A Special Time of Year

Sunday, April 2nd 2017

Spring is such a special time of year.  Foxglove is changing her coat from the blacks, greys and browns of winter to the greens and yellows of spring.  The flower walk did not record Marsh Marigold, but early this morning it was just opening, hidden away beneath the winter stems of grasses.

Marsh Marigold

By early afternoon, the sun had come out and the flower had opened!

Open Marsh Marigold

Early spring flowers are important for insects and you can see one sitting on this male willow flower.  I could not be sure if it was eating the pollen or waiting for prey.

Insect on willow flower

Spring sees our winter migrants heading north and summer ones arriving from the south.  Chiffchaffs, our first summer migrant to return, can be heard when walking around the reserve. A Chiffchaff that had been ringed elsewhere was caught today, as were 3 Redpolls and a Siskin. We will find out details once their information has been sent to the BTO.  In addition, among the birds caught were two 7 year olds - a Great Spotted Woodpecker which had been caught over 20 times, at least once every year since 2010 except 2015 - and a Great Tit ringed in 2010 in a nest box in Badger Beck.  Amazing that they have survived so long. There were also two 6 year olds, a Coal Tit and a female Chaffinch both ringed as juveniles in 2011. 

This morning we also heard the first Willow Warbler of 2017 which is always such a pleasant experience. This will hopefully be the first of many!  A male Sparrowhawk was caught that was last in the ringing room two years ago!  See below!

Brambling numbers decreased on the reserve for a couple of weeks but were back in strength today. They are fattening up prior to commencing their journey back to Scandinavia and other northern climes. In all 26 were ringed of 29 caught. No apologies for another photo of these stunning birds. 

Brambling

All was quiet in the ringing room when a call came in on the radio 'There is a Sparrowhawk in the net.'  Then silence. These birds are not easy to extract as their size often means that they can bounce out of the net before the ringers can get at them. We waited.  Then a larger bird bag was brought in and it was clear we had it. It was an adult male. Other birds caught included Goldcrest, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting and Bullfinch - in total 170 birds were processed altogether.

Sparrowhawk

Spring is the time when the resident birds are returning to Foxglove from the surrounding areas, to set up their territories ready to breed.  Many of them are already ringed, so usually our totals reflect this. But during the last two sessions we have ringed an unusual number of new birds which is good news.

Thank you to everyone who helped today.


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