Monday, 28 December 2009

King Of Buntings

It's always nice to catch and ring Corn Bunting as they are amazing birds in the hand. Every time I handle one I am always surprised at how big they are.

This morning Ian and I went to Rawcliffe Moss to ring at the feeding station. The forecast last night said that there would be freezing fog, but based on recent experience I chose to ignore this and I was glad that I did because it was a superb morning; flat calm and virtually clear skies. Perfect for ringing. Two nets were put up adjacent to the hedge at the feeding station and we managed to ring 33 birds and retrapped 13 including nine Tree Sparrows, four Yellowhammers, nine Chaffinch and the above Corn Bunting.

Cracking male Yellowhammer

At one stage as I looked at the nets with my bins the regular Great Spotted Woodpecker that feeds on the nut feeders was perched on the side of a mist net pole! When a bird perches on a mist net pole you know you're not going to catch it as the bird is obviously aware of the net. I remember some years ago now the warden at Holme Bird Observatory in Norfolk telling me that on one net round he had a Bee-eater perched on top of a mist net pole!

As I have said in the past it is always difficult birding if you are fairly busy ringing and some of the counts tend to be on the low side, but I always try my best to try and record everything observed as well. Raptors this morning were represented by two Buzzards, Peregrine and Kestrel. The Peregrine flew over the stubble field to the west and caused mayhem as it went.

Young Peregrine

As usual about eight Yellowhammers, in addition to the four ringed, were feeding around the Pheasant feeder and it was very difficult to estimate the number of Tree Sparrows. Including the birds ringed I put about 75 in my notebook, but there could well have been more. Chaffinch numbered about twenty and two Grey Partridge flushed from the track as we did our first net round.

We had good views of three Roe Deer and later in the morning I had a further two in the 'big' field. I also had brilliant views of a Brown Hare that was completely oblivious to my presence and came within fifteen feet of me. Even at this stage it didn't know I was there and moved off and cut through a hedge into the adjacent field.

Pink-footed Geese were on the move this morning and we had over 1,200 heading west. Some of these might have ended up at Fleetwood, because in the afternoon I twitched two rossicus Bean Geese that were amongst the 'Pinkies' just off Amounderness Way at Fleetwood. Unfortunately I had just started to go through the geese when they were flushed! I have seen several Bean Geese in the Fylde over the years, but these would have been my first for Fleetwood.

Looking back to my notebooks from 1983, I found myself birding at Rossall Point on 28th December. It was a cold overcast day with a moderate southwesterly wind and I started at first light with a seawatch. Quite a number of Kittiwakes were on the move that morning, but the best bird was an adult Glaucous Gull on the sea. Unfortunately, neither myself, Pat or Richard, who were with me that morning, ever submitted a description so it never ended up in the bird report.

Whilst seawatching we had nine Snow Buntings head west along the beach and we later re-located these birds behind the sea wall at Rossall School feeding on a stony bank. I wish we still got these sort of numbers in the Fylde today. The other good bird we had that morning was an adult Med Gull, feeding on the Fleetwood Nautical College fields. Med Gulls are ten a penny these days, but 26 years ago they were a good find!


Kane Brides said...

What a cracking bird that Corn Bunting is!!

Newton Stringer said...

Can you post that CB over here please !!

I had a pied flycatcher sitting on the top strand of a mist net last year, caught it in another net later on tho !!

Newton Stringer said...

PS - Here's my king(s and queens) of buntings on the patch at the moment...

Fleetwood Birder said...

They are cracking birds Kane. We don't ring many of them, but I am always knocked out by them when we do.

I'll swap you a Corn for one of your Laps G!