Friday, 21 December 2012

Late December 2012

December 31st: Rainy afternoon. The best birds were 10 Waxwings, a Rough-legged Buzzard and a Water Rail.

December 30th: Windy. Around were 10 Waxwings.

December 29th: Rain most of day. South went 10 Whooper Swans. On Jackson's Marsh were 5 Water Pipits.

December 28th: Rainy morning, windy afternoon. Flying south were 27 Waxwings and 23 Snow Buntings. The Rough-legged Buzzard and 15 Fieldfares were around. On Tennyson Sands were a Pintail and a Goldeneye.
The persistent rain has resulted in standing water in a number of places on the reserve, including the Plantation.

                                   Flooded path in the Plantation (George Gregory)

December 27th: South went 21 Waxwings, 10 Whooper/ewick's Swans, 4 Stock Doves and a Crossbill. Around were a Rough-legged Buzzard, 7 Goldcrests, a Pintail and a Water Rail.
A prolonged ringing session at Aylmer Avenue yielded 110 birds processed, including a Brambling and 2 Goldcrests.

December 26th: Rainy afternoon. The best birds were 12 Waxwings, 7000 Golden Plovers, a Pintail and a Merlin.

December 25th: Rainy morning. Around were 10 Waxwings, 2 Twites, a Peregrine, 5 Woodcocks, 5000 Golden Plovers, a Pintail, a Lapland Bunting, a Water Pipit, 33 Fieldfares and a Hen Harrier.

December 24th: Rain all day. Around were 8 Waxwings and a Pintail. The huge Golden Plover flock across the River Steeping was disturbed by shooters on Wainfleet Marsh.
The flooded area on Gibraltar Road has increased and has more or less joined up with an enlarged Roadside Pond.

December 23rd: Windy. On Wainfleet Marsh were 16000 Golden Plovers and 2000 Lapwings. Otherwise, the best birds recorded were a 49 Waxwings, a Marsh Harrier, a Hen Harrier, a Merlin, 2 Bramblings, a Woodcock and 25 Corn Buntings.

December 22nd: Rain all day. A Woodcock was at Aylmer Avenue. The Golden Plover flock, mostly across the River Steeping, has increased to 10000 birds.
  The heavy and prolonged recent rain has flooded Gibraltar Road near the Yacht Club, albeit only to a few inches deep. This is on the landward side of the combined sea and tidal river defences, so is not caused by seawater, just by rain. Several times a year the road, car park and paths on the seaward side of the defences are temporarily flooded by seawater at high tides, but this is different.

                                 Gibraltar Road near the Yacht Club (George Gregory)

December 21st: The winter solstice. Around were 500 Golden Plovers. A Long-tailed Duck came in from the north and landed on the sea.
A ringing session at Aylmer Avenue produced the usual finches and tits, including many retraps.
  The World did not end today despite this being long predicted! It looks like another year's ringing coming up in just ten days' time.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Mid December 2012

December 20th: Rain all day, causing flooding on the road near the Yacht Club, a rare event. Little was seen.

December 19th: Flying south were 18 Waxwings and a Lapland Bunting. On the Mere were 520 Teals. Birds around included 2 Snow Buntings, a male Hen Harrier, 300 Lapwings and 500 Golden Plovers.

December 18th: South went 25 Waxwings, a Water Pipit and a Lapland Bunting. Present were 3 Woodcocks, a Cetti's Warbler and a Hen Harrier.
Ringing at Aylmer Avenue produced a moderate catch, including 3 new Bramblings.

December 17th: Landed birds included a Purple Sandpiper, a Cetti's Warbler, a Water Rail, 25 Corn Buntings and a Chiffchaff. Heading south were 28 Waxwings and 55 Fieldfares. Offshore were 50 Red-throated Divers and a Razorbill. In off the sea came a ringtail Hen Harrier.

December 16th: At least 124 Waxwings and 2 Lapland Buntings went south. Around were a Shorelark, a Purple Sandpiper, 12 Corn Buntings, a Chiffchaff, a Cetti's Warbler, 2 Hen Harriers, 7 Fieldfares, a Water Pipit and a Merlin.
A ringing session at Aylmer Avenue was reasonably productive, birds processed including 5 new Bramblings and a retrap Blue Tit at least 6 years old.

December 15th:  Milder. Flying south were 42 Waxwings. Offshore were a probable Surf Scoter (seen distantly) and a Great Skua. Other birds included a Cetti's Warbler, a Marsh Harrier, a Hen Harrier, a Merlin, a Buzzard, a Water Pipit, 11 Redwings, 4000 Golden Plovers, a Lapland Bunting and a Chiffchaff.

December 14th: Windy morning, rainy afternoon. A Pintail was on the Mere. Around were 1200 Golden Plovers, 12 Snow Buntings and a Goldcrest.

December 13th: Still frozen all day. The best birds were 5 Waxwings, a Goldeneye and 2 Pintails.

December 12th: Hoar frost all day. Around were 3 Fieldfares.

December 11th: Frozen morning, foggy afternoon. The main birds recorded were 15 Waxwings, 5 Woodcocks and 3 Fieldfares.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Early December 2012

December 10th: Intermittent rain. Around were 6 Waxwings, a Hen Harrier and a Water Rail. Going southeast were 2 Bewick's Swans

December 9th: A Grey Phalarope was seen at various sites. Also around were 15 Waxwings, a Peregrine and 30 Snow Buntings. Flying south were 3 Bewick's Swans.
  It was too windy for ringing today, so it was time to provide the ringing shed at Aylmer Avenue with a new notice board, salvaged from a skip! and to improve the feeding station with two new feeding posts to hold the new large capacity feeders that have been generously donated. We can now accommodate 24 Greenfinches and 40 Goldfinches on just four feeders at two positions. Hopefully this is going to pay huge dividends when we come to the spring finch passage. There seems to still be a very healthy finch flock around, with 10 Goldfinches seen on one of the Niger seed feeders at the same time whilst erecting the new feeder positions. Whilst working on the feeding station today there were two flocks, an eight and, later, a flock of seven Waxwings went over heading south. All the Waxwings this weekend over Aylmer Avenue seem to have landed close to the Mere Hide: perhaps somebody is leaving apples near the hide?

The new notice board in the Aylmer Avenue Ringing Base. Hopefully we will fill this with lots of pictures of interesting birds during 2013.
Photo - Mick Briggs
One of two new feeding positions at our feeding station. The large capacity feeders can accommodate 20 Goldfinches on the Niger seed feeder and 12 Greenfinches on the Sunflower seed feeder at the same time.
Photo - Mick Briggs

December 8th: Cold start. On the Mere was a Water Rail, and on Jackson's Marsh a Goldeneye. Other good birds were a late Ring Ouzel, 30 Waxwings, a Bittern, 2 Marsh Harriers, 20 Siskins, 3 Woodcocks, a Brambling and 100 Fieldfares.
  Ringing at Aylmer Avenue from 10am onwards resulted in 22 new birds and 21 retraps. The new birds were made up of just Greenfinches and Goldfinches apart from a solitary Blackbird. Amongst the retraps was yet another British-ringed control Greenfinch, ring number TR58605. As usual, if you know the origins of this bird, let us know by emailing ringing at Aylmer Avenue, two flocks of Waxwings went south: 12 to 15 at 1.30pm and then a group of 8 at 3pm. Also at 3.20pm a Bittern took of from the Mere and moved off towards Jackson's Marsh.
  One picture that I thought I really had to show readers of the blog was this one showing the build up of thrush excrement around one of the reserve's cattle troughs during the big thrush influx of November. There must have been literally hundreds, if not thousands, of deposits around all four sides of this cattle trough, left as the birds drank from the trough. November 2012 will really last a long time in the memories of those lucky few that witnessed the thousands of Redwings and other thrushes that desended on the reserve.

One of the reserve's cattle troughs showing the build up of thrush excrement around the outside of it, deposited whilst drinking from the cattle trough, several inches thick in places, showing just how many thrushes were on site during November.
Photo 11.11.2012 - Mick Briggs

December 7th: Rain most of day, so reduced coverage. A Hen Harrier, 2 Merlins, a Woodcock, 2 Short-eared Owls, a Snow Bunting and a Goldcrest were around.

December 6th: Overnight snow. Around were 12 Waxwings, 3 Woodcocks, a Hen Harrier, 30 Snow Buntings, a Buzzard, a Siskin and 6 Mistle Thrushes. On Jackson's Marsh was a Goldeneye, and on Tennyson Sands a Pintail. Heading west were 18 Snipes.

December 5th: Cold, with wintery showers in afternoon. Flying south were 10 Waxwings. Other notables were 7 Goldeneyes, 4 Woodcocks, 4 Song Thrushes, a Water Pipit, a Brambling and 2 Buzzards. A Black Brant or intergrade was amongst the Dark-bellied Brent Geese.

December 4th: Frozen start. Waxwing totalled 30, of which 25 went south. On the Mere were 2 Bearded Tit. Other birds recorded included a Marsh Harrier, 40 Snow Bunting, 8 Siskin and a Redpoll.

December 3rd: Rainy then foggy morning. The best birds recorded were 22 Waxwings, a Water Pipit, 450 Golden Plovers and a Gadwall.
  Regular readers of this blog may remember back on the 11th November that we had a Blackbird control from Norway, the 2nd Blackbird from Norway this November.
  Well now, amazingly Sveinung Larsen from Norway has emailed me (Mick Briggs) to let me know the origin of this bird, he said that he couldn't resist leaking the details, although obviously we will still be submitting the control details through the correct channel, to the BTO.
  It was ringed at Utsira, Norway on the 24th October 2012. So that's a 746km movement SSW in just 18 days!
  What a great result and again, just goes to show the amazing power of both the internet and of the blog, and perhaps most amazingly, of the incredible migrations undertaken by birds during the spring and autumn.
  Many thanks to Sveinung Larsen for the ringing details and for getting in touch. It is great to know that fellow ringers overseas are reading our blog. Thank You!
  Also other readers of this blog may like to check out the website for Utsira Fuglestasjon, which has lots of pages in English including monthly round ups with lots of mouth watering pictures of birds that birders over here in Britain can but dream of. The Website can be found at

Stavanger Museum, Norway Ring number 7576514 on a Blackbird controlled at Aylmer Avenue on the 11.11.12.
We now know that 18 days earlier this bird was ringed at Utsira Fuglestasjon, 746km away!
Photo - Mick Briggs

December 2nd: Another frosty start, but warming up very slowly on a very still day. Waxwings totalled 65, whilst a Bittern was seen flying between the Mere and Tennyson Sands. Other good birds were 58 Snow Buntings, a Lapland Bunting, a Cetti's Warbler, a Hen Harrier, a Marsh Harrier, 2 Bramblings, 2 Merlins, a late Ring Ouzel, 50 Corn Buntings, 659 Pink-footed Geese, a Fieldfare and a Shag.
  A ringing session at Aylmer Avenue produced very similar results to yesterday, with more Greenfinches, Goldfinches and Chaffinches, although yesterday's Brambling was swapped for a Siskin, and there was also a new Song Thrush. Also, instead of a control Greenfinch as yesterday, there was a British-ringed control Chaffinch, ring number Y702209. We were unable to find out on the spot where this one was ringed so if you ringed it, let us know by commenting on this post or emailing
  As the autumn comes to a close, most of the nets have been taken down for the winter, and as the last of the nets were taken down in one of the net rides at Aylmer Avenue, Liv and Dave Vincent and Mick Briggs were treated to a flyover (at only 20 feet) by a Bittern heading from the direction of the Mere towards Tennyson Sands. Then just seconds later 10 Waxwings flew over (also at just 20 feet), heading south. It was almost as if the birds were giving us a "Top Quality Flypast" to celebrate another successfull year's ringing! For Liv Vincent, it was two life ticks in under a minute: she was a Very Happy Scribe!!!
  With unusual behaviour being observed, both from Bittern - flying about in broad daylight over the dunes, and Water Rail - visiting the Warden's garden pond, are we about to have a proper cold snap, possibly just in time for a White Christmas?
  Also of note today was this cracking example of Evernia prunastri, also know as Oak Moss. (See picture below.) This is a species of Lichen found throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere. Oak Moss grows primarily on the trunk of Oak trees but is also found on the bark of other deciduous trees and some conifers. Many of the Hawthorns at Gibraltar Point have them but this is a really good example of the thalli (branches) of Oak Moss which are flat and strap-like, resembling the form of deer antlers. They are rough when dry and rubbery when wet and they are used extensively in modern perfumery.
  In the countries of South Central Europe, they are harvested and exported to the Grasse Region of France where its fragrant compounds are extracted. They are a key component of "Fougere" and "Chypre" class perfumes.
Evernia prunastri, also known as Oak Moss, a species of lichen on a Hawthorn tree on 2nd December 2012
Photo - Mick Briggs

Evernia prunastri, also known as Oak Moss, a species of lichen on a Hawthorn tree on 2nd December 2012.
Note the flat deer antler-like thalli
Photo - Mick Briggs
The cold start to the day had obviously effected the shyness of this Water Rail which had decided that it was brave enough to visit the Warden's garden pond in front of his kitchen window on 2nd December 2012
Photo - Sam Wilson

December 1st: Rain until 10am, then feeling chilly in the 10mph north-westerly wind. Flying south were 78 Waxwings and 3 Goosanders. On the Mere was a Water Rail. Around were a Merlin, 300 Golden Plovers, a Woodcock, 10 Snipes, 40 Snow Buntings and 4 Twites.
  A ringing session at Aylmer Avenue resulted in 33 new birds. The catch was entirely made up of finches apart from a solitary Blackbird: there were 4 Chaffinches, 22 Greenfinches, 5 Goldfinches and a first-year male Brambling. Amongst the 35 retraps was a British-ringed control Greenfinch wearing ring number BR32639, a sequence that would of appeared to be a pretty old. Thanks to the miracles of modern technology, we were able to find out within 30 minutes that the bird was originally ringed in August 2011 at Frampton by Alan Ball, so it was not really so old after all.
  Two of our Niger seed feeders were replaced with 20 port versions. Hopefully this will keep our Goldfinch flock happy this winter. The finch flock visiting the feeding station still appears to contain 70+ Goldfinches and 120+ Greenfinches. At one point, a Waxwing headed south over the feeding station though it was too high to get caught in a net.
  Also today, the year's ringing total went though the 9035 barrier, making 2012 the second highest year total ever.
Happy-looking Goldfinches on one of two new Niger seed feeders on 1st December 2012.
Photo - Mick Briggs
Adult male Chaffinch ringed on 1st Decmeber 2012
Photo - Mick Briggs
One of our resident Goldfinch flock ringed on 1st December 2012
Photo - Mick Briggs

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Late November 2012

November 30th: Freezing start. On Croftmarsh was a Water Pipit, and on the Mere a Pintail. Other landed birds included 50 Blackbirds, 15 Redwings, a Common Redpoll, 8 Song Thrushes, 11 Goldcrests and a Bullfinch. Southward movers featured 2 Waxwings, 50 Siskins, 2 Song Thrushes and a Brambling.

November 29th: Flying south were a Lapland Bunting, 6 Siskins, 65 Common Scoters and 5 Red-breasted Mergansers, north 11 Snow Buntings, and east 51 Pink-footed Geese. Around were 2 Bullfinches and 2 Fieldfares. On the Mere were 2 Water Rails.

November 28th: Quite windy, with intermittent rain. On the Mere was a Water Rail. Other birds present included a Hen Harrier, a Merlin, a Woodcock and 5 Corn Buntings. Flying east were 25 Pink-footed Geese and south 2 Little Auks.

November 27th: Windy, with rain in morning. Around were 7 Redwings. At sea 7 Little Auks went north and 2 Little Gulls south, while 3 Great Northern Divers were recorded.

November 26th: Rainy morning, then mild. South went 7 Siskins. The best other birds recorded were a Water Pipit, a Bullfinch, 2 Goldcrests, a Corn Bunting, a Hen Harrier, a Peregrine, 600 Pink-footed Geese and 2 Water Rails.

November 25th: Very windy but decreasing, with rain early morning. On Tennyson Sands was a Pochard. Around were 9 Waxwings, a male Hen Harrier, a Merlin and 1200 Pink-footed Geese. 

November 24th: Near the Hump were 21 Waxwings and a Corn Bunting, on the Mere were a Water Rail and 11 Snipes, on Tennyson Sands a Pochard, and at Oval Pond a Cetti's Warbler. Around Measures were 5 Waxwings for much of the day, whilst 2 more flew south over Aylmer Avenue during the day.
  A ringing session at Aylmer Avenue was reasonably successful, with 48 new birds ringed. Only the usual finches and other species were processed, although there was a partially leucistic Lesser Redpoll, with a strange state of moult in progress as well. Annoyingly, in between closing the nets at 2pm and leaving the site at 2.15pm, around 270 finches had moved into the feeding station: apparently they know when the nets are open! This flock held around 40 Siskins, 70 Goldfinches, 30 Chaffinches and 130 Greenfinches.

Partially leucistic Lesser Redpoll ringed on the 24th November 2012. The defective pigmentation was present in just the right wing and the end of the tale feathers.
Photo - Mick Briggs
Partially leucistic Lesser Redpoll ringed on the 24th November 2012. The bird only showed signs of leucism in the right wing, the left wing appearing completely normal. Note the two secondaries in moult (although only on the right wing), with the inner secondaries showing considerable leucism along with three greater coverts.
Photo - Mick Briggs 

November 23rd: Mild and sunny. Landed birds included 10 Waxwings, a Woodcock, a Water Pipit, a Snow Bunting and 5000 Golden Plovers. Southward movers included 20 Siskins and 8 Bewick's Swans.

November 22nd: Windy. The best birds around were 9 Waxwings, 5 Snow Buntings, a Lapland Bunting, a Water Pipit and 4 Redwings. Flying south were 50 Siskins.

November 21st: Rain all day, so reduced coverage. The only notables were 3 Waxwings, 2 Water Pipits, 4 Fieldfares and 2 Bramblings.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Mid November 2012

November 20th: Windy and rainy. Around were 4 Waxwings, 2 Bearded Tits, a Corn Bunting, a male Hen Harrier, a female Marsh Harrier, a Woodcock and 5 Bramblings. On the Mere were a Water Rail and a Jack Snipe. Offshore was an Eider. South went a Water Pipit.

November 19th: Windy, with light rain in afternoon. At least 14 Waxwings were present. Other notables included 2 Bearded Tits, a Water Pipit, a Treecreeper and a Woodcock.
Ringing was not possible.

November 18th: Frosty start, then sunny. Moving south were 36 Waxwings. On Tennyson Sands were 3 Bearded Tits and a Water Rail, on the Mere a male Goosander, and on the river 5 Whooper Swans. Flying south were 2 Lapland Buntings, a Bullfinch and 5 Bramblings. Around were 11 Corn Buntings, 18 Snow Buntings, a Merlin, a Peregrine, a Kingfisher and a Treecreeper.
  Ringing at Aylmer Avenue provided the usual species in moderate numbers but nothing of real note.

Sunset on the 17th promised a cracking day on the 18th but it just didn't really seem to live up to recent days at Aylmer?
Photo - Mick Briggs

November 17th: Drizzly morning, then mild. Around were a Rough-legged Buzzard, a Hen Harrier, a Peregrine, a Merlin, 3 Woodcocks, a Purple Sandpiper, 4 Water Rails and 1300 Pink-footed Geese. At sea were a Long-tailed Duck, 2 Great Northern Divers and 20 Little Gulls. Flying south were 40 Waxwings, 41 Pink-footed Geese, 3 Crossbills, 2 Snow Buntings, a Water Pipit and 42 Siskins, and northwest a Bean Goose and 17 Pink-footed Geese. A Waxwing hung around near Aylmer Avenue for much of the day.
  A ringing session from just after the rain stopped at 11am until late afternoon at Aylmer resulted in a reasonable catch, including a Woodcock.

                                                2+CY Woodcock (George Gregory)

November 16th: Colder. Southward movers over land included 41 Waxwings, 150 Siskins, 10 Bramblings, 2 Crossbills and 2 Snow Buntings, and over sea 5 Bewick's Swans, a Great Northern Diver, 69 Eiders, 50 Common Scoters and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers. An influx of Pink-footed Geese resulted in 2600 present or moving through. High tide wader counts featured 5000 Knots, 2400 Bar-tailed Godwits, 750 Sanderlings and 1950 Grey Plovers. Around were a male Hen Harrier, a Merlin, a Woodcock and 3 more Snow Buntings.
A final morning ringing session for this year on East Dunes provided a Blackbird with an Arnhem VT Holland ring. A session at Aylmer Avenue resulted in a new Brambling and a few others of the usual species processed.

                             2+CY male Dutch-ringed control Blackbird (George Gregory)

November 15th: Persistent fog. The Cetti's Warbler was refound near Prince's Pond. On Tennyson Sands were 4 Bearded Tits. The best other birds present were 2+ Waxwings, a Long-eared Owl, a Snow Bunting, 5 Redwings, 10 Fieldfares, 6 Goldcrests, 5 Water Pipits, 500 Pink-footed Geese, 3 Water Rails, a Treecreeper, a Green Sandpiper and 5 Bramblings.
Ringing at Aylmer Avenue was again reasonably rewarding, birds of interest including a new Sparrowhawk and a retrap Coal Tit.

November 14th: Around were 18 Waxwings, a Firecrest, 4 Water Pipits, a Chiffchaff, a Yellowhammer, 2 Water Rails, 600 Pink-footed Geese, a Peregrine and a Merlin. Offshore were 130 Common Scoters. Heading south were another 3 Waxwings, 3 Whooper Swans, 3 Yellowhammers, 18 Snow Buntings and 6 Siskins.
  A ringing session at East Dunes produced only a new Siskin, but a longer one at Aylmer Avenue was again fairly productive, with the usual finches and others trapped.

November 13th: Damp start but mild. The Cetti's Warbler reappeared near Mill Hill. On Tennyson Sands were 2 Bearded Tits, briefly. On the Mere was a Water Rail. Around were 450 Pink-footed Geese, a Merlin, 2 Short-eared Owls and 2 Yellowhammers. South went a Mediterranean Gull, 7 Whooper Swans, 2 Snow Buntings, 10 Crossbills and 2 Siskins, and east an Egyptian Goose.
  Ringing at Aylmer Avenue produced a reasonable catch, including 2 Goldcrests and 2 Lesser Redpolls, but otherwise mostly the usual finches. At one point there were 15 Crossbills circling over the nets but they didn't seem to understand what the rules of the game were...

                                              Pink-footed Geese (George Gregory)

November 12th: Mild morning, persistent light rain in afternoon. Southward movers included 11 Whooper Swans, 37 Great Crested Grebes, 130 Common Scoters, 25 Stock Doves, 100 Siskins, a Yellowhammer, 7 Twites, 6 Bramblings and 2 Tree Sparrows. On the Mere was a Water Rail. Around on land were a Water Pipit, a Snow Bunting, a Bullfinch and 2 Goldcrests, and offshore 3 Slavonian Grebes and 14 Eiders.
A prolonged ringing session at Aylmer Avenue was quite productive, the most interesting new birds being 3 Yellowhammers and a Tree Sparrow.

November 11th: A frosty start with clear sky for much of the night. Sun and scattered high altitude cloud for the whole day with a slight south-westerly wind. Birds around included 2+ Waxwings, a Cetti's Warbler showing occasionally between Mill Hill and Shovelers Pool, a male Hen Harrier, a Merlin, 450 Pink-footed Geese, 2 Water Rails, a Chiffchaff, 60 Siskins, 15 Goldcrests, 5 Bramblings, a Bullfinch, 5 Crossbills and 15 Corn Buntings. Flying south over the beach was a Snow Bunting, whilst south over the dunes were 20 Lesser Redpolls, 110 Siskins and 10 Bramblings.
  Ringing at the Observatory resulted in just 2 new birds ringed, whilst at Aylmer Avenue 49 new birds were ringed, including 31 Greenfinches, several Goldfinches and Chaffinches, a single Lesser Redpoll and a single female Brambling.
  However, the real star birds were in the form of not one but two foreign controls. The first was a female Blackbird wearing a ring from Stavanger Museum, Norway (the 2nd Blackbird from Norway this November). The second control of the day was a real corker - a Goldcrest wearing a ring from Riks Museum, Sweden.
Stavanger Museum, Norway Ring number 7576514 on a 1st year female Blackbird controlled at Aylmer Avenue on the 11th November 2012. The 2nd Norwegian Blackbird of November.
Photo - Mick Briggs

Riks Museum, Sweden Ring number SX5789 on a first year male Goldcrest controlled at Aylmer Avenue on the 11th November 2012. Our first foreign control Goldcrest this year and the fourth from Sweden since 2005.
Ringers amongst you will notice that the ring is slightly longer than a British ring.
Photo - Mick Briggs
   Also of note was a superb example of Diplolepis rosae, a gall, commonly known as Bedeguar Gall or Robin's Pincushion Gall or sometimes Moss Gall. The gall develops as a chemically induced distortion of an unopened leaf axillary or terminal bud, in this case on a Dog Rose although it can also be found on Field Rose. It is caused  by the parthenogenetic hymenopteran Gall Wasp, Diplolepis rosae.
  Being so prominent and interesting in appearance, the gall has more folklore attached to it than most. The term Bedeguar comes from the French word Bedegar and is ultimately from the Persian, Bad-awar, meaning 'wind brought'. Robin in Robin's Pincushion refers to the woodland sprite of English Folklore, Robin Goodfellow.
  The gall is surrounded by a dense mass of sticky filaments giving the appearance of a ball of moss. The filaments are often brightly coloured and are usually at their best in September, starting off green and then passing through pink and crimson, eventually becoming a reddish brown. Large specimens can be up to 10cm in width, with this one not being far off that at around 7cm in diameter. The wasps' larvae will develop through the winter until finally emerging in May when the structure will appear brown, woody and dry looking.
  In this case with the gall being so high off the ground, it is unlikely that many wasps will emerge from the gall as most will perish during the freezing conditions of the winter. Generally, the lower the gall is, the higher the survival to wasp stage the larvae has.
  It was thought historically that the gall once dried and powdered could be used as a good cure for colic, as a diuretic and as a remedy for toothache. Once burnt, the ashes mixed with honey could be used as a cure for baldness, whilst if placed under a pillow, would induce sleep. A veritable Cure All it would seem!
 Bedeguar Gall or Robin's Pincushion Gall or sometimes known as Moss Gall - 11th November 2012
 Photo - Mick Briggs 

 Bedeguar Gall or Robin's Pincushion Gall or sometimes known as Moss Gall - 11th November 2012. The structure is the result of a chemically induced distortion of an unopened leaf axillary or terminal bud
Photo - Mick Briggs

 Bedeguar Gall or Robin's Pincushion Gall or sometimes known as Moss Gall - 11th November 2012.
The gall is surrounded by a dense mass of sticky filaments giving the appearance of a ball of moss.
 Photo - Mick Briggs 

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Early November 2012

November 10th: Rain continuing on from over night didn't finish until around 1pm. Then there was thick cloud until dusk. Around were 28 Waxwings, 2 Woodcocks, a Merlin, a Short-eared Owl, 470 Pink-footed Geese, 5000 Golden Plovers, 5 Water Rails, a Bullfinch, 10 Goldcrests,  2 Crossbills and 8 Corn Buntings. Going south were 13 Whooper Swans and 150+ Siskins.
  Ringing at Aylmer Avenue from 2pm, after the rain had stopped, resulted in 64 new birds and 13 retraps (all of which were Blackbirds). Only four species were involved amongst the new birds, namely 25 Goldfinches, 21 Greenfinches, 12 Blackbirds and 6 Chaffinches.

November 9th: Windy. The Cetti's Warbler was still at Mill Hill. Freshwater Marsh held 3 Water Pipits. South went 3 Swallows, a Crossbill, 2 Snow Buntings, a Velvet Scoter and a Long-tailed Duck. Around were 379 Pink-footed Geese, a Merlin, a Short-eared Owl, 4 Goldcrests and a Corn Bunting.
A ringing session in the Plantation provided a new Goldcrest, but little else.

November 8th: The Cetti's Warbler relocated to Mill Hill. On Freshwater Marsh were 2 Water Pipits. Also around were 5 Goldcrests and a Blackcap. Flying south were a Woodlark, 4 Crossbills, a Marsh Harrier and a Buzzard.
Only 9 birds were processed during a morning ringing session on East Dunes, but they included a plump young female Blackcap weighing 25.7g and a British-ringed control Goldcrest.

                             1CY male British-ringed control Goldcrest (George Gregory)

November 7th: Milder, but soggy start. A Cetti's Warbler was found along Mill Pond Road. There was a moderate southward movement, mostly of finches, including 80 Siskins and a Crossbill, and also a Lapland Bunting, while 150 Pink-footed Geese went northwest and 4 Whooper Swans went south. Several hundred Blackbirds, fewer Redwings and Fieldfares, a Jay, a Woodcock, a Chiffchaff, a male Hen Harrier, a Marsh Harrier and 3 Short-eared Owls were around.
Ringing on East Dunes in the morning was reasonably successful, new birds including 33 Long-tailed Tits and a Goldcrest.

November 6th: Frozen overnight, rain most of day. Around were 4 to 7 Water Pipits, an adult Med Gull, 2 Bearded Tits, 3 Waxwings, a Chiffchaff, a male Hen Harrier, 2 Barn Owls and 2 Woodcocks. Heading south were 24 Whooper Swans, a Bullfinch, 100 Pink-footed Geese, 100 Siskins and 50 Bramblings. Also, large numbers of Blackbirds came in off the sea and then moved west towards the West Dunes, with a conservative count of 900.

November 5th: Around were 3 Waxwings near the Yacht Club, 30 Bramblings, a Black Redstart, a Jay, a Hen Harrier and 3 Corn Buntings. Going south were 9 more Waxwings, 5 House Sparrows and 30 Lesser Redpolls.
  Few birds were trapped on East Dunes this morning, but a longer session at Aylmer Avenue yielded 100 captures, including 2 Bramblings, 3 Tree Sparrows and a female Sparrowhawk.

November 4th: Around were a Short-eared Owl, a Ring Ouzel, a Yellowhammer, a Black Redstart, 30+ Goldcrests, 20 Robins and 100+ Blackbirds. Flying south were 7 Pink-footed Geese, 25 Fieldfares, 69 Bramblings, 71 Siskins, 132 Chaffinches, 3 Bullfinches, Lesser Redpolls, 11 Crossbills, 30 Goldfinches, 20 Greenfinches, 10 Tree Sparrows and 150 Wood Pigeons, and west 150 more Pink-footed Geese.
  A morning ringing session on East Dunes produced only a modest total of new birds, but they included a Great Grey Shrike and 3 Goldcrests. Ringing at Aylmer Avenue resulted in 84 new birds ringed, including a fair number of Blackbird and Greenfinches. There were also a good number of Goldcrests, Goldfinches and a group of nine new Long-tailed Tits. Highlights of the morning though were a new Chiffchaff and, amazingly, a second British-ringed control Tree Sparrow of the autumn after a gap of 28 years and 11 months - just like buses apparently.

Adult Great Grey Shrike ringed at the Observatory 4th November 2012
Photo - George Gregory

Adult Great Grey Shrike ringed at the Observatory 4th November 2012
Photo - George Gregory
British-ringed control Tree Sparrow at Aylmer Avenue on 4th Nov 2012 - ring number D069871 the 2nd control Tree Sparrow of the Autumn, after a nearly 29 year gap. If you happen to know where this was ringed - please contact the Observatory at or leave a comment on this post.
Photo - Mick Briggs

November 3rd: A Bluethroat was discovered near the Hump. South went 30 Whooper Swans, 1156 Woodpigeons, 11 Stock Dives, a Grey Wagtail, 17 Tree Sparrows, 60 Goldfinches, 30 Siskins, 56 Redpolls, 5 Crossbills and 38 Bramblings. On the Mere were 2 Water Rails. There were at least 150 Blackbirds at Aylmer Avenue alone. Around were a Hen Harrier and 310 Pink-footed Geese. Offshore were 2 Velvet Scoters.
  Ringing at Aylmer Avenue until the rain arrived at 10.30am resulted in 95 new birds ringed. The catch was mainly Blackbirds, Greenfinches and Goldfinches, but also included 3 Tree Sparrows, 2 Lesser Redpolls and a Coal Tit amongst others. As the rain had stopped, a small roost catch was attempted at Aylmer Avenue nets were probably opened too late as only 6 birds were caught, all Blackbirds, including one retrap and five new birds.
  We have to say  "Congratulations" to Spurn Bird Observatory, who today ringed their 400,000th bird since ringed started there. This is quite an achievment, and involves clearly a vast amount of data for the B.T.O. which will hopefully benefit nature conservation throughout the UK.
  Two recoveries of birds ringed by the Observatory were recently sent through to us from the B.T.O. The first concerned a Goldfinch ringed on the 11th December 2010 and controlled (recaught) at Berriedale, Highland on the 24th May 2012, 612km north-north-west over 530 days. This bird was probably on its way south or wintering at Gibraltar Point when it was originally caught, and then probably breeding when controlled in Scotland.
  The second recovery concerns a Reed Warbler ringed by the Observatory on 31st Aug 2010 and controlled (recaught) on the 24th Aug 2012 at Figueira da Foz, Coimbra, Portugal. Thgis is a movement of 1599km south-south-west over 724 days. Obviously this bird probably hatched on the reserve when originally caught as it was aged as a 3J (juvenile) and was a lot further south when controlled two years later, still migrating southwards towards Africa. It is amazing to think that when controlled in Portugal, it was on its way to Africa for the third time.
  It is recoveries like this that make all the early mornings, opening nets in the dark, worth while.

Reed Warbler recoveries abroad are a rare event for the Observatory and the one mentioned in the text above is only the third foreign control for Gibraltar Point ever and the second to Portugal, following on from one in October 1969.
Reed Warbler Libary Photo - Mick Briggs

November 2nd: Windy. The Jack Snipe and Water Rail were still on the Mere. Around were a Water Pipit, a Jay, 250 Pink-footed Geese, a Ring Ouzel, a Corn Bunting, 3 Crossbills and 2 Chiffchaffs. Southward movers included 5 Whooper Swans, 45 Bramblings, 11 Siskins, a Swallow and 400 Woodpigeons. Offshore were 100 Common Scoters.
A ringing session using sheltered nets in the Plantation yielded a reasonable number of common new birds ringed.

November 1st: Rain overnight, then from about mid-day. Around were 5 Ring Ouzels, 6 Corn Buntings, 3 Short-eared Owls, 50 Bramblings, a Woodcock, 2 Jays and 3 Goldcrests. Over Croftmarsh were 2700 Golden Plovers, on the Mere were a Water Rail and a Jack Snipe, and on Tennyson Sands another Water Rail. Flying south were 2 Whooper Swans and 25 Lesser Redpolls, and west 180 Pink-footed Geese.
Simultaneous ringing sessions at East Dunes and Aylmer Avenue resulted in 112 captures, including a new Goldcrest, 4 new Lesser Redpolls, a new Brambling and a retrap male Sparrowhawk. Best of all though was a British Control Greenfinch at Aylmer Avenue.

                                        3CY male Sparrowhawk (George Gregory)

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Late October 2012

October 31st: Windy. On the Mere were a Jack Snipe, 2 Black-tailed Godwits and a Water Rail. Southward movers included 250 Woodpigeons, 5 Swallows, a Brambling, 9 Whooper Swans, 7 Eiders and 2 Great Crested Grebes, and northward 80 Common Scoters. Around were a Ring Ouzel and a Corn Bunting.
It was too windy for ringing.

October 30th: Foggy start. Birds around included 2 Ring Ouzels, 5 Corn Buntings, a Yellowhammer, a male Hen Harrier, a Merlin, 232 Wigeons, 379 Brent Geese, 4 Jays, 3 Bramblings and 6 Goldcrests. On the Mere was a Jack Snipe. Heading south were 25 Pink-footed Geese, 18 Whooper Swans, 7 Tree Sparrows and 7 Swallows. 560 more Pink-footed Geese headed southeast, and 90 more west. In off the sea came 70 Fieldfares.
A morning ringing session on East Dunes produced a modest total of birds processed, mostly Blackbirds but with several Goldcrests and Robins. Similarly few birds were processed at Aylmer Avenue, but amongst them was a Blackbird with a Stavanger Museum Norway ring.

October 29th: Generally mild with south-westerly wind. On the Mere were 2 Bearded Tits, a Jack Snipe and a Water Rail, on Tennyson Sands another Water Rail, and over Croftmarsh 5000 Golden Plovers. Around were a Peregrine, a Merlin, a Short-eared Owl, 5 Jays, 2 Ring Ouzels, a Bullfinch, 2 Yellowhammers and the usual thrushes. Flying south were 6 Whooper Swans, a Red-breasted Merganser, 29 Bramblings, 48 Siskins, 7 Crossbills, 6 Tree Sparrows and 16 Swallows.
  Morning ringing on East Dunes resulted in 22 new birds ringed, including 2 Yellowhammers, a Bullfinch (both new species for the year for the Observatory) and a Jay (18 and counting for the year). In addition, a British-ringed Jay was controlled. A longer session at Aylmer Avenue provided only 20 new birds, including 4 Goldcrests and 4 Lesser Redpolls.
  During the session at Aylmer Avenue, a large bird of prey was seen at a distance sitting in a net. Upon getting to the bird though, it had promptly got out and flown off. It was thought to have been a Peregrine, which would have been a first for the Observatory. A classic case of "You should have seen the one that got away!"

                                        1CY male Yellowhammer (George Gregory)

                                         2+CY female Bullfinch (George Gregory)

                                     1CY British-ringed control Jay (George Gregory)

October 28th: South-westerly wind, occasional light rain. Flying around were 2 Waxwings, 4 Crossbills, 30 Siskins and 30 Lesser Redpolls. On the Mere were 5 Bearded Tits and a Jack Snipe, and on Croftmarsh 1000 Golden Plovers. Landed birds included 5 Woodcocks, a Ring Ouzel, a Yellowhammer, a Garden Warbler, 5 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, 75 Goldcrests, 200+ Blackbirds, 40+ Redwings and 20+ Fieldfares. During sea-watching 10 Little Auks and 5 Gannets went north, and a Long-tailed Duck, 5 Goldeneyes and 13 Eiders south. Offshore were 400 Common Scoters, 179 Wigeon and a Mediterranean Gull, while in off the sea came 78 Starlings, 65 Fieldfares and 239 Lapwings.
  A fairly short morning ringing session on East Dunes yielded only a modest number of new birds, mostly the usual thrushes and Robins, but also including a Blackcap. Ringing at Aylmer Avenue from dawn until 4pm, when rain prevented any possibility of attempting a roost catch, resulted in 182 new birds ringed. These included 79 Blackbirds, 24 Greenfinches, 24 Goldfinches and 35 Goldcrests. Highlights included a Garden Warbler (the 5th latest ringed at Gibraltar Point ever, the latest being one ringed on 15th November 1982), a Chiffchaff, a Lesser Redpoll, a Siskin and 2 more Woodcocks. There was also another British control Blackbird.
  During October we have ringed over 3500 birds with a lot of help from various visiting ringers. A Big Thank You is extended to all of them from the entire Observatory Team.

Garden Warbler ringed at Aylmer Avenue 28.10.2012 - the 5th latest ringed ever.
Photo - Mick Briggs
One of two Woodcocks ringed at Aylmer Avenue 28.10.2012
Photo - Mick Briggs
One of two Woodcocks ringed at Aylmer Avenue 28.10.2012
Note that incredible eye that bulges out from the side of the head and can see through 420 degrees - allowing it to see in front and behind itself twice at the same time which is why its very hard to creep up on a Woodcock!
Photo - Mick Briggs

Adult male Siskin ringed at Aylmer Avenue 28.10.2012
Photo - Mick Briggs
October 27th: Strong north-westerly wind with occasional rain, hail and sleet. Around were 2 Waxwings, 4 Ring Ouzels, a male Hen Harrier, a Marsh Harrier, a Jay, a Black Redstart, 25 Goldcrests and a Chiffchaff. On the Mere were 5 Bearded Tits. South over land went 20 Whooper Swans and 3 Swallows, and west 120 Pink-footed Geese. In off the sea came 2 Little Auks, amongst separate Starling flocks, and a Short-eared Owl. South at sea flew 11 Great Skuas, 74 Kittiwakes and a Goldeneye, and north a Long-tailed Duck, a Little Auk, 4 Great Skuas, 4 Kittiwakes, 2 Red-throated Divers and 74 Common Scoters, while offshore were 3 more Little Auks and 30 more Common Scoters.
  A nearly all-day ringing session at Aylmer Avenue, using just a handful of the most sheltered nets, eventually resulted in exactly 100 new birds being ringed. The catch was made up mainly of Blackbirds and Greenfinches, along with smaller numbers of Goldfinches, and a few Redwings and Song Thrushes, amongst other species. Highlights were a British control Greenfinch, and a retrap Ring Ouzel - the one ringed there yesterday.
  One almost unbelievably strange sight at Aylmer this morning was two Swallows flying around at the same time as a Waxwing - there can't be many days in a year when that can happen!

A 1st year male Ring Ouzel was retrapped at Aylmer Avenue 27.10.2012
Libary Photo - Mick Briggs

October 26th: There were even fewer thrushes around, but still many hundreds. On the Mere were 2 Bearded Tits. Other landed birds included 4 Woodcocks, 25 Goldcrests, 2 Chiffchaffs, 3 Black Redstarts and 18 Ring Ouzels. Flying around were a Peregrine, a ringtail Hen Harrier and 9 Swallows. Heading south were 32 Whooper Swans, and west 38 Pink-footed Geese. At sea 32 Gannets, a Shag, 36 Little Gulls, a Pomarine Skua, 12 Great Skuas and a Rook flew north, a Mediterranean Gull flew south to roost, 50 Common Scoters and a Lesser Black-backed Gull were offshore, and a Short-eared Owl came in.
  50 new birds were ringed on East Dunes in the morning, including 2 Sparrowhawks, a Woodcock, and the usual Goldcrests, Redwings and others. A Blackbird with a Helgoland Germania ring was controlled. At Aylmer Avenue a longer session produced 168 new birds ringed, including a Ring Ouzel and 2 Woodcocks, as well as the usual finches and thrushes.

                                         1CY female Sparrowhawk (George Gregory)

October 25th: The wind was still north-easterly, but it was dry and clear. A Pallas's Leaf Warbler was found in West Dunes mid morning. Fewer thrushes were present, again mostly on West Dunes. Also around were 1500 Starlings, 2 Black Redstarts, a Chiffchaff and 6 Ring Ouzels. After dark 70 Pink-footed Geese flew south.
  A morning ringing session on East Dunes provided 76 new birds, including a Ring Ouzel, 18 Robins, 12 Goldcrests, 2 Bramblings, a Chiffchaff and 2 Blackcaps. A brief early evening/roost session at Aylmer Avenue added 50 more new birds, including 23 Blackbirds, 11 Redwings and 13 Goldfinches.

October 24th: It was foggy again with north-easterly wind, brief spells of light rain, and drizzle to end the day. Thousands of thrushes and Starlings were prominent, most eventually milling around West Dunes in the evening. Redwings were estimated at 6000, Fieldfares at 2000, and Starlings at 2000, with lower numbers of Blackbirds and Song Thrushes. Also around were 2 Woodcocks, 36 Ring Ouzels, 7 Black Redstarts, 2 Common Redstarts, 5 Bearded Tits, a Firecrest, a Lapland Bunting, 3 Siskins, a Bullfinch and 7 Swallows. An Asio Sp was briefly seen low over East Dunes at dawn. On the Mere was a Water Rail, on Tennyson Sands 4 Goldeneyes, on the Wash 500 Wigeons, and on the sea a Little Auk.
  A long ringing session on East Dunes resulted in 160 new birds ringed, including 74 Blackbirds, 13 Song Thrushes, 11 Redwings, 2 Ring Ouzels, 24 Goldcrests, 24 Robins, 2 Common Redstarts (the latest since 1981) and 3 Blackcaps.
  Later a roost catch was carried out at Aylmer Avenue with just a small number of nets, due to the possibility of being over-run by the thousands of Redwings and other thrushes that were present. The nets were open for just 15 minutes before darkness fell, and this resulted in 46 birds being caught and ringed, including 8 Robins, a Blackbird, 2 Fieldfares and 35 Redwings. This helped to push the day's ringing total to 206 new birds ringed.

October 23rd: The light north-easterly breeze with heavy fog for much of the day resulted in more or less a repeat of yesterday's mass arrival of migrants from the continent. Around were 3000+ Redwings, 1500+ Fieldfares, 1500+ Blackbirds, 15 Ring Ouzels, 50+ Song Thrushes, 400+ Robins, 50+ Goldcrests, 200+ Goldfinches, 200+ Starlings, 5 Black Redstarts, a Whinchat and a Chiffchaff. A Jack Snipe was on the small pool east of the Mere and a Tree Pipit, a Mealy Redpoll and 23 Swallows went south.
  Simultaneous prolonged ringing sessions at East Dunes and Aylmer Avenue were again very productive, with 357 new birds ringed. These included 131 Robins, 82 Redwings, 23 Song Thrushes, 88 Blackbirds, a Ring Ouzel, a late Whinchat, a Swallow (the latest since 1987), 24 Goldcrests and a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
  Although nothing to do with the Observatory, on the Golf Course just north of the reserve, ringing by Alan Ball and his team resulted in over 150 birds being ringed, including 2 Ring Ouzels and a Firecrest. One of the Ring Ouzels was retrapped down at the Observatory later on.
  Tomorrow's forecast is very similar to today's, with occasional drizzle or light rain a possibility. This could add even more numbers of thrushes and other migrants to the mix. If you haven't witnessed an East Coast fall before, you need to be down at the reserve tomorrow morning - it should be spectacular again!!!

                          2+CY female British-ringed control Ring Ouzel (George Gregory)

October 22nd: A light north-easterly breeze with heavy fog for much of the day resulted in the start of a well predicted mass arrival of migrants from the continent today. Counts included 3500 Fieldfares, 5000 Redwings, 500 Blackbirds, 100 Song Thrushes, 20 Ring Ouzels, 100 Robins, 147 Bramblings, 50 Goldcrests, 7 Black Redstarts, a Snow Bunting, 3 Woodcocks, 4 Chiffchaffs and a Willow Warbler. Heading south were 10 Swallows.
  A long ringing session on East Dunes resulted in 193 new birds ringed, including a Woodcock, a Ring Ouzel, a Fieldfare, a Black Redstart, a Willow Warbler (the latest ever by three days, the previous one being ringed on 19th October 2008), a Chiffchaff, 14 Long-tailed Tits and many thrushes. A simultaneous session at Aylmer Avenue provided over 150 new birds ringed, including 7 Fieldfares, a Mistle Thrush, 2 Bramblings and a Chiffchaff. There are not many days when all six common species of British thrush are ringed.
  With 10 to 15mph north-easterlies predicted for the rest of the week, with more fog or mist in the daytime and heavy fog and sporadic light rain showers overnight, maybe today will not be the best day of the autumn at Gibraltar Point. Tomorrow could be even better!!!

                                                     1CY Woodcock (George Gregory)

                                                 1CY male Ring Ouzel (George Gregory)

                                         1CY Black Redstart (George Gregory)

                                           2+CY female Fieldfare (George Gregory)

October 21st: On Fenland Lagoon were 2 Greenshanks, on the Mere 2 Water Rails, and on Croftmarsh 1500 Golden Plovers. Around were another Water Rail, a Hawfinch, 14 Jays and a Spotted Redshank. Flying south over land were 200 Pink-footed Geese, 10 Crossbills, 15 Bramblings, 50 Goldfinches, 100 Greenfinches, 100 Skylarks, 120 Lesser Redpolls, 20 Siskins, 80 Tree Sparrows, 800 Wood Pigeons, 20 Rooks, 3 Jays and the usual other species. At sea 2 Great Skuas, an Arctic Skua, 187 Pink-footed Geese and 53 Common Scoters flew south, and 221 Little Gulls, 43 Gannets and 13 Kittiwakes north, while a Black-throated Diver, 23 Red-throated Divers, a Common Tern and 18 Sandwich Terns were offshore.
  A morning ringing session on East Dunes produced few birds, but they included 3 more Jays (a remarkable 17 have now been ringed here this year compared to the previous highest year total of 6 in 1984), a Redwing, a Blackcap and a few Goldcrests. An all-day session at Aylmer Avenue was much more productive with 123 new birds ringed, including 2 Bramblings, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 11 Tree Sparrows, a Lesser Redpoll and lots of Goldfinches, Greenfinches and Goldcrests. The Kestrel from last Sunday was retrapped. There were also four more British controls including 2 Goldfinches, a Greenfinch and a Tree Sparrow - the first British control Tree Sparrow at Gibraltar Point since 11th December 1983, nearly 29 years ago.
  Easterlies sprang up during the day, and with rain forecast tonight, there should be plenty to blog about tomorrow. Fieldfares started arriving late afternoon with several small groups noted, including a group of 10 late on.
Early morning fog rolled in an hour after first light and put a stop to any bird movements, with very little visible migration until it lifted three hours later - 21st October 2012.
Photo - Mick Briggs.
A fine adult male Brambling, the first bird out of the nets on 21st October 2012.
Photo - Mick Briggs
British control Tree Sparrow 21st October 2012,  the first one for nearly 29 years at Gibraltar Point.
Photo - Mick Briggs

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Mid October 2012

October 20th: Birds around included a Short-eared Owl, a Spotted Redshank, a Black Redstart and 2 Ring Ouzels. The most notable birds flying south were 7 Jays and 14 Bramblings, north 13 more Jays, and northwest 290 Pink-footed Geese.
Few birds were ringed on East Dunes this morning, but they included 2 more Jays (14 have been ringed here so far this year), a Redwing and several Goldcrests. A prolonged session at Aylmer Avenue eventually resulted in 251 new birds being ringed. Besides 97 Goldfinches and 91 Greenfinches, there were also a Brambling, a Coal Tit (with a further four retrap Coal Tits and a retrap Treecreeper), four Blackcaps, 27 Goldcrests, 10 Blackbirds, 2 Redwings and 2 Song Thrushes. There were also, amazingly, four British controls - 2 Greenfinches, a Goldfinch and a Great Tit.

Red Sky at Night - Shepherds Delight? or is it Ringers Delight? 20th October 2012.
With easterlies forecast from tomorrow onwards for a week or more with heavy cloud and occasional rain, it looks like the Autumn Thrush Rush could be about to begin?

October 19th: The Mere held a Water Rail and a Black-tailed Godwit, and Tennyson Sands 18 Avocets. Around were 5 Jays, a Spotted Redshank, a Greenshank, a Chiffchaff, a Ring Ouzel, 7 Redwings, a Black Redstart, 43 Tree Sparrows and 5 Bramblings. Southward movers included 9 Jays, 751 Goldfinches, 176 Greenfinches, 78 Siskins, 142 Redpolls, 72 Reed Buntings, 7 Bramblings, a Crossbill, 4 Tree Sparrows and a Swallow. In off the sea came a Short-eared Owl, while 170 Pink-footed Geese went west and 60 more southeast.
Ringing on East Dunes in the morning produced a few Goldcrests, Reed Buntings and the usual other species.

October 18th: On Tennyson Sands were 20 Avocets, and on the Mere a Black-tailed Godwit and a Water Rail. Around were a Greenshank, a Merlin, 24 Jays, a Firecrest, 14 Goldcrests, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Blackcap, a Ring Ouzel, 6 Redwings and a Mediterranean Gull. Flying south were a Little Gull, 2 Hawfinches, 51 Swallows, 24 House Martins, 156 Siskins, 98 Redpolls, 33 Tree Sparrows, 14 Crossbills, a Brambling, 86 Rock Pipits, 2 Grey Wagtails, 144 Skylarks and 5 Rooks, and north a Goosander. In off the sea came a Short-eared Owl, 2 Whooper Swans and 30 Pink-footed Geese.
Few birds were ringed in a morning session on East Dunes, but they included a Firecrest and the twelfth Jay ringed here this year.

1st Year Male Firecrest 18th October 2012
Photo - George Gregory
October 17th: Rainy and windy, with minor flooding. A Richard's Pipit flew south at 1100hrs. The Mere held a Black-tailed Godwit, Croftmarsh 1000 Golden Plovers, and Tennyson Sands 20 Avocets, a Spotted Redshank and a Pintail. Around were 2 Greenshanks, 5 Jays, a Coal Tit, a Ring Ouzel, 7 Redwings, 16 Goldcrests and 500 Woodpigeons. South went 2 Swallows and 2 Crossbills.
No ringing was attempted.

October 16th: Very windy. On Tennyson Sands were 19 Avocets and a Pintail, and on the Mere a Black-tailed Godwit. Around were a Merlin, 21 Little Egrets, 19 Redpolls, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and 2 Goldcrests. An adult male Hen Harrier and 3 Siskins flew south. Offshore were 500 Common Scoters, a Velvet Scoter, 8 Sandwich Terns, 50 Gannets, 4000 Oystercatchers and 30000 Knots.
It was too windy for ringing.

October 15th: Tennyson Sands held 23 Avocets, a Pintail and a Water Rail, and Croftmarsh 600 Golden Plovers. Around were 2 Ring Ouzels, 2 Merlins and a Treecreeper, as well as fewer Goldcrests and Redwings than yesterday. Offshore was a Great Skua. Heading south were a Goosander, a Grey Wagtail, 2 Swallows, 6 Bramblings and 7 Crossbills, and northwest 18 Pink-footed Geese.
A modest number of new birds were ringed on East Dunes in the morning, but they included a few more Redwings and Goldcrests.

October 14th: A Yellow-browed Warbler and 2 Crossbills were in the Plantation. On Tennyson Sands were 24 Avocets and a Pink-footed Goose, and on the Mere a Water Rail. Around were a Brambling, 8 Jays, a Marsh Harrier, a Merlin, a Ring Ouzel, 4 Chiffchaffs and 6 Blackcaps. Flying south were 110 Pink-footed Geese, 50+ Lesser Redpolls, 80+ Goldfinches, 100+ Greenfinches, 10 Siskins, 20 Linnets, 20 Bramblings, 100+ Tree Sparrows, 10+ Crossbills, and a Rock Pipit, whilst 80 Blackbirds, 150 Redwings and a single Fieldfare moved in and off west.
  Ringing sessions at East Dunes and Aylmer Avenue were again very productive, the most notable new birds being 2 more Jays (for a record year total of 11), a Sparrowhawk, a Kestrel, 2 Coal Tits, and numerous Tree Sparrows, Redwings, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds.

A cold start to Sunday 14.10.2012 - the first proper ground frost of the autumn. Birds were still on the move though, even before the sun came up, as you can see in this photo - see middle left.
Photo - Mick Briggs
One of four Tree Sparrows ringed at Aylmer Avenue (more were ringed at East Dunes) 14.10.2012
Photo - Mick Briggs

Partially leucistic 2+CY Redwing ringed at East Dunes 14.10.2012
Photo - George Gregory

1st year Jay (number 10 for the year) ringed at Aylmer Avenue 14.10.2012
Photo - Mick Briggs
Close up of 1st year Jay (number 10 for the year) ringed at Aylmer Avenue 14.10.2012
Photo - Mick Briggs

Male Kestrel ringed at Aylmer Avenue 14.10.2012
Photo - Mick Briggs

Male Kestrel wing, showing at least two generations of primaries and secondaries, ringed at Aylmer Avenue 14.10.2012
Photo - Mick Briggs

October 13th: On the Mere were 3 Bearded Tits, and on Jackson's Marsh 12 Avocets and a Jack Snipe. A Yellow-browed Warbler was in East Dunes. Also around were a Short-eared Owl, 300+ Redwings, 100+ Blackbirds, 500+ Goldfinches, a Ring Ouzel, a Redstart, several Chiffchaffs, 100+ Goldcrests and 3 Goldeneyes. South over land went 29 Swallows, 141 Siskins, 382 Lesser Redpolls, 10 Bramblings, 38 Reed Buntings, 110 Tree Sparrows, 40+ Crossbills, a Snow Bunting, a Lapland Bunting, a Twite, a Grey Wagtail, 2 Whooper Swans, 11 Jays, 4 Great Spotted Woodpeckers and 11 Rooks. At sea a Little Auk flew south, and offshore were a Great Skua and an Arctic Skua.
  Simultaneous ringing sessions at East Dunes and Aylmer Avenue were very productive. 234 New birds were eventually ringed at Aylmer Avenue, with the session being finished just before the evening roost due to rain, and 72 new birds at East Dunes. The best new birds were 2 Jays, 4 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Coal Tit, 4 Bramblings and 30+ Lesser Redpoll, while others included many Goldcrests, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Redwings, Song Thrushes and Blackbirds, and a Chiffchaff. The Observatory has now ringed a new record total of Jays for the year - 9 so far in 2012, beating the 1986 record of 6. There were also a British control Goldfinch at Aylmer Avenue, and a British control Lesser Redpoll at East Dunes.

Coal Tit ringed at Aylmer Avenue 13.10.2012
Photo - Mick Briggs

Adult male Lesser Redpoll ringed at Aylmer Avenue 13.10.2012
Photo - Mick Briggs

One of four Bramblings ringed at Aylmer Avenue 13.10.2012
Photo - Mick Briggs

October 12th: Soggy and windy. The Mere held 2 Bearded Tits and a Black-tailed Godwit, Jackson's Marsh a Greenshank, and Tennyson Sands 21 Avocets. Around were a Yellow-browed Warbler, 7 Jays, 150 Redwings, 3 Siskins, a Snow Bunting, a Marsh Harrier and a Short-eared Owl. Flying south were a Swallow, 15 Siskins, 26 Goldfinches, 63 Redwings, 2 Fieldfares, a Brambling, 2 Song Thrushes, 3 Mistle Thrushes, 16 Rock Pipits and 4 Lesser Redpolls. At sea were 200 Little Gulls.
A brief morning ringing session on East Dunes produced a Redwing, a few other thrushes, 2 Goldfinches and a Blackcap.

October 11th: On the Mere were 2 Bearded Tits, and on Tennyson Sands 21 Avocets. A total of 49 Jays were present on the reserve at some time, although many appeared to move off inland later. Around were 11 Mistle Thrushes, 2 Redwings and a Peregrine. South went 21 Siskins and the usual other species. At sea were 6 Great Skuas, 4 Arctic Skuas, a Manx Shearwater and 3 Little Gulls.
Few birds were caught on a morning ringing session on East Dunes, but they included 3 more Jays and a few Goldcrests and thrushes.

                                                         1CY Jay (George Gregory)