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.

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 

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)