15th – 18th January – a little ringing then a little snow.   Leave a comment

Proper winter weather at last. It has been cold all week but on Friday the forcasted snow arrived.

The past few days have still been dogged by this nasty viral infection. Whilst I have been getting better, Margaret has been off work for much of the time, however she hopes to be back at work fulltime on Monday

On Tuesday 15th Shaun, Kevin and I did some ringing at the drain behind PC World. We were very successful with over 40 birds trapped including 10 Chiffchaffs and a Blackcap both scarce in winter in the UK. There were another seven unringed Chiffchaffs present, so a total of at least 17 Chiffchaffs in one site in winter is most remarkable.


Although a common breeder Blackcaps are quite rare in winter. Ringing has shown that our wintering birds are not breeding birds that decide not to migrate but are from southern Germany.


A typical nominate race (colybita) Chiffchaff


The matted feathers on the crown of this Chiffchaff is usually a sign that it has been feeding on pollen, but where would a Chiffchaff find pollen in winter?


This Chiffchaff with a very pale belly and greenish fringes looks quite like a Siberian Chiffchaff (race tristis) when held in the shade.


… but in the sun shows some green on the lesser coverts and above the bill. This bird was ringed at this site in winter 2009 and was retrapped in 2012, it would be most interesting to know where this bird goes in summer.

On Wednesday 16th Sean, Kevin and I made our weekly visit to Holton Lee. Again we trapped 50 birds, 32 of which were retraps. Best birds were two Treecreepers and a Sparrowhawk.


Details of the patterning on the primary feathers and the margins of the alula feather help separate this Common Treecreeper from its continental Short-toed cousin.


This male Sparrowhawk looks like an adult, but a few brown-fringed feathers on the lesser coverts show that is a third calender year bird, ie hatched in 2011 or age code 7 in ringing parlance ……


…. in addition the iris is a deep yellow, midway between the pale yellow of a juvenile and the orange of an adult.

On Friday 18th the expected snow arrived. Normally we don’t get much snow in Poole, due to the warming effects of the harbour, and what does fall usually melts during the day. By 0600 there was already a good covering and it continued to snow for much of the day, although it turned to a fine sleet in the afternoon. Of course we didn’t get anything like as much as snow as inland areas, especially in South Wales where a red alert had been issued. Weymouth, Portland and along the Fleet had very little snow and it was here that birds congregated. Cold weather movements used to be a feature of winter birding but we have seen few in recent years. In the afternoon I thought I would have a look at Holes Bay in case a Smew or other refugee from the cold had turned up. I did see a distant flock of Fieldfares, a group of Skylarks crossed the water, 16 Spoonbills (which have moved here from Arne), over 80 Avocets, a Spotted Redshank and a Kingfisher so my visit was hardly wasted. It is easy to get blase about the birds in our area but over much of the UK finding the aforementioned species alongside a major road just a mile outside of town would be unthinkable. Unfortunately the light was appalling and totally unsuited for photography.


Snow in Upton.


Both of the girl’s schools were closed due to the snow and they were both round before it was light, to tell us all about it. Kara is trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue.


We next saw the girls after dark when they popped round to build a snowman in our front garden.

Posted January 19, 2013 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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