19 Mar 2012

Signs of spring.

Spring passage has begun with Hilbre having a trickle of Goldcrests for the last week or so that turned into a deluge last Wednesday when over 200 were on the Islands of which 78 were ringed and there were two 'controls'. Amazing considering the total number of Goldcrests they've ever ringed in March is 450 is and the main passage isn't expected until April! On the same day the first Chiffchaffs and Wheatears of the spring were caught. A Chiffchaff singing in our garden on the 17th was my first local spring bird.

Saturday was spent in the company of other gull enthusiast with Martin Garner on Arpely Tip and Richmond Bank grilling the gulls and learning the fine details of separating first winter argentatus Herring Gull from argenteus. A brilliant day out with some mates whom I hadn't seen for awhile. All of us would be considered as competent birders but it just shows your never to late to learn.

Highlights included 3 Iceland Gulls (adult, 1st winter & 2nd winter), 3 Yellow-legged Gulls (adult & two first winters & a fourth year type Caspian Gull.  Any body interested in learning more about gulls should spend a day with Martin. Another interesting bird was  a fuscus type Lesser Black-backed. Very dark mantled, long wings and short legs. If only it had had a Finnish colour ring!

 1st winter Iceland Gull.

 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull.

Caspian Gull - not the best shot but it was one.

After a day out in the field Saturday I planned to spend Sunday doing chores around the house but waking up to a beautiful sunny day put paid to that and I got over to Hilbre around 10.00 after following the tide out. Not many birds around but two House Sparrows were a typical spring passage bird.

An unusual adult male Blackbird was caught around midday - a fantastic looking bird with a white eye patch.

All in all a good weekend with the England Rugby team beating Ireland at Twickenham and coming second in the 6 Nations courtesy of a dodgy disallowed try against the eventual winners Wales and Liverpool beating Stoke to progress to the semi-final of the FA cup.


DaveE said...

Hi Phil,
The ravens I mentioned to you last year are breeding again.

Phil Woollen. said...

Good news Dave. We saw a pair at Burton a few weeks ago that were carrying food in their crops.