Wednesday, 18 July 2012

What a difference a year makes.....

This time last year we were basking in gloriously summery weather conditions and ringing record numbers of migrant birds at Titchfield Haven, in particular large numbers of Grasshopper Warblers, with over 70 captured in the first week of ringing. This year however, we are still suffering from the effects of a lower than usual jet stream, and very unseasonably wet and windy conditions. It is therefore not surprising that so far the autumn migration has struggled to get going, and after four sessions we had not even managed to catch a total of 100 birds.

Juvenile Grasshopper Warbler

We did manage to catch our first Grasshopper Warblers of the year though, one on Thursday 12th and one on Saturday 14th. Both birds were juveniles, and since they do not breed at Titchfield Haven they must have been migrants. We did also catch an adult Willow Warbler, which is another species that doesn't breed at the site so must be a migrant, this bird won't be going anywhere for a while though because it was undergoing it post breeding moult. Presumably it has given up on breeding and moved to the coast to moult before moving on.

With the ringing session over, after having ringed another disappointing total of 20 birds, I headed back to Manor Farm Country Park to check on the Barn Owls, and I am pleased to report that they were doing very well.

Juvenile Barn Owl

The larger of the two birds had lost all its down and looked as immaculate as an adult bird. Its primary feathers were no longer in pin and it was in very good condition. The second, and smaller of the two chicks, had also put on some weight and grown significantly, in fact it was much heavier than the older bird.

Juvenile Barn Owl

I have to admit I was worried about these two owl chicks and how their parents wood fare catching food in the often wet nights we have been having, so I was very relieved to see them doing so well.

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