Sunday, 21 March 2010

Blackwing Passage!

Reports have started coming in of the years first spring/summer migrants to enter Britain such as alpine swifts (having gone too far!) and sand martins (one having been seen at Priory Country Park this week), but we haven't forgotten about our winter migrants that are on passage back to their summer breeding grounds much further north or on the continent.

Today we put up several nets in the sheep pen at Priory CP hoping for blackbirds and we weren't disappointed.

The tally was - 16 new (3 retraps):

Long Tailed Tit - 3 (0)
Blue Tit - 0 (1)
Great Tit - 1 (1)
Blackbird - 6 (1)
Redwing - 5 (0)

We think 4 of the blackbirds were probably continental types (usually bigger/heavier than the British version and harder to age & sex!).

Above: One of 7 blackbirds we caught today (a male born last year).

The surprise were 5 redwing. There was no sign that any were around, we were walking around checking the nets and must have made them change location because a net that was empty 2 minutes before suddenly had 3 redwing!

As Errol wasn't looking, I put them safely into bags and pretended they were Song Thrushes. "Funny looking Song Thrush" said Errol when he finally got to clap an eye on one!

Above: Ageing Redwing in the hand is partly done by the white/cream/buff markings on the tips of the tertial feathers and Greater Coverts. The above bird (an adult), has little or none of these markings whereas the bird below (a juvenile) has the classic markings for its age. Though not shown here, sometimes there are 'inbetweeners' sent to confuse and test us!

Below: I can't think of a valid reason why I added this photo except that it was an excuse to show you a frontal picture of a Redwing rather than its back!

PS. If you look up into the sky occasionally, you may see flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares pass overhead on their way home (or sand martins coming here to breed)!

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