Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Late August 2013

August 31st: Moderate westerly/north-westerly wind, sunny morning, clouded over later.
  The Short-toed Lark was still at North End. Around were a Wryneck, a Marsh Harrier, a Peregrine, a Hobby, 150 Yellow Wagtails, 60 Alba Wagtails and 12 Whinchats. Offshore or over the shore were 2 Arctic Skuas, a Guillemot, 2 Whimbrels and a Greenshank. On the Mere were 8 Spotted Redshanks and a Garganey.
  On the second day of the Ringing Opportunity Weekend, attended by 7 participants, together with various trainers and helpers, prolonged ringing sessions were held in East Dunes and at Aylmer Avenue. More than 230 birds were processed, which was very good, considering the mostly sunny conditions.
  New birds in East Dunes were 7 Willow Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Reed Warblers, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 34 Swallows, 2 Whitethroats, a Robin, 3 Blue Tits, 43 House Martins and a Woodpigeon, and the retraps were a Goldfinch, a Blue Tit, a Redstart and a Whitethroat.
  At Aylmer Avenue the new birds were 2 Wrens, a Willow Warbler, 4 Blackcaps, 4 Robins, 6 Dunnock, 2 Blue Tits, a Great Tit, a Lesser Whitethroat and 29 Greenfinches. There were 84 retraps, mostly finches and tits.

August 30th: Increasing south-west wind. Mostly cloudy.
  The Short-toed Lark was re-found at North End. Offshore were 15 Arctic Skuas, a Pomarine Skua, a Little Tern, 500 Sandwich Terns, 21 Curlew Sandpipers, 1000 Ringed Plovers and 3000 Dunlins.   Around, including birds trapped, were 2 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Redstarts, a Spotted Flycatcher, a White wagtail.2 Common Buzzards, a Hobby and a Peregrine. Heading south were 181 Yellow Wagtails, 200 Linnets, 2549 Swallows, 109 Sand Martins, 230 House Martins, a Hobby, a Common Buzzard, 4 Great Skuas and 47 Arctic Skuas. To roost went 40 more Yellow Wagtails. On the water bodies notable birds were 5 Curlew Sandpipers, 2 Little Stints and a Garganey.
  A prolonged ringing session in East Dunes on the first day of the Ringing Opportunity Weekend was productive. The new birds were 4 Willow Warblers, a Wren, 73 Swallows, 9 Yellow Wagtails, a House Martin, a Pied Flycatcher, a Redstart, a Whitethroat, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Goldfinch, a Sedge Warbler and a Sand Martin. The retraps were a Great Tit, 3 Whitethroats and 3 Dunnock. There was also a British-ringed control Swallow.

August 29th: Moderate south-west wind, cloudy then clearing. 
  Around were 2 Redstarts, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Wheatear, a Tree Pipit, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Peregrine, 2 Hobby's and 2 Turtle Doves. A Marsh Harrier went south. On the Mere was a Garganey. The best waders on the water bodies were 7 Spotted Redshanks, 5 Curlew Sandpipers, a Little Stint and a Little Ringed Plover.
  A morning ringing session on East Dunes was quite good. The new birds were 22 Willow Warblers, a Chiffchaff, a Wren, 2 Reed Warblers, 3 Linnets, a Goldfinch, 33 Swallows, 5 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Blackcaps, 5 Blue Tits, 4 Whitethroats, 4 Dunnock, a Garden Warbler and a Reed Bunting, and the retraps a Great Tit, a Garden Warbler and a Blue Tit.

Peregrine, 29th August 2013.
Photo - Philip Millns
Peregrine hunting, 29th August 2013.
Photo - Philip Millns
August 28th: Light wind, wet foggy start, which was slow to clear.
 The Short-toed Lark was re-found at Greenshanks Creek in the afternoon. Other birds around, including those trapped, included 12 Redstarts, 4 Pied Flycatchers, 5 Whinchats and 2 Garden Warblers. On Jackson's Marsh was a first-winter Mediterranean Gull. Waders in various places were represented by 33 Curlew Sandpipers, 3 Spotted Redshanks and 8 Greenshanks. Flying south were 4 Common Buzzards, 147 Arctic Skuas, a Pomarine Skua, a Great Skua, 3 Gannets and 2 Little Terns, and north 6 Common Scoters.
 The wet fog greatly reduced the catch on a morning ringing session in East Dunes. The birds processed were 4 Willow Warblers, 2 Garden Warblers, 3 Swallows, a Blackcap, a Yellow Wagtail, 4 Whitethroats, 2 Redstarts, 2 Wrens and 5 Dunnock.

Adult Whitethroat showing a retained old secondary, retrapped on 28th August 2013.
Photo - George Gregory
Almost all Swallows trapped in autumn here are juvenile/first-year birds. This adult had a tail difference of 54mm and was therefore un-sexable.
Photo - George Gregory
August 27th: Continuing north-easterly wind, misty start then clearing.
 Migrants and dispersers around included 20 Yellow Wagtails, 20 Pied Wagtails, a Green Woodpecker, 2 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, a Wheatear, a Redstart and 2 Whinchats. The best waders on Tennyson Sands were 4 Curlew Sandpipers and a Little Stint. On the Mere were a Greenshank, 6 Common Sandpipers, 2 Green Sandpipers, a Garganey, a Whimbrel, 9 Shovelers and 5 Black-tailed Godwits.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes was reasonable. The new birds were 2 Willow Warblers, a Redstart, a Sedge Warbler, 18 Swallows, 13 Sand Martins, 2 House Martins, a Linnet and a Sparrowhawk, and the retraps were 2 Wrens, 2 Whitethroats, a Woodpigeon and a Greenfinch.

August 26th: Mostly sunny from the start of the day with a light north-easterly breeze, remaining dry throughout the day.
  The Short-toed Lark was again near Greenshanks Creek. Other birds around, including those trapped, were a Wryneck, a Tree Pipit, 8 Willow Warblers, 6 Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler, 2 Spotted Flycatchers, 8 Pied Flycatchers, 3 Redstarts, 4 Wheatears10 Whinchats, a Green Woodpecker, a Curlew Sandpiper, a Green Sandpiper, a Common Sandpiper, a Marsh Harrier, 22 Whimbrel, a Greenshank, a Ruff, 5 Wigeon and 4 Kestrels. Waders on or over the water bodies included 9 Curlew Sandpipers and 3 Spotted Redshanks.

Short-toed Lark near Greenshanks Creek photographed on 25th August 2013.
Photo - James Siddle (original finder of the bird)
  The sunny conditions reduced the catch on a morning ringing session in East Dunes to just 16 new birds and 3 retraps. The news were a Wren, a Willow Warbler, a Robin, 2 Redstarts, a Spotted Flycatcher, a Reed Bunting and 9 Swallows, and the retraps were 3 Whitethroats.
  At Aylmer Avenue, despite best efforts, only 17 new birds and 23 retraps were processed. The new birds were a Wren, 2 Dunnock, 2 Whitethroats, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Blue Tit, a Chaffinch, 5 Greenfinches and 1 Goldfinch. The retraps were mainly made up of finches and tits visiting the feeding station.
  This had to be one of the most disappointing August days ever!, with hardly any warblers present on the reserve or indeed hardly any small migrants showing up at all across all of the ringing area at Aylmer Avenue. The only bonus besides the 2 Pied Flycatchers ringed were 3 more un-ringed Pied Flycatchers that were feeding in pines around the ringing shed giving great views for most of the morning. The lack of migrants though, especially warblers (only 1 Willow Warbler caught today) was very puzzling, though. Have they all gone south already?
First-year Whitethroat ringed on 26th August 2013.
One of very few warblers present on the reserve today -  very puzzling
Photo - Mick Briggs
One of two first-year Pied Flycatchers ringed on 26th August 2013.
Photo - Mick Briggs
 August 25th: A light north-easterly breeze throughout the day, with thick cloud for most of the morning, giving way to sunny outbreaks through high level cirrus cloud later in the afternoon. Remaining dry throughout.
  There was a general clear out during the evening, which was somewhat unexpected considering the overnight rain. However, some of the more scarce migrants had made it onto the coast or possibly had come south down the coast from yesterday's landing sites. There was though, a worryingly considerable absence of any decent numbers of common migrants.
  A Short-toed Lark was found and photographed north of Greenshanks Creek early morning by James Siddle, and later on was seen by a host of other observers, showing very well from time to time. Offshore was a juvenile Long-tailed Skua.
  Birds around including those trapped, were 4 Wrynecks, (3 ringed plus one in the West Dunes near the Mere Hide mid morning, again found by James Siddle), 5 Redstart, 7 Whinchat, 7 Wheatear, 4 Tree Pipit, 3 Wood Sandpiper, 12 Common Sandpiper, a Marsh Harrier, 8 Kestrel (including 6 together in one group of pines at Aylmer Avenue at one point) and 3 Sparrowhawk.  Heading south were a Swift and 12 Yellow Wagtail. On Tennyson Sands the best birds were a Spoonbill, 2 Curlew Sandpipers and 5 Sandwich Terns.
Short-toed Lark near Greenshanks Creek on 25th August 2013.
Photo - Richard Doan
  A morning ringing session in East Dunes provided 39 new birds, which were 8 Willow Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Linnet, a Whinchat, 3 Yellow Wagtails, 21 Swallows, 2 Whitethroats, a Redstart and a Wryneck (the first of the year) The 6 retraps were 3 Whitethroats, a Dunnock, a Blue Tit and a Blackcap.
  Meanwhile a longer session at Aylmer Avenue, which included the last C.E.S. session of the year, resulted in 37 new birds and 42 retraps. The C.E.S. was dismal with just a Blackbird, a Wren and 2 Willow Warblers the new birds, whilst other nets at Aylmer Avenue were more productive. There were, amazingly, 2 Wrynecks caught and ringed, 2 Dunnocks, a Robin, 3 Reed Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler, a Blackcap, 12 Willow Warblers, 3 Chaffinches, 3 Greenfinches and 3 Goldfinches.
  Both the Wrynecks were caught in the same net, nearly in the same spot, but just five hours apart. Both did their best to effect an escape from the hand by doing a ridiculous combination of "head spins" and "stretches" to put any potential predator off eating the bird for dinner.
  After checking the records I found that ridiculously, 3 Wrynecks ringed in one day is not a first for the Observatory. The last time it was done was the 31st August 1976 and the seventies were the really big years for Wrynecks at the Observatory, with the peak year being 1976, when 10 were ringed.
3rd Wryneck of the year ringed on 25th August 2013.
Photo - Mick Briggs
3rd Wryneck of the year ringed on 25th August 2013.
Photo - Mick Briggs
2nd Wryneck of the year ringed on 25th August 2013.
Photo - Mick Briggs
2nd Wryneck of the year ringed on 25th August 2013.
Photo - Mick Briggs
1st Wryneck of the year ringed at the Observatory on 25th August 2013.
Photo - George Gregory
August 24th: Rain overnight and through the morning until 11.30am. Then full cloud cover all day with light north-easterly breeze. Light rain fell again from 6pm.
  Migrants around, including birds trapped, were a Wryneck (West Dunes), 6 Pied Flycatchers, 7 Spotted Flycatchers, a Redstart, 68 Willow Warblers, 4 Wheatears, 2 Whinchats, 20 Lesser Whitethroats, 4 Garden Warblers, 3 Sparrowhawks, 4 Kestrels and a Green Woodpecker. On Jackson's Marsh were a Spoonbill, 3 Spotted Redshanks, 5 Little Egrets and a Common Sandpiper, on Tennyson Sands 8 Curlew Sandpipers, a Little Stint, 80 Dunlins, 2 Ruffs, 38 Ringed Plovers, 32 Little Egrets and 2 Common Sandpipers, and on Fenland Lagoon 11 Green Sandpipers. Other waders around were 37 Ruffs (including 36 south), 2 Spotted Redshanks, 5 Little Ringed Plovers, 13 Curlew Sandpipers and 3 Common Sandpipers. A Black Tern was on the beach.
  A much delayed ringing session in East Dunes yielded 22 new birds, namely 12 Willow Warblers, 2 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Whitethroats, a Blackcap, a Great Tit, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Redstart, a Yellow Wagtail and a Reed Warbler. The 17 retraps were a Dunnock, a Blackcap, 2 Whitethroats, 2 Long-tailed Tits, 5 Blue Tits, 5 Great Tits and a Lesser Whitethroat.
  Meanwhile nets were also eventually opened up over at Aylmer Avenue at 11.30am after the rain stopped. The session finished as the rain tried to start again at 6.30pm. The result was another 53 new birds ringed and 42 retraps. The new birds were a Sparrowhawk, a Kestrel, 2 Wrens, a Dunnock, 5 Lesser Whitethroats, 3 Whitethroats, 3 Garden Warblers, 2 Blackcaps, 12 Willow Warblers, a Spotted Flycatcher, 4 Blue Tits, 2 Chaffinches, 8 Greenfinches and 8 Goldfinches. The retraps included a Coal Tit, just a single Willow Warbler and the usual finches and tits.
  The Kestrel was the 6th for 2013, equalling the best year ever for the Observatory, which was 6 ringed in 1995.

First-year Spotted Flycatcher ringed on 24th August 2013.
Photo - Mick Briggs
The record-equalling 6th Kestrel ringed of 2013 on 24th August.
Photo - Mick Briggs
First-year Kestrel ringed on 24th August 2013.
Photo - Mick Briggs
First-yearear male Sparrowhawk ringed on 24th August 2013.
Photo - Mick Briggs
August 23rd: Overnight rain, southeasterly/easterly wind. Around were a Green Woodpecker, a Kingfisher, Hobby, a Marsh Harrier, a Mediterranean Gull, a Wheatear and 6 Whinchats. Flying south were 5 Wigeons, and east a Spoonbill. Offshore were 4 Yellow-legged Gulls. High tide wader counts included 60000 Knots, 4300 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2000 Oystercatchers, 3000 Sanderlings, 5000 Dunlins, 850 Ringed Plovers and 19 Whimbrels. On the water bodies were 6 Spotted Redshanks, a Little Stint, a Ruff, 7 Green Sandpipers, 160 Black-tailed Godwits, 23 Greenshanks and 3 Little Ringed Plovers. On the Mere 2 Garganeys remained, while 2 Water Rails were new.
 A morning ringing session on East Dunes was disappointing, considering the wind direction. New birds were 5 Willow Warblers, 10 Swallows, a Whinchat, a Sand Martin, 4 Whitethroats, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler and a Song Thrush. The retraps were 4 Willow Warblers, 2 Blackcaps, a Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Dunnocks and a Wren.

August 22nd: Much the same weather as yesterday in the morning, but the wind shifted towards south-easterly in the afternoon. Around were 12 Whinchats, a Stonechat, 2 Wheatears, a Redstart, a Tree Pipit, 6 Whimbrels, 40000 Knots, a Common Sandpiper, 30 Yellow Wagtails, a Green Woodpecker and 2 Spotted Redshanks. Flying offshore was a Spoonbill. On Jackson's Marsh were a Little Stint, a Ruff, 4 Green Sandpipers and 2 Spotted Redshanks, and on the Mere 4 Garganeys, 5 Green Sandpipers and a Wood Sandpiper. Black-tailed Godwits totalled 139 and Greenshanks 17.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes produced 88 new birds, namely 17 Willow Warblers, 5 Whitethroats, a Blackcap, a Reed Warbler, a Dunnock, a Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 44 Swallows, 10 Yellow Wagtails, 3 Sand Martins, a House Martin, a Woodpigeon and a Sparrowhawk. The 11 retraps were a Wren, a Blue Tit, 2 Whitethroats, 2 Willow Warblers, a Kestrel, 3 Dunnocks and a Chaffinch.

August 21st: Mostly cloudy with southwesterly wind, again.
 Flying south were 35 Yellow Wagtails, 250 Swallows and 20 Sand Martins. Around, additional to birds trapped, were 2 Wheatears, 14 Whinchats, a Redstart, 2 Pied Flycatchers, 30 Yellow Wagtails and 30 Willow Warblers. Offshore or flying about were 58000 Knots, 5000 Dunlins, a Little Gull, a male Scaup, 2 Peregrines, a Common Buzzard, a Marsh Harrier, a Curlew Sandpiper and a Spotted Redshank. On Tennyson Sands were 2 Spoonbills (an adult and an immature), 3 Green Sandpipers, 17 Black-tailed Godwits, 13 Greenshanks and 200 Lapwings, on Jackson's Marsh 5 Greenshanks and 100 Black-tailed Godwits, and on the Mere 4 Garganeys and 5 Green Sandpipers.
 A morning ringing session in East Dunes was again interesting. The new birds were 28 Willow Warblers, a Dunnock, a Robin, a Pied Flycatcher (first of autumn), 5 Whitethroats, 2 Wheatears (first of year), 29 Swallows, a Garden Warbler, 3 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Sand Martins, a Whinchat and a Sparrowhawk. Also there was a retrap Dunnock, and a British-ringed control Swallow.
  An afternoon ringing session at Aylmer Avenue by David Vincent was reasonably productive, for an afternoon ringing session, resulting in 35 new birds and 36 retraps. The new birds were 14 Willow Warblers, 10 Greenfinches, 4 Chaffinches, 2 Goldfinches and singles of Wren, Long-tailed Tit, Swallow, Blue Tit, and Whitethroat. The retraps were a mix of finches, tits and warblers.

Pied Flycatcher, ringed 21st August 2013.
Photo - George Gregory
Wheatear, ringed 21st August 2013.
Photo - George Gregory

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