigger impact on productivity in those regions. 

Juvenile Willow Warbler 10/08/17.
This recently fledged juvenile had only just started its post-juvenile moult and must have come from a late nesting attempt. Their fluffy juvenile plumage probably doesn't provide much protection from prolonged or intense periods of rain.
So it seems to have been a wash out for Willow Warblers this year and while there may be some regional differences I suspect the overall picture will show productivity is below average and well below that of last year. The higher number of adults caught in July may have been due to a high incidence of failure late in the nestling stage as that wouldn't have left enough time for those adults to make another breeding attempt. Such failed breeders may have started migrating a little earlier as a result.

Other ringing highlights from the 10th were: a young male Sparrowhawk, the first of the autumn; another 5 new Goldcrests bringing their August total to 14 and autumn total to 33 which is well up on last year; 2 Tree Pipits from at least 12 seen which is the first double figure movement of the autumn and fairly typical for the date.


This young male Sparrowhawk had the odd remnant of down on the tips of  some of the feathers of the mantle.

I love Tree Pipits.
Ringing totals for 10/08/17 were: Sparrowhawk 1; Goldcrest 5 (1); Blue Tit 4; Great Tit 2; Coal Tit 1; Long-tailed Tit 4; Chiffchaff 3; Willow Warbler 11; Blackcap 1; Whitethroat 2; Wren 1; Song Thrush 1; Tree Pipit 2; Goldfinch 1; Yellowhammer 1; Reed Bunting (1).

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

'I don't believe it!'

I had a Victor Meldrew moment this morning, in fact I had several of them. The weather forecast for this morning wasn't brilliant but the rain cleared about a hour after sunrise and I ventured up to Billinge despite the stiff northerly breeze. I mainly wanted to see if any Tree Pipits would start to move after the rain had gone through but also took opportunity to put up a couple of nets in the sheltered rides of the NE corner of the site while I was there.

There didn't appear to be any Tree Pipits moving or much else for that matter and there wasn't much moving around in the bushes either. It was a surprise, therefore, to find a Tree Pipit in one of the nets on the second net round but that wasn't one of the 'I don't believe it' moments. The second net round also produced a single Willow Warbler and interestingly it was a new adult. Regular readers of this blog will know that I have been catching more adults than usual this autumn so catching another adult wasn't a huge surprise. When the next Willow Warbler also turned out to be a new adult I simply thought it was just one of those things that can happen by chance and that I would catch some juveniles in subsequent net rounds.

The catching rate was very slow but when the 3rd Willow Warbler of the morning also turned out to be a new adult I did start to think 'I don't believe it' and I may even have said it out loud. The next net round produced yet another adult Willow Warbler and another 'I don't believe it', this time the bird was a retrap that was last caught in April of this year. At that point I still thought I was likely to catch at least a couple of juveniles before I packed up because a catch that only included adults seemed so unlikely as to be unthinkable. When the penultimate net round produced another new adult, the 5th of the morning, it produced another 'I don't believe it' from me. The final net round drew a blank so it was a case of 5 adults out of 5 and not a juvenile in sight!.

I know its not a big sample but to catch 5 Willow Warblers on 9th August and for all of them to be adults is exceptional to say the least. It certainly underscores how unusual the juvenile:adult ratio has been at the site this autumn and I am sure it is a subject I will come back to again at some point.


Adult Willow Warbler 09/08/17. Four of the five had completed their full moult and the one that was still in moult had nearly finished.
Ringing totals for 09/08/17 were: Chiffchaff 2; Willow Warbler 4 (1); Blackcap 2; Tree Pipit 1.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Billinge 6th & 7th August: First Tree Pipits

It is that time of year when I expect to get my first Tree Pipits of the autumn and I wasn't disappointed with 1 ringed yesterday and another 3 today. None of them announced their presence by calling before they were caught and I didn't see any of them drop in as I usually do when passing birds are attracted to the audio lures. A total of 3 were seen yesterday but the 3 ringed today were the only ones recorded. Over the last 3 years the first autumn sighting has been between the 1st and 7th of August so yesterday's birds were pretty much bang on time.


Tree Pipit 06/08/17
Other highlights from the 2 sessions were the capture of 4 Garden Warblers and 5 Whitethroats; the latter qualifying a highlight because I only managed to ring 1 Whitethroat in the whole of July. Another 6 juvenile Goldcrest supports my previous comments about the species having a productive breeding season. Goldcrests have a long breeding season and many pairs are probably still churning out more young so it may turn out to be another bumper year.


Garden Warbler 06/08/17
Ringing totals for 05/08/217 were: Goldcrest 3; Blue Tit 18; Great Tit 2; Coal Tit 1; Chiffchaff 3; Willow Warbler 17(4); Blackcap 3; Garden Warbler 3; Whitethroat 2; Wren 1; Blackbird 1; Tree Pipit 1; Chaffinch 2; Bullfinch 1. Total 58 new birds and 4 retraps.

Ringing totals for 06/08/17 were: Goldcrest 3; Blue Tit 3; Chiffchaff 2, Willow Warbler 8 (2); Garden Warbler 1; Whitethroat 3; Wren 1; Song Thrush 2; Robin 1; Tree Pipit 3; Bullfinch (1); Goldfinch 1. Total 28 new birds and 3 retraps.