Sunday, 27 February 2011

Granby, Sunday 27 Feb

It was a short, sharp session - blue skies and flat calm for the first couple of hours and naturally a lack of birds to go with it. Like us, I suppose they were just loafing around enjoying the sun. Then, as it clouded over, the temperature dropped and the wind started to pick up a little a few more birds started to arrive at the feeders.
 
Totals (lowish, partly for weather reasons - see below) were 31 birds processed (27 new / 4 retrap), broken down as follows: Blackbird 1/0, Dunnock 2/1, Robin 0/1, Great Tit 10/0, Blue Tit 1/0, Chaffinch 1/0, Tree Sparrow 1/0, Reed Bunting 4/0, Yellowhammer 7/2. The Great Tit totals were intriguing and these were all first winter birds. By contrast, Blue Tits were virtually absent. And retraps were also thin on the ground - though we may have missed some due to packing up early. Reed Buntings are definitely doing well. We have only caught 28 in the previous 9 winters, and 4 equals the best one day capture ever.  
 
Of the several Yellowhammers we caught, this adult male was particularly handsome and with a young male trapped at the same time and a few minutes to spare we had a chance to make some comparisons (click on pic to enlarge).



It was generally quiet round and about, with only a couple of Fieldfares, no Redwings, very few Chaffinches and no more than a handful of Tree Sparrows. A couple of Song Thrushes were noisy and a small flock of Lapwings were on a field. Just after 10 o'clock, the wind picked up further and the rain started and with a great team effort we were packed up and ready to go in about 12 minutes. But not before we caught one final bird and a very intriguing one too.

As some of you may remember, Duncan and I spotted this individual a few weeks back and it was great to see it close up. It's a leucistic male Reed Bunting and if you look closely the shadow of its normal plumage can be seen. Partial leucism is not that uncommon, but it's pretty rare to see such extensive example as this, partly because such obvius birds are quickly picked out by predators.
Pete

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