Sunday, 8 November 2009

The weather...

...was absolutely awful this morning, well it was shortly after I had put a couple of nets up at the feeding station on Rawcliffe Moss. The forecast last night from numerous weather websites stated that it would be raining until about midnight and then it would clear and the wind would be a light (5 mph-ish) northeasterly. Wrong! I arranged to meet Craig at the feeding station at 0630 to put a couple of nets up and hopefully ring a good number of Tree Sparrows.

As usual I couldn't sleep and from 0400 until 0500, I watched the alarm clock go round until I decided to get up. I was there early and had both nets up by 0615, and I watched Phil and Will drive up the track to try their luck with Thrushes in the plantation. As I was putting the nets up I had a few Redwings and Snipe calling as they flew over in the darkness and Grey partridge called from the wet field behind the hedge.

Back at base camp (the cars) we had four Tawny Owls (2 males and 2 females) calling from the vicinity of Curlew Wood and Phil later informed me that they had 2 in the plantation. In the gloom we could see a Barn Owl perched on a fence post in front of one of the nets and I wondered whether it was attracted to the Redwing call that I was playing on my MP3 player. It then took off and headed north along the 97 hedge. Phil and Will had a Barn Owl in the area of the plantation, but theirs could easily have been the same or a different bird.

Up until now the weather was okay, if a little breezy, but then it started to rain and it never really stopped from then onwards until we took the nets down. As the day dawned we could see just how wet the fields were. I have included two pictures of the same field below; one taken yesterday and the other today. Boy was it wet!



Two Buzzards flew along the side of Curlew Wood and one landed in the trees as the other continued west. Other raptors during the morning were a Kestrel and a juv male Sparrowhawk that shot low along the hedge, before seeing us at the last minute and flipping up and over the hedge, and back the way it came.

It was very difficult to estimate the numbers of birds using the feeding station as we did ring a few birds and we were also keeping a close eye on the weather and the nets. In my notebook I have recorded 90 Tree Sparrows, but I think that was an under-estimate, 2 Yellowhammers and single Corn Bunting. I said that we did ring a few birds and it was a few birds consisting of three Tree Sparrows, female Chaffinch and juv male Great Spotted Woodpecker. Craig was pleased as he had never ringed Great Spot before and he got off lightly as it was nice and calm in the hand!

Corn Bunt

A few wildfowl were moving a round this morning and we had 2,290 Pink-footed Geese, 24 Whooper Swans and 60 Lapwing. I know Lapwing aren't wildfowl but they fitted in here! After a couple of hours of 'shall we - shan't we' the weather got the better of us and we called it a day and took the nets down.

My notebook for 8th November 1991 reads "Desert Wheatear. Immature female, Rossall Point". And that was it! Talk about an under statement. It never ceases to amaze me when looking back at my old notebooks how sometimes I am straight to the point with very little detail and at other times I 'wax lyrical'.

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