Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Finally Some Bird Ringing - Manor Farm Country Park January 2014

The recent rainfall and gale force winds have been extremely frustrating for me since it has been impossible to do any bird ringing. So when the forecast for Sunday 5th January looked calm and still, I went for it. Unfortunately my trainees were all busy and so I decided to go to Manor Farm Country Park and try for some more house sparrows. I had been advised that the fields were saturated and best avoided so I set my nets around the farm, and in similar locations to those used just before the Christmas break.

The session itself was pretty quiet and in two hours I only caught 10 birds, five of which were retraps. The species caught were dunnock (3), house sparrow (3), blackbird (2), and single wren and robin. The three house sparrows were all retraps with the oldest being a female that was originally ringed on 6th November 2010, 3 years and 60 days previously.

Fieldfare Turdus pilaris - Manor Farm Country Park

I shouldn't have listened to the advise about the fields, as in between net rounds I wandered up into the fields to see hundreds of winter thrushes. The birds were feeding in another of my normal trapping areas and when flushed flew low into the nearby was very frustrating. There were at least 500 redwing, about 150 fieldfare and a mixed flock of finches that included 35 greenfinch, seven goldfinch and a couple of bullfinch.

With the wind now picking up and rain beginning once again I decided to call it a day, but rather than heading home I nipped down to Titchfield Haven for a spot of birding. There have been a couple of velvet scoter hanging around off shore since the autumn; they were still there as was a distant great northern diver. Other highlights included 15 sanderling, 20 dunlin, 100 oystercatchers and one bar-tailed godwit.

On Saturday 4th a local birder reported a presumed Siberian Chiffchaff along the boardwalk on the east side of the Haven. The bird was calling well and showed the distinctive pale grey brown upperparts, pale underparts and a good wing bar, so pretty conclusive. On Sunday morning, whilst trying for reed buntings Barry Duffin trapped a bird that showed some features that looked good for a 'tristis' type chiff, but this bird did not show a wing bar and therefore it was considered that it may be a different bird to that reported.

Siberian Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita tristis (B Duffin)

As can be seen from the pictures the bird does have a greyish tinge to the upperparts, but most of the feathers are fringed green. The supercilium had a yellow hue to it, the carpel joint was strongly tinged yellow and the ear coverts were dark.

Chiffchaff Underparts (B Duffin)

The most striking feature of this bird was the colouration of the underparts, which were extremely pale except for a slight buff tone to the under tail coverts.

Siberian Chiffchaff (B Duffin)

Unfortunately I did not get to see this bird in the hand, and have yet to see the reported Siberian Chiffchaff at the Haven, and initially I did have my reservations about this bird. But having chatted to the local birder who found the bird at the Haven, and following discussions with other birders, it seems that this bird is indeed a 'tristis'.

I have to admit it has been a while since I have seen one and I was originally being slightly cautious in my original post. Interestingly, it is considered that this bird is indeed the same individual that was recorded the day before being caught, yet in the hand it appears the lack the wing bar which was very visible in the field.

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