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

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