Sunday, 8 May 2011

Rain Postpones Play

One of the problems with ringing operations at Rossall is that we are dependant on mist nets. This means that we can't really catch and ring birds when it is too windy or drizzly, when often it is these conditions that ground migrants. Also, we have to process the birds at a table outdoors, which means again if it is wet it makes this virtually impossible. Today was one of those mornings, and this has been the pattern over the past 10 days or so, when it was raining and too windy to do any ringing. My alarm went off at 5.30 a.m. (a bit late I know) and a look out of the window confirmed that it was blowy and pouring down so I snatched another couple of hours sleep. Eventually I got to the 'obs' mid-morning and had a wander round.

First up were a party of 7 screamimg Swifts overhead in the humid and murky conditions. I had about a dozen Swallows during my 'census', but it was difficult to discern whether any of these were birds moving through. Singing Sedge Warblers and Whitethroats were obvious and I had 6 and 5 of each respectively. If we had been able to ring over the past couple of weeks I might have been able to tell which were the resident males and which were males moving through.

 Sedge Warbler

A Lesser Whitethroat 'rattled' from the 'central' hedge and a late Siskin called overhead flying south into the southerly wind. The only other 'vis' was restricted to a single White Wagtail north and 2 Goldfinch. A male Reed Bunting and 2 Sedge Warblers (already mentioned) sang from the 'dunes' reedbed, and 7 House Sparrows were foraging for invertebrates in a large patch of Japanese Rose.

 Japanese Rose

The grassland in this area was full of Starlings, also foraging for invertebrates, amongst the Birds-foot Trefoil and the Thrift.


In the middle of census I stopped off for what became a 45 minute seawatch after some wet weather came in and brought an end to proceeding and recorded 3 Gannets, 20 Arctic Terns, 6 Common Scoters, 14 Sandwich Terns and a single male Eider. The only wader on the beach was a single Turnstone.

 A ship on the beach laying a cable to some new wind turbines at sea

The only grounded migrants I had were two female Wheatears perched on the fence behind the sea wall and it was now time to escape the torrential rain and head for cover!

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