Tuesday, 7 April 2015

First migrants

Sunday I ventured out to Farlington marshes for the first ringing I have done since November. Duncan (my trainer) and I had arranged a meet time of 05:55 at the gates, and we were joined by Amy and Jason.

Duncan is looking at doing an RAS(Re-trapping for Adult Survival) project on the Reed Warblers at Farlington, however it is a bit early to start trying for them just yet so we headed for the point field. Traditionally our efforts in the Point Field have been focused on Meadow Pipits (Anthus pratensis) however with the storms during the winter 2013/2014 the point field remained flooded for much of the spring/early summer last year making the habitat unsuitable for the birds nests. It was therefore very pleasant to see at least 4 territories established already with males singing atop the scrub. As well as a plethora of Linnet, territorial Blackbirds and a very vocal Chiffchaff.

We erected 5 nets in total and then waited for the magic to happen. the first net round brought a re-trap Dunnock and a Linnet followed by a couple of Reed Bunting and some more Linnets in the next round. We then had the first Meadow Pipit of 2015, the hind claw was measured to ensure it was indeed a Meadow and not a confusion species such as Tree Pipits which are typically also moving at this time of year.
Meadow Pipit being processed
Meadow Pipit before release.

A little later in the session we bagged the singing Chiffchaff, it was fitted with its shiny new 'AA' ring had all its vitals taken, including a check on the Primary emarginations to rule out Willow Warbler, and then was released. Jason suggested it was a very newly arrived bird owing to the fact he was out in the point field the night before and heard no Chiffchaff song. The bird could have come in towards last light and found the Marsh a suitable place to rest and feed before perhaps moving on.


Next round as well as a pair of Reed Buntings which were ringed and then released at the same time, were two further Mippits. Interestingly one of them was a retrap from last year, this meant we could reliably age this as an age code 6 due to it being aged as a 4 the year before. However this is something the BTO's IMPR system will not allow.

During the session a good number of Med Gulls passed overhead. The real surprise was the lack of Blackcaps on the reserve with just a single bird heard singing close to the car park. We would usually expect birds to have hit the nets by now, however it is still early in the season so we should see them soon.

Meadow Pipits being compared for accurate ageing.



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