Wednesday, 23 March 2011

23rd March 2011 - Home, Away, Home and on the Hill

Just before flying off to Bulgaria for a week skiing on 12th, I managed to squeeze in a couple of hours ringing in the garden which resulted in 24 new birds of six species, highlighted by my first two Song Thrush of the year and five House Sparrow (below).  These were also new for the year and the first time I have caught House Sparrows here outside of the autumn and start of winter.
Bulgaria was a blast and incredibly cheap and the gondolas up into the mountains was a great place to spot birds with regular sightings of Black Woodpecker, Nutcracker and Crested Tit.  Whilst around the village Serin, Cirl Bunting, Crossbill, Woodlark and Ring Ouzel were everywhere, with a group of c100 of the latter on one day including a male with an almost completely white head!  Not a ringing or biding trip though!!
On return, had a short ringing session at home on each morning on 20th, 21st and 22nd producing 21 new birds of eight species with highlights being another Song Thrush and a female Brambling (below).  This is my second Brambling caught here with the previous being another female in early 2009!
This morning I ventured back onto the heath at Leith Hill and in three hours of sunshine managed to catch 27 new birds of which 13 were Siskin and 11 were Lesser Redpoll (below).  The Siskin were showing a vast array in weights from a normal 11.8g to the huge 16.3g of a bird that was very heavily laden with fat stores indicating a migrant.  An interesting catch was a retrap Siskin from twelve days ago which had jumped from 11.9g to 13.2g with the addition of fat stores obviously planning on migration soon.  Also caught was not one but three control Lesser Redpoll!  The first, L758184, was ringed by Wes Attridge 5km away in Capel just nine days ago on 4th March, and details of the other two X281474 and L794934 will be posted as soon as information comes through.  There was at least one unringed Common Redpoll present, as well as a Chiffchaff, two Brambling and a singing Woodlark.
Birds Ringed:
Dunnock - 1
Chaffinch - 5
Blue Tit - 19
Coal Tit - 1
Goldfinch - 6
Great Tit - 2
Brambling - 1
Lesser Redpoll - 11
Siskin - 13
Long-tailed Tit - 1
House Sparrow - 5
Greenfinch - 5
Song Thrush - 3


  1. Hi Sam

    I'm interested to know where the best spots are on Leith Hill to see Brambling, Marsh Tit and perhaps Common Redpoll. Can you help?



  2. Hi Neil - There are currently lots of Redpoll and Siskin on Duke's Warren which is the heathland area on the nortrh facing slope near to the cricket pitch. There have been a number of Common Redpoll amongst them and whilst up there this morning, two pairs of Woodlark were displaying, a decent group of Crossbill. There was also a stunning male Brambling mixed in with a few Chaffinch. As far as Marsh Tit, they are better seen on the southern slopes towards Ockley where there is a good array of foot and permission paths that run through associated woodland.

    Good luck, let me know what you see. Sam