Saturday, 1 December 2012

5000 up and a surprise Pipit!

Things didn't get off to the best of starts this morning. Despite an almost perfect forecast, when I woke up, there had been rainfall overnight and indeed, by the time I arrived at Moxey's, it was positively pissing it down - cue much slagging off of the Met Office. Nevertheless, being the optimists that we are (for optimist, also read Evertonian), we set off for Kings Moss and thankfully, by the time we came off the East Lancs Rd, the rain had ceased. We promptly got our nets up and stuck to the matter at hand.

Whilst we were setting the nets in the half-light, we heard both Brambling and Willow Tit - two species yet to be ringed by ourselves in this calendar year. There was also an abundance of Chaffinches roosting in the long hedge with a small flock of forty or so later observed feeding at the site I am feeding up for Yellowhammer/Reed Bunting and Chaffinch.

Willow Tit (Poecile montanus)

As we returned down the hill to collect the rest of the gear, the two of us stood in awe of what can only be described as a constant stream of Woodpigeon heading towards us from over Crank hill. Estimates between 10,000-15,000 from Moxey, but I'm convinced it was closer to 1 million!!! We were also joined by a flock of 40ish Linnet, feeding in the stubble field alongside the cattle field and two Grey Wagtails feeding around the compost heap.

Back at the nets, the first bird out was a first-year Willow Tit, closely followed by one of three Brambling. The first net round also yielded Bullfinch, most of the days Chaffinch and an assortment of tits. And this was how proceedings would continue for the rest of the morning, each net round bringing about thirty birds from the two feeding stations.

Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis flammea)
 Brambling (Fringilla montefringilla)

Later on, with the last of the Brambling, we caught the first Yellowhammer for a while, taking our annual total to 66.

 Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)

The surprise catch of the day however was a Tree Pipit. The only species of pipit I would have expected to catch at the time of year would be Meadow Pipit, but from the outset, it was clear this bird was not a pratensis. After taking measurements of the hind claw (7mm), inspecting the markings in the 4th, 5th and 6th tail feathers and looking at the wing formula, there were only two possibilities, Olive-backed (hodgsonii) and Tree (trivilais). Given the colouration of the bird and inspecting pictures of recently observed Olive-backed Pipits in both France and Portugal, we reached the conclusion that this was a (very) late Tree Pipit.

Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)

And so, by the end of the session, we had been very busy and totalling up, we were only three birds short of ringing an even one hundred. This means that we (me and Moxey) have ringed over 5,000 birds this calendar year and as a site, King Moss has already contributed more than 1,300 of these ringed birds.

Wren -   (1)
L.T.Tit -   1   (1)
Blue Tit -   25   (8)
Great Tit -   4   (4)
Willow Tit -   1
Chaffinch -   15   (1)
Goldfinch -   6
Lesser Redpoll -   3
Bullfinch -   1
Yellowhammer -   1
Brambling -   3
Robin -   (1)
Tree Pipit -   1
Greenfinch -   35   (6)
Blackbird -   1   (1)

TOTAL:   97   (23)

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