Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Migration In Action

I have probably said this on here a few times but one of the beauties of watching a coastal site is being able to see exactly what is or what isn't happening migration-wise. If it is a coastal site with limited cover it is even better, even over here on the 'barren' west coast! It also doesn' take huge numbers of birds to create a spectacle and this morning at Rossall it was one of those mornings.

Ian and I arrived at the 'obs' at 6.30 a.m. and we put just two 40 foot nets up in the dark. Unfortunately I had to go to work later in the morning so it was going to be a short ringing session as well as being short in net length. In fact the nets were down by 10.00 a.m. and we processed 40 new birds as follows (retraps in brackets):

Blackbird - 9 (1)
Greenfinch - 15; responding to the 'play-back'
Wren - 1
Goldcrest - 1
Long-tailed Tit - 4
Chaffinch - 1
Robin - 1
Goldfinch - 1
Great Tit - 4
Blue Tit - (1)




Great Tit


Long-tailed Tit

In the early morning darkness Redwings were calling and it was impossible to tell exactly how many birds were involved. As it became light we could see a few birds responding to the 'play-back' but they were refusing to get caught.

During the morning we had 62 Redwings and it was spectacular to watch them drop out of the sky with Blackbirds and Song Thrush. The Blackbirds and Song Thrsushes were moving up and down the hedges and then climbing high into the sky and moving on. We had 32 Blackbirds and 10 Song Thrushes grounded and unfortunately these birds were in the area where we would normally have two other nets up so they evaded capture.

Large numbers of Jackdaws were on the move this morning and in total we had 425 head south with single figures of Carrion Crows amongst them.

On one net round Ian and I were approaching a net and 6 Coal Tits dropped out of the sky and whistled past our ears into some willows. Unfortunately they didn't head towards our net but worked back the other way for a few yards and then climbed into the air and headed off. This happened again later in the morning with 5 Blue Tits. Cool!

It always amazes where the Greenfinch come from when we switch on the 'play-back' calls, as almost immediately they just drop out of the sky straight to where the MP3 player is. I can only assume like a lot of the other finches they are moving out of range of our sight and hearing. Incredible!

As you may have gathered there was quite a bit of vis this morning and other species and totals included 30 Meadow Pipits, 3 Lesser Redpolls, 2 Brambling, 140 Pink-footed Geese, 11 Siskins, 2 Grey wagtails, Reed Bunting and Mistle Thrush. These totals don't include the numerous 'heard only' birds that were coursing through the stratosphere!

A party of 12 Long-tailed Tits, plus a few Blue and Greats, moved through and you will have noticed from the ringing totals above that we only managed to ring 4 of the Long-taileds. A juvenile male Sparrowhawk spent all morning on and off trying to catch something as we saw it regularly flicking through and over the hedgerows.

Out of interest the Redwing passage only commenced here at 2145 last night and I was recording 8 calls per minute. You'll have to excuse me while I just go and have a listen again.

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