Sunday, 13 September 2009

Holme Pierrepont - Sun 13 September

Still not quite firing on all cylinders this Autumn. September usually brings us catches of 70+ birds and often nearer 100. Our total of 58 today continued the pattern of recent weeks and the disruptive 10 o'clock wind wasn't a minute late. But the weather surely doesn't tell the whole story though. We have still yet to catch (or even see) a decent flock of Long-tailed Tits (and therefore accompanying warblers). Might this have something to do with it?

However, it was a very pleasant morning with a beautiful sunrise and we enjoyed a good mix of species. Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were most numerous and we also caught several Reed Warblers, a couple of Whitethroats and a single Lesser. Willows were conspicuous by their absence.

The odd Chiff was singing, but one of the most obvious calls through the morning was the squeaky effort of young Chiffchaffs. Here's a pic of one of their wings showing three unmoulted juvenile greater coverts, typically paler, browner and more faded.
Some of the Blackcaps in particular were carrying decent fat reserves (any challengers for another 'guess the weight' competition!?) but at the other extreme we are still catching juvenile birds that have barely started their post-juvenile moults.

Here's the tail of one of today's Whitethroats showing a cracking fault bar. This tells us that the tail feathers grew simultaneously and therefore it's a strong indication that the bird is a youngster as adults typically moult their tail feathers in sequence.
Not much in the way of other records. Meadow Pipits were more noticeable with a dozen over as well as 4 Shoveler, single Greenshank and Grey Wagtail and the odd Migrant Hawker.

So here's your homework for the week. We caught a Reed Bunting with intermediate aging features and decided to call it a '2'. Its wings and tail were fresh and it had a bit of body moult. So what was its moult code? Perhaps I'll throw that one into the Ringers' Forum and let them chew on it for a while...

Pete

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