It's been a while since the last blog post. The summer seems to have been a good one for many birds. In late summer we conducted some early morning bird ringing sessions out on the farm, with some surprising results.
We were amazed by the number of migrant species that were using the hedgerrows that are on the farm, as places to forage for insects and berries as well as using them as migration corridors through the arable landscape of Cambridgeshire.
Commonest species ringed was common whitethroat, with c60 birds ringed in 3 mornings along one hedgerow alone. These were closely followed by Lesser Whitethroat, the paler grey more skulking cousin (that also does a strange migratory route, instead of heading due south via Iberia like most warblers, these birds head off east and journey through mainland Europe, the Middle east and into eastern Africa).
Comparison of the two species in this photo
Even more surprising was the finding of a juvenile Nightingale, that was using the farm as a place to forage before its onward migration. Yellow wagtail, blackcap, willow warbler were all ringed along this hedgerow too as well as resident farm species such as reed bunting and yellowhammer.
During this time we also set some specialist nets for Turtle Doves, one of the fastest decline species in the UK, to mark and radio tag some birds as part of a wider RSPB project looking into aiding the recovery of this species. The pre dawn starts were worth the effort, as three of these migratory pigeons were ringed (see pic below)
Those were the heady days of late summer, now as the crops have all been harvested and next years crops are just breaking the soil surface, the last few swallows and the occasional chiffchaff can be heard around the farmyard. Last week saw the first winter migrants arrive with redwings and bramblings on the farm on the same day the third ring ouzel of the year was flushed from a wheat stubble.
In the next few weeks, winter bird monitoring will commence, we'll keep you posted of any interesting happenings.