Sunday, 18 March 2012

Spawk, first breeding and a large batch of Recoveries

The last three weeks on Leith Hill has seen the end of winter and the start of spring with breeding activity seen from at least 40 species. The highlights being the Woodlarks back displaying, Crossbills with young and the Woodcocks have been displaying since 27th February which is amazingly early! Ringing here has seen a steady decrease in new Siskin and Redpoll down to just 13 on 6th March, but on 14th March this reversed with 76 new birds caught - spring pasage? The Redpoll species have also reversed back to larger numbers of Lesser than Common. Redpoll controls keep coming in with seven in this period including six on 14th March - Y437322, Y435633, Y244305, Y708145, Y703518, Y703704 and Y043936! Siskins have also increased in number with a number of females showing the early stages of brood patches, so an early breeding season for them certainly seems on the cards. The only other species caught of note were five Redwing (not caught any here since January and a stunning male Sparrowhawk (below), whilst notable sightings have included a Red Kite, a Goshawk and the first Chiffchaff on 16th.

I have mentioned before about the huge variation in the 'poll' colour on the Redpolls from a dark purple to fiery yellow or even not coloured at all, but an adult male Common Redpoll caught on 14th March was very unusual. The poll was orange in colour, but this also was the case for all the other areas that a male displays the normal red in the cheeks, breast, throat and rump (below).
If this was not all the tail feathers were strange too in that they had an unusual amount of white on each feather, especially on the inner webs (below top).
A combination of bad weather and other commitments meant that I have only managed a single ringing visit to North River which saw our best catch so far of 33 birds (19 new, 13 retraps and one control). The new birds included another four Robin, Song Thrush, Long-tailed Tit and two new species a Chaffinch and two Greenfinch (below) whilst the control was a first year female Great Tit that had been ringed nearly 7km away at Capel in September last year. The afternoon was spent doing an amount of habitat work laying a large section of overstood blackthorn which should really benefit the birds in the summer for both nesting and food. Sightings here included a Barn Owl, three Crossbill, four Skylark, Greylag and Canada Geese and most surprisingly a pair of Tufted Duck flew high down river!
A brief session in my garden on 25th February caught me 33 new birds as usual mainly Blue Tits and Great Tits, but also included a Coal Tit, two Goldfinch and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Whilst a quick check of a neighbouring nestbox resulted in ringing an adult Stock Dove.

A large batch of recoveries have also come through, as follows:

BLUE TIT - X896793
ringed 27/12/09 Steyning, Sussex
caught 27/2/11 My garden - 427 days, 25km N

ringed 15/5/11 Crowborough, Sussex
caught 2/10/11 My garden - 140 days, 35km W
ringed 28/10/10 Gomshall, Surrey
caught 6/11/10 My garden - 9 days, 15km SSE

SISKIN - L867948
ringed 25/5/11 Llwynmawr, Wrexham
caught 22/8/11 Leith Hill - 89 days, 273km SE
SISKIN - X403389
ringed 5/5/09 Slalery, Northumberland
caught 30/11/11 Leith Hill - 939 days, 430km SSE

ringed 11/3/11 W Horsley, Surrey
caught 23/3/11 Leith Hill - 12 days, 13km SSE
ringed 29/1/10 E Grinstead, Sussex
caught 23/3/11 Leith Hill - 418 days, 24km W
ringed 14/3/11 E Grinstead, Sussex
caught 28/3/11 Leith Hill - 14 days, 24km W
ringed 10/11/10 Stanley Common, Sussex
caught 21/11/11 Leith Hill - 376 days, 31km ENE
ringed 30/9/11 Leith Hill
caught 1/11/11 Icklesham, Sussex - 32 days, 79km ESE
ringed 16/11/11 Leith Hill
caught 20/12/11 Queen Mary Res, Surrey - 34 days, 29km NNW

Birds ringed:
Lesser Redpoll - 39
Common Redpoll - 20
Redpoll sp. - 49
Siskin - 37
Chaffinch - 8
Great Tit - 8
Blue Tit - 28
Goldfinch - 3
Coal Tit - 1
Dunnock - 1
Robin - 6
Sparrowhawk - 1
Stock Dove - 1
Wren - 5
Long-tailed Tit - 1
Nuthatch - 1
Greenfinch - 2
Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1
Blackbird - 1
Redwing - 5
Song Thrush - 1