Monday, March 14, 2011

A Spring Migrant...or two.

Using up the last of my annual leave by having extended weekends is great when the weather is like today. Clear and sunny with only a hint of a breeze, although it was cool generally, sheltered spots in the sun did hold some warmth. A bit of a relief after last nights -2.5 degrees...

After doing some jobs in the morning, I managed a couple of hours wander about this afternoon.

This Chiffchaff was calling and flitting between catkins as they do, but didn't sing. A female maybe? Whatever it is, its a nice early one for here...

Further on, in the drab woodland this appeared around a corner. What a stunner, a vermillion coloured Rhododendron, very nice. While taking this pic, a Tawny Owl was hooting nearby.

The days highlight though belongs to the Raven making sport of  a Buzzard overhead, the calls, 'clip clop' above sounded like horses hooves.

Both birds above were in the same frame but at the far ends of the shot so I've pulled them closer together in this image. The Raven was exactly the same size as the Buzzard.

As I came out of the woods, the Raven was in a cow field with Jackdaws where it looked the size of a Christmas Turkey until it flew off! 

This huge Bully only lingered for a few seconds before flying away into the back evergreens with its three companions, 2 females and another male. I think it is a Northern Bullfinch, and may even be the one seen last November, but I just didnt get a good prolonged view to compare it to its mates. Still, this record shot has nothing that would dispell my theory, and it certainly stood out...What a bird...

Also of note were 2 or 3 Grey Wagtails and 3 Little Grebes on the pond.


Ipin said...

Nice haul there, I've not had a grey wag this year yet!

Alan Tilmouth said...

Were the Grey Wags fresh in, as you know I 'year-ticked' one today at Scotch Gill.

The Birder With No Name said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James said...

I can't see any thorns of white on the Bully's wing bar but I guess all that does is to indiacte its of less easterly origin but still possibly nominate? I believe Pinemuncher & Fat Paul Scholes had something on these this winter.

Warren Baker said...

Well it's a northern Bullfinch - if you look from my southerly perspective :-)

Stewart said...

Cheers chaps.

James - Hello. This thorns thing is a relatively new feature that merits further observation. I have seen 6 Northern Bullfinches in Northumberland over the years and have handled / rung 3 of them. There were 2 females and one male.
The first thing that catches attention is the size /bulk. They are much bigger than our birds, and the females I have caught even reminded me of waxwing in the hand.
In 1996 we caught a female that gave the trumpet call all winter. Three birds I have come across did this but another three failed to call.

I think with such a clinal racial background, it isnt possible to box them into clean races unless caught and they fit all the criteria.

What I can say though, is that with experience of British Bully regularly, Northern Bully can be indicated to my own satisfaction, even if too difficult to submit to the records committee.

I find the best months for them are late Oct / Nov and late March early April on return.

I'll check out the blogs you mention with interest, we all need any help where we can get it!

Cheers Stewart.