18 Sep 2014

Pipits & Chats.

Its that time of year when the autumnal mists start descending overnight and clearing as the sun rises. Migrant birds are also moving and with the wind forecast from the east expectations are high!

A quick trip to Hilbre before work was rewarded with two cracking birds added to the ringing totals for the year. A Rock Pipit had been hanging around the island for a couple of weeks and we often catch them in potter traps baited with meal worms. Breeding has never been proven in the Hilbre recording area in recent years although it has been suspected. Most of our birds are wintering or passage birds and some re-trap data has shown birds do return in successive winters.

Checking the mist net in the Old Obs garden we were surprised to find a Rock Pipit in the bottom shelf! A very unusual place to find one! Taking it back to the Obs it was aged as a calendar year bird (3), ringed and released. They're a very understated 'little brown job' but when you see them in the hand they're subtly quite attractive.

Usually we'd be more than satisfied to catch a Rock Pipit but the morning had another surprise for us when a Stonechat appeared in the bracken at the north end and was again caught in the Old Obs mist net! Although they breed at sites along the Wirral Coast they're a scarce visitor to Hilbre with only a single bird being caught in most years.

Again it was aged as a bird of the year and although the feeling was it was a young male we left it un-sexed.

A very pleasant couple of hours with a few Willow Warblers, Chiffchaff and Goldcrests being ringed along with a Common Whitethroat caught just as we were leaving. It was also good to catch up with Gavin who'd been staying a couple of nights and had run the moth trap allowing me to become reaqainted and familiarise myself with the different species as I haven't done much moth trapping for a few years now - like this Square-spot Dart!

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