Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas

Hello all, and sorry for the quietness again recently.  I just wanted to break my silence to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. Really hope you all have a good one.

Thank you so much for reading and supporting Axe Birding.
 

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Beer Head 2014 Ringing Review

It was in 2013 that I was suddenly struck by the bird ringing potential Beer Head had to offer. Beer Head is our Portland Bill when it comes to birds, we only get a tiny fraction of the birds that Portland do, but it is certainly our best spot for grounded passerine migrants in spring and autumn, especially warblers and chats.  There was a small area in particular where I felt the habitat suited mist netting and over the years many migrants have been seen there, so during the winter of 2013/2014 I got in touch with the farmer to see if he'd let me give it a go.  The reply was very favourable, and made me wonder why I hadn't asked several years before!  April 2014 couldn't come round soon enough...

For those who don't know Beer Head, here's an overview...

That's Portland in the bottom right corner - Beer Head is nothing in comparison but it is a headland nonetheless.

A closer view of Beer Head. The area outlined in red is the usual area I bird when I go up here, although sometimes do wander further west along the cliff top towards Branscombe. The area circled in blue is my ringing site.

So as you can see from the above photo it really is just a small section that I've been ringing in.  There are plenty of other hedgerows and fence lines for migrants to filter along and completely bypass me and my nets, so my numbers are just a fraction of what Beer Head gets as a whole.  Looking at my ringing site in a bit more detail, I used four different net rides...

I never used all four nets at once, three was the most but I usually operated with just two.

During the year I managed to get up here on 20 mornings, seven during April, two in May, five in August,  five in September and one in October.  All sessions were over by 11am at the latest usually due to work commitments and as I said most times I was operating just two nets (often one 60 foot and one 40 foot). I was happy with the coverage I gave it in spring, but felt I could have done more in the autumn. Although I must say, it was a poor autumn for grounded passerine migrants on patch, Aug-Sep was much quieter than usual, and during October birding up Beer Head was very hard work indeed. I knew it would be the kind of ringing site that would vary day to day during migration time, being completely dependent on grounded migrants, and this was true, but thankfully I had more good days than bad - especially during the spring.  My worse day was the October session, it only lasted one and a half hours but I caught no birds at all.  My best for numbers was 22nd April, with 52 birds trapped, though 29th September wasn't far behind with 50 birds trapped.  In all I trapped and ringed 347 birds, and controlled one (the Blackcap mentioned in the previous blog post). And the 347 birds were...



Species Full grown Retraps/ Recoveries Total

Swallow 1 0 1

Meadow Pipit 2 0 2

Wren 6 3 9

Dunnock 14 0 14

Robin 16 3 19

Redstart 7 0 7

Wheatear 1 0 1

Blackbird 10 1 11

Sedge Warbler 1 0 1

Whitethroat 9 0 9

Garden Warbler 1 0 1

Blackcap 43 3 46

Chiffchaff 50 0 50

Willow Warbler 134 0 134

Goldcrest 9 0 9

Firecrest 1 0 1

Spotted Flycatcher 1 0 1

Long-tailed Tit 9 0 9

Blue Tit 8 2 10

Great Tit 4 1 5

Chaffinch 5 0 5

Greenfinch 8 0 8

Goldfinch 1 0 1

Linnet 6 0 6

Total 347 13 360


And there you have it.  As I expected from the start, mostly migrant birds. Even the Robins I'd say at least 14 of them were true migrants, with just one or two being resident birds. Same with Blackbirds, but the Dunnocks and Wrens were probably all local birds along with some of the tits and finches.  At the start of the season I said to myself I would be very happy to have ringed 100 Willow Warblers by the end of the year, and as you can see I smashed that.  Interestingly out of the 134, 103 were in the spring with just 31 in the autumn - summing up perfectly how poor the autumn was for us in terms of grounded migrant numbers.  

Here's a few pics of some of the oddities that wound up in my nets...

Female Firecrest on 4/4/14
My first Redstart caught here, a cracking male on 14/4/14
With my first female Redstart not far behind on 17/4/14
Male Greenland Wheatear on 2/5/14
Garden Warbler on 14/5/14
Spotted Flycatcher on 14/5/14
Sedge Warbler on 18/8/14

So what did I learn, and what were the surprises? Well quite a lot of both to be honest!  I've found it really fascinating ringing at a site that I and others have birded for many years. It has completely changed my thoughts about Beer Head, and birding during spring and autumn. 

My best days in the spring were on clear and bright mornings, not the cloudy overcast weather that is often associated with good spring falls. The important factor was the wind direction though, with the northerly element being key in grounding migrants. The bad news is although these weather conditions were the best for grounding birds, wind along with clear blue skies aren't great for mist netting. I probably would have caught many more birds if there were clouds in the sky. 

I also found that during these good conditions birds were arriving/passing throughout the morning, they clearly hadn't all arrived at dawn as is often thought. In fact the first half hour after dawn was often very very quiet, and on a couple of occasions it looked like the morning was going to be a complete waste of time based on how it started, but suddenly it would get busy. Whether the birds had arrived but just hadn't started moving around I don't know, but this was a big surprise to me, I was convinced dawn was going to be the busiest time of the morning.

There were several days in the spring that I know if I was birding around Beer Head I would have said it was quiet, but the nets proved otherwise.  In fact I remember one day in particular that both my Dad and Ian M were birding and reported the bushes were quiet, but I'd caught over thirty Willow Warblers, a couple of Redstarts, etc... And I can safely say over the years of birding Beer Head we have all been under counting - and this probably happens everywhere.  Even on the quiet days when there was just a light trickle of phylloscs, each time I went to the nets there would be a few new ones, and none of the ones I had already ringed.  Clearly in the spring birds often move through really quite rapidly with few lingering.  Birds often flew into the nets in small groups as well, I expected this in the autumn but not so much in the spring, but it certainly was the case.

Sylvia Warblers were a surprise too, being surprisingly scarce in the spring. Over the year I caught 43 Blackcaps, 9 Whitethroats and a Garden Warbler.  Well just three of those Blackcaps and the Garden Warbler were in the spring. So odd as Blackcaps were singing throughout the spring from just down the slope!  It's obvious why I caught the number I did in the autumn because there was a lot of food about where I net, but why so few in the spring?  I think the most obvious answer is that they stay lower down the headland, either in the under cliff below Beer Head or in the thicker bushes just down the slope to the east of where I ring.  Like I said, Blackcaps were always singing from here, so maybe the singing birds lure in all the passing migrants?  Whatever the reason I found it quite odd though, the ratio of phylloscs to sylvia just wasn't right - and it's not like the habitat isn't suitable!

And although we know this with birding anyway, just because it's quiet doesn't mean it's not worth it.  Both the Firecrest and Greenland Wheatear were caught on quiet days....

Right - I think this post is long enough. I want to end by saying I cannot wait for next year to start up here, and really look forward to seeing what else I learn. And also, I would like to thank Peter, Doug, Richard, James and my Dad who all helped out at some time or the other, whether it was ringing, writing, or kit carrying. It all helped and some of it was crucial to the success of the site.  Lastly of course, thanks to the land owner for being so helpful and generous.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Blackcap Control

I've been meaning to post all week, but just haven't had the time. The blog post I was going to do will have to wait a bit longer now though as a very exciting email dropped into my inbox this morning...

On 14th May this year I caught this chap on Beer Head...



A lovely male Blackcap, which was a second-year bird (meaning it was born in 2013 - age code 5), had a wing length of 76mm and weighed 18.1 grams. It also had a ring on, and not one of mine - Y737725.

The blog post from that day can be found here: http://stevesbirdingblog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/back-to-beer-head.html.

This mornings email told me where it was first ringed. First of all, I'm pleased to say I aged and sexed it correctly, and even the wing length was an exact match!  But where and when was it ringed? Well on 5th October 2013 at Stanford Reservoir, Northamptonshire, which is 150 miles NE of Beer Head.




How brilliant! It obviously stopped off at Stanford Res during its autumn migration last year, and I guess I trapped it when it first reached the UK this spring.  It would have been nice to know where it was born, but still, what a great story.  Hopefully there will be many more like this to come...

Monday, 24 November 2014

A Touch Of Frost

So nice to feel a chill in the air this morning - a proper winter one.  The cars took several minutes to defrost this morning, the crystal clear over night sky had given us a sharp frost this morning...



I had high hopes for today to be honest. I wasn't expecting grey geese, wild swans or masses of ducks, but I was hoping to see some Warblers.  Chiffchaffs have been very scarce for several weeks here, with very few at the usual wintering sites, but a tour of the likely spots today showed at least 14.  Rather unfairly though, I didn't see any other species of Warbler!  In fact I didn't even see a 'grey' Chiffchaff - they were all green collybita birds. 

I really did spend all my birding time today looking for warblers, and haven't seen much else.  Bun and my Dad have seen at least four Black Redstarts between them, all new in, and another species that's had a poor showing here so far this autumn.  I didn't see any of today's birds, but on Saturday just gone was thrilled to see one just down from my house, a nice first-winter male...



Forecast doesn't look too promising for the morning - be a good day to catch up with emails I think...

Friday, 21 November 2014

A Spoon And A Gull

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's got this condition, but I find it impossible to drive past the Estuary without stopping and looking. Whatever I'm doing, wherever I'm going, whoevers in the car - it doesn't matter. I just can't drive between Seaton and Axmouth without stopping at least twice.  So taking this into account, it really is surprising how few birds of note I have seen on the Estuary this autumn. In fact, apart from the Caspian Gull, I can't recall anything else that's made this blog from my Estuary checks.  Thankfully though yesterday saw an injection of semi-quality.

At about 08:30 whilst I was stood at Coronation Corner this immature Spoonbill flew in and fed amongst the resting Gulls... 



Everyone see the cheeky adult Med Gull in the lower photo? Bun texted the news out on my behalf (faulty phone - thanks Kevo), but it seems this Spooner stayed only briefly as it wasn't there twenty minutes later. 

Another sweep of the Estuary early afternoon revealed something that's much more up my street (although don't get me wrong I have nothing against Spoonbills!) an absolute stunner of an adult Yellow-legged Gull...



What an absolute beast. It wasn't the biggest YLG I've ever seen, being only very slightly chunkier than the surrounding Herring Gulls, and with a not too massive beak, so I reckon it's a female. But I just love the combination of the clean white head and breast, dark grey mantle, extensive black on the primaries and bright yellow legs of this species - one of the smartest adult large gulls around I'd say. It certainly brightened up what was otherwise a dull day for me.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Winter Woes

I've been walking the dog around Axmouth harbour pretty much daily for the last three weeks, hoping for maybe a storm-driven Grey Phal, or Little Auk, the patches first Spotted Sand (yes I think big - although we are somewhat over due one!), Snow Buntings or even just a Black Red. Well none of the scarcities/rarities in that list ever materialised, and it took until Sunday just gone for a Black Red to finally appear...

 


The following day there were two here, along with a late Wheatear on Seaton Beach.  Although no Spotted Sandpiper, it seems as though one of it's commoner cousins is going to over winter with us...

 

Am so glad to say that thrush numbers have increased.  Last Thursday and Friday I saw several flocks of Redwings around the patch, including a group whizzing about the estate I live in.  And I saw my first Fieldfare of the winter on Friday, with small numbers in Colyford (less than ten).

Have to say though, it has been a very poor autumn for many species of birds, especially finches.  It has to be the worst autumn for year for Siskins, I've had less than ten on vis mig this whole autumn, but in previous autumns I often see over a 100 in a morning. I've not had any true 'vis mig' Redpolls (just one in a woodland where they might breed) and I have still not seen/heard a Brambling.  Even Chaffinch numbers were way way down this autumn - and no Crossbills either.  I reckon there's still stacks of food in Scandinavia, and if something drastic doesn't happen weather wise, I think it's going to be a quiet winter down here in the south west.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Wrong Choice

Yesterday, the number of gulls on the Estuary during the afternoon were just too much of a pull for me - I spent all the birding time I had looking at them...

Stuff of dreams...

Despite numerous visits and scans, the best I managed was a probable third-winter Yellow-legged Gull.  There's no reason why it wasn't one, but I just didn't see it long or well enough to be absolutely sure a hybrid could be ruled out.   There was an impressive number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls about too, with 80, all of the graellsii race for a change - we tend to have darker backed birds drop in when the wind is up. Amongst the small gulls were two Kittiwakes and three Med Gulls...

One of the adult Meds

During the morning I had given the sea ten minutes, and was impressed with the number of Kittiwakes on the move, I also noted another four Med Gulls. But this is exactly where I should have been looking during the afternoon, as Portland, Berry Head and even Budleigh recording excellent numbers of sea birds.

The wind kept up over night along with showers, so I didn't want to make the same mistake this morning and was at the sea front for 7am.  Sadly the passage had died off, probably because the wind had much more west in it and visibility was much better.  Still, staying there until 08:30 did give me a pretty nice selection of birds, my favourite being the lovely juv Pom that flew west at 07:30.  Full counts:

16 Brent Geese (7 west, 9 east)
13 Common Scoter
4 Red-breasted Merganser (in one flock, flew west)
1 Goosander (female/juv flew west along the beach)
1 Red-throated Diver
1 Black-throated Diver (very close west, flew into Seaton Hole)
1 Pomarine Skua
3 Med Gull
2 small wader sp. (looked chunky and pale, gleaming white underwings and dark bits around the face, but there were just too distant to clinch - although I think I know what they were.)

Think I might try again in the morning if the weather is right - we are due a Little Auk or two.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Pigeon Passage

This morning it finally felt like autumn!  I stepped out the back door just after 6am and was greeted by a distinct chill and a beautifully crystal clear starry sky. A little later, just after the sun rose over Beer Head, it looked and felt equally as autumnal....



I knew the bushes were going to be quiet, but I was hoping for some good vis mig. Well, Pigeons certainly didn't disappoint.  Whilst here, and birding at other sites later in the morning, I had just over 8,000 Wood Pigeons fly west.  Some of the flocks were obviously spooked by something, and came tumbling down from high and continued flying west only just above head height.  Love hearing the 'woosh' followed by the sound of their powerful wing beats...



There were quite a few Stock Doves mixed in, and the odd flock of Jackdaw too.  It's a real shame cloud and rain came in just after 9:30, as it could have been a really big day for them. 

Forgetting the Pigeons, the vis mig was disappointing, with not that many smaller birds moving - although this could have been because they were passing ultra high due to the clear skies and light winds.  I suppose the highlight was a high flying very vocal Bullfinch going west - don't tend to see that many of these on vis mig. Otherwise it was just relatively small numbers of Skylarks, Linnets, Chaffinches, Reed Buntings, alba Wagtails and Meadow Pipits.

I did have a good 'vis mig' bird on Sunday, during a dog walk with Jess.  Whilst walking along Harbour Road in Seaton (the road just inland and running parallel with the sea front), the gulls went up and for a change I could immediately see why - a Kite!  Sadly it was just a Red Kite, but still great to see as winter records remain pretty scarce in Devon.  It flew almost directly above us as it followed the road east, then when it got to the Estuary began to spiral up before I lost it as it circled over Axe Cliff.  My rapid right hand meant the texts got out whilst I was still watching it, and amazingly Bun managed to see it from Seaton Hole!

I'll finish this post with a couple of off-patch photos.  We took the dog to Stover CP last Saturday, and I was pleased to see a pair of Mandarins in one of the arms of the main lake...


Saturday, 1 November 2014

October Ends In Style

What a few days!!!  I'll start with Thursday...

Another day, another dog walk, and another Yellow-browed Warbler (or two?).  At Lower Brucklands Ponds late morning one of the first birds I looked at in a Tit flock around the top pond was a Yellow-browed Warbler - nice!  With so much movement, and so much cover, it was hard to keep tabs on it, but for a while every time I lifted my bins there was a Yellow-browed Warbler looking at me! There was one Chiff in the flock, and I saw that three times, but I must have seen the Yellow-browed(s?) about ten times!  Only heard Yellow-browed call twice, but I'm pretty sure there were two birds (and who knows, maybe more?) in there. Annoying really as I'd liked to have confirmed it if there were more than one, but never mind.  Lower Bruckland really is the local hot spot for this species, almost half of the patch records have come from here.

Soon after I got home I had a phone call from Gav, he was listening to a Yellow-browed in Axmouth just down the road from where last Saturday's bird was - so presumably the same one?  Great that someone else managed to connect with it.

Thursday night was incredible - without doubt one of the best nocturnal migrations I have ever witnessed over Seaton.  Redwing and Song Thrush calls were constant, some sounded so low and there were clearly some flocks involved too.  Just amazing.  Also heard a few Blackbirds and a Dunlin.  Love migration in action. Incredible. And it gave me a good feeling about Friday...

So Friday dawned, and at first it just produced some decent vis mig - Wood Pigeons, Stock Doves and Jackdaws in particular making the most of the clear skies - but there didn't appear to me many grounded migrants about.  I tried Branscombe (a very under watched site), Seaton Marshes and along the cycle track and Mare Lane in Beer (behind the Beer Cemetery Fields). Certainly thrushes weren't very evident so they all must have all flown straight over during the previous night. Turns out I was just in the wrong place....

Seaton Hole has been heaving with birds over the last week, I've seen the Firecrest there daily, but Friday was the first day I didn't go there this week. Ian M and Ian P (looking for the Firecrest) did and found a fantastic patch first - some would say an overdue one, but in my opinion not so, as they seem to turn up only at their favoured haunts year in year out. A lovely first-winter Red-breasted Flycatcher...



Although it was first found in the open on an isolated tree, it spent most of its time high in the conifer plantation on the left hand side of the road. As it was always high up my photos are not too good, but it was a great bird to watch.  And now I realise why they are only seen at their traditional stop over sites....because they are so hard to spot!  It would often sit motionless for several minutes, and could SO easily be walked past by even the sharpest birder.  It didn't call once, and if this bird was another 10 metres deeper into the wood no one would ever have known it was there.  The next photo should show you all what I mean, and bear in mind this was at the very top of the trees.... Can you see it?



I actually now think the only reason RB Flies appear to be so site faithful, is because they aren't looked for deep in random woods across the UK, which is where many of them probably are.  They like big trees and they like being at the top of them!

I really am chuffed to be able to add this bird to my patch list (my 253rd bird on patch). Although I think we've had them in the past, and am certain we will have more in the future, I think the chances of another actually being found is slim. So it's a good job this bird hung around for the rest of the day for all the locals to see.
Whilst watching this bird, saw a Firecrest and had a massive surprise when this Willow Warbler appeared in front of us!  My latest ever, just such a shame that when it came close enough to be photographed there was a bloody great bramble in the way....



Quite a pale bird, although it did had some yellow tones around the throat and neck.  Have to say when I first saw it head on and could just see a pale belly, striking supercilium and pink-based bill, I was half expecting to see wing bars when it turned around! Sadly not.

This morning I spent a couple hours kicking the stubble fields at Axe Cliff.  Lots of Linnets and Skylarks as is always the case up here in the autumn, but apart from four Stonechat no evidence of much else grounded.  Overhead there seemed to be lots on the move, plenty of Pigeons again and finches along with my first Golden Plover of the autumn.  The Raven population certainly seems to be thriving up here...


Monday, 27 October 2014

Dog Walking Delights

My only birding over past few days have been whilst walking Honey - and finally I've seen some notable birds whilst doing this.

On Saturday, an early afternoon walk around Axmouth with Jess and Honey was just coming to its end when a Yellow-browed Warbler started calling from a tree above us. I can't tell you how nice it was to finally hear one on patch this autumn after so much trying and hoping!  After a few minutes it flew out of the tree, and spent three or four minutes in small bushes and trees either side of the road, before flying back into the large tree where it had come from.  It was always elusive, but did show well in the end, and it remained very vocal.  This is the tenth Yellow-browed Warbler for the patch, my seventh.  

Today, had a lovely afternoon walk with Honey and Mum, and jammed into a load of crests at Seaton Hole.  To be honest I thought I was going to turn up another Yellow-browed as there was just so much activity, but I was more than happy with the two gorgeous male Firecrest, with one in particular showing really well.  Mind you, although it showed well, it never stayed still for long...



This following photo was so nearly a cracking photo - but the damn auto focus as usual decided to focus on the branches in front and not the bird...



.....gutted! 

I wonder what tomorrow's dog walk will show...

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Caspian Gull

Yesterday wasn't the best of days for me.  First of all my laptop wouldn't turn on and kept telling me there was a critical error during start up and all programs may be lost - bugger. Then there was the loaf of bread I made, totally cocked something up and it was completely inedible. And thirdly an attempted ringing session, which ended with me ringing no birds, and a female Pheasant having made a massive hole half way up and half way along my newest 60 foot net. I also got very wet as I hastily took the net down during a sudden heavy rain shower, which is also when I stood in a cow pat.

I'm pleased to say today is a much better day, and my laptop has been fixed (I'm currently backing everything up!).  There was one upside to not having a laptop yesterday though - it meant I didn't waste my day staring at it!  And my third check of the Estuary gulls mid afternoon gave me a rather nice reward, a lovely first-winter Caspian Gull.  It was by the tram shed from 15:25-15:50, when it flew south towards the sea...



As first-winter Caspian Gulls go it was a pretty classic bird, nice and hefty in size, long-legged, long-billed, etc. In general it looked so pale (mostly thanks to the white head and pale grey mantle/scapular feathers), never would a Herring or Lesser Black-backed in first-winter plumage look this pale. This is what made me jump out of the car for the scope in the first place.

The only slightly different feature to what I am used to seeing was the faintly grey mottled flanks this bird showed, but I think I can explain this. We see most our Caspian Gulls here between Christmas and March when their necks, breasts and flanks are pure white, but this bird is much younger and could have been in full juvenile plumage less than two months ago. It did have clean white centre to the neck and breast, it was just the flanks and breast sides that had this faint mottling - I reckon give it a month and they will indeed be Daz white.

With the demise of the Not Quite Scilly blog, I best get a bit technical and explain exactly why this was a Caspian Gull in more detail. I hope this helps (click on the images to make them bigger and the text more readable)...


  

So with the gull taken into account, and the fact my laptop is fine, was yesterday really that bad?  Well it sure could have been worse...

Near Boshill Cross this morning

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Wishing West Was East

Please bear with the lack of action on this blog. Although I don't have time to blog at the moment, I haven't much to blog about anyway!

Every day my dog walks have been getting me out for a bit, but it does seem pretty quiet out there. The weathers not been helpful though, and this I'm sure is why the 'vis mig' has been so below par. Apart from a few SkylarkMeadow Pipits, Swallows, House Martins and four Siskin over Seaton Hole on Monday - very little has been flying over this part of Devon when I've been out and about.

Seems equally sparse in the trees and bushes at the moment too, with Chiffchaff numbers having dropped right off this week.  Ever hopeful for a Yellow-browed, and I'm sure there's at least one out there, but it's a needle in a haystack job.  I did hope my varied dog walking locations and routes would increase my chances of seeing/hearing one, but not yet...

Yesterday I fancied a change of scenery and actually spent ten minutes proper birding, with a look along the Estuary before work.  There were lots of gulls, lots and lots, but sadly nothing better than an adult Med Gull and at least four adult intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gulls...

As black as the Great Black-backs

It's been sickening and so frustrating seeing the reports coming out of the east of the country over the last few days, with Dungeness bragging 550+ Ring Ouzels on one day, and numerous rarities appearing along the whole length of the east coast. Thousands of Redwings have also arrived into the UK now, and finally I heard one flying over Seaton at about 9:30 last night - yet to see one though.

The only other slightly notable birds that I've seen were a couple of new Cetti's Warbler, one singing in Axe Reedbed (my first singing male in the valley for years) and a calling bird at Lower Bruckland Ponds. 

Thanks for staying with me viewers, hopefully within a couple of weeks blog posts will become more regular again...

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Best Beer Head Ringing Morning Yet?

Sorry again for the lack of updates, I simply haven't the time at the moment. I really need a break from all the numbers and dates that I'm in the middle of writing up though, so lucky viewers here's a blog post...

Ideally I would be ringing every morning up Beer Head at the moment, but am limiting myself to one morning a week so I can get my work done. This week I decided to head up on Monday just gone, and I was joined by Peter again (who brought along two incredibly tasty vegetable tarts - yum!). Must just add my congratulations to Peter who following  a ringing course on the Isle of Wight has been recommended for his C Permit - well done.  Hope you and your vegetable tarts still want to join me on my Beer Head outings.

The weather was absolutely perfect for ringing, with no wind and complete cloud cover. At first though it didn't seem like there was much about, but this clearly wasn't the case as two nets open for just over two hours caught us 53 birds!  The first hour was steady, and we were catching a few Goldcrests, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps, as well as my first two Meadow Pipits for the site. But then a Long-tailed Tit flock appeared, and spent ages just milling about - this is when it went a bit busy and I decided to close the nets...

Luckily my Dad was about, and acted as scribe.

Out of the 53 birds, 48 were 'new' birds (means unringed when first caught) and compromised: 9 Blackcap, 23 Chiffchaff, 7 Goldcrest, 6 Long-tailed Tit, 2 Meadow Pipit and a Wren.  Interestingly, and I guess this indicates a good breeding season, out of these 48 birds, only one was an adult (a Chiffchaff), with the other 47 being birds born this year.

Following on from my last Beer Head post, the variation in crowns of first-year (3) male Blackcaps still amazes me (both these birds had seemingly completed their post juvenile moult)...

On the right hand bird note just a few brown flecks above the eye and at back of head.

Since Monday, the only trips I've had out is when I've gone to work or walked the dog. This morning Axe Cliff showed four Wheatear and lovely views of a Stoat, and a woodland walk yesterday gave nothing more than good numbers of Goldcrests.  This morning I pulled over briefly when driving along the Estuary, and am pleased to report Honey does indeed take after her 'Dad' - although I will be peed if she finds that Pallas's Gull before me...

She doesn't even need optics!

And to complete this post, my first post in October (which by the way I can't believe - its over 20'C outside by day at the moment!), a shot of a Robin singing its winter song with clear blue sky behind...

Talking of Robins, it'll be Christmas soon...