Monday, 8 April 2013

SHRIEK! It's a Shrike!

I nearly started this posting complaining about the last month's weather, but have felt the need today to finally celebrate the last couple of days sunshine.  It was so good, that I nearly got down to just two layers.....nearly!  Of the 23 species ringed this month there are a number of highlights.

This was the first month of the winter that I caught a good number of Siskin (80) after a bit of a drought since about September, and the latter part of the month saw a big array of migrants carrying lots of fat deposits.  Sizes were very variable from wings of 69mm to 80mm, whilst weights were between 10.9g and 16.6g.  It also included this unusual looking adult male below with an extended amount of black around the face.

Adult male Siskin

Adult male Siskin

It has also been a very good Fringilla month catching 34 Chaffinch of which the majority have been of the larger northern populations.  With wing lengths up to 96mm and weights up to 27.6g, some were bigger and heavier than either of the five male Brambling caught.  This was more Brambling than I usually catch in a year!

But today proved to be a very memorable one.  Not just because I finally caught my first Chiffchaff of the year, but that I caught my first and probably last GREAT GREY SHRIKE!  Although I had always thought it possible to see one on the heathland at Leith Hill, I never expected to catch one, let alone in the middle of the Rhododendron Wood a kilometre away from the heathland!  What a handsome beast though:

1st year Great Grey Shrike - the blood on throat and face is from its last kill, not from me!

remnant juvenile barring on the breast feathers give away that this is a 1st year bird... do the nine unmoulted greater coverts.
What will the rest of April bring?