Now the totals are done it is interesting to compare September 2019 with September 2018.
The 2019 total of 1684 new birds is less than half that of 2018. The two most obvious factors were the windy weather which limited or prevented ringing and a general shortage of ringers .
Some of the biggest differences were – (2018 in brackets).
Sand Martin 0 (45), Swallow 4 (27), House Martin 19 (848), Lesser Whitethroat 8 (16), Blackcap 1008 (1708) and Chiffchaff 378 (623).
On the plus side are Goldcrest 67 (3), Firecrest 7 (3), Great Tit 31 (15) and Chaffinch 27 (7).
Interestingly the Blackcaps which are still moving through are in good condition with plenty of fat so have they just been delayed by the weather?
The easterly breeze was fresher than forecast and the there was the occassional bit of drizzle amongst the sunny intervals. As the high had drifted over from the west there was no significant arrival although Robins and Goldcrests continue to move through. One hundred and eleven birds were ringed. Goldcrest led the way with 27 followed by 21 Robins and 17 Long-tailed Tits. A Swallow, four Firecrests and two Siskins added variety to the catch.
The weather settled at last and it was a calm and at times sunny, warm, day. Ninety seven birds were ringed of 16 species. Goldcrests were just ahead of Chiffchaffs 16 to 15 but Robin was most numerous with 18. The first Lesser Redpoll and Fieldfare of the autumn were ringed.
No ringing possible today due to constant wind driven drizzle until late afternoon.
There has been an interesting batch of movements notified of late. The first group involves birds moving east along the coast before heading over to Europe. They are all birds of the year. Two were Blackcaps, one from Wiltshire in 66 days and one from Dorset in seven days. Three were Chiffchaffs, one from Bracknell Forest, one from Buckinghamshire and one from Hertfordshire. These were in no rush taking 20, 59 and 71 days respectively. The most interesting one was a young Cetti’s Warbler. It went the opposite direction, heading south-west to East Sussex eight days later. I would have thought it could have found a suitable territory closer to here.
After yesterdays rain-interrupted total of 35 birds it was a better catch in calmer, drier conditions. It would seem the calm and arrival of cooler weather encouraged a lot of birds to move on. This was not a surprise as several of yesterdays Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests had fat scores up to 5. Today 82 birds were ringed. Chiiffchaff continue to lead the way with 31. Of greater note was a very late Garden Warbler and two Bullfinches.
The weather lived up to its forecast with a calm start however cloud set in and there was an unexpected burst of drizzle. These mixed conditions gave a good mornings ringing. One hundred and fifty one birds were ringed, all caught in a very limited number of nets. There were plenty of Chiffchaffs around and 68 were ringed, along with 17 Blackcaps, eleven Goldcrests, and two Firecrests. Blue Tits continue to show strongly with 14 more ringed and eight retraps. Of complete contrast were 16 Swallows and one Yellow-browed Warbler.
The unsettled spell continues but the showers held off for a while and in a limited set of nets 80 birds were ringed. This included 28 Chiffchaffs, 22 Blackcaps, a Redwing and the first Siskin of the autumn.
The breeze turned easterly and the rain held off for a while. The cloud kept it very mild.
A small team restricted themselves to just a few nets due to the lurking rain. We still caught 114 new birds, just over half (58) were Chiffchaffs. There were also 25 Blackcaps and 15 Goldcrests. The most interesting feature was that 10% of the Chiffchaffs were adults. We ringed more adults in one day than we would normally expect in four weeks. Was this due to the lurking rain encouraging adults to stop?
There were also several retraps with good fat and weight showing they are making good use of the hold up.
The rain stopped but the breeze returned. It was possible to do some ringing and 41 birds were ringed. This included the third Yellow-browed Warbler and Coal Tit of the year. Six Robins better reflected the number that can be heard ticking from every hedge.
After two days of unsuitable conditions what do you do with a forecast of 50% rain? Does it mean half of us will get wet? In the end it meant that due to the wind dropping completely (hurray) we were able to get three quick rounds done before the drizzle returned en masse to make it a very damp day. In that time we were able to ring 33 birds. This included a Yellow-browed Warbler, a Firecrest, ten Goldcrests and 13 Chiffchaffs.
Judging by the fat scores these birds were not brand new arrivals but had had time to get up to fat three or four often.
I have got hold of the totals for the last two days and, thanks to the mornings being better than forecast, it has been a busy two days.
One hundred and two birds were ringed on Tuesday and 109 today. Blackcap (21, 36), Chiffchaff (23, 34) and Goldcrest (22, 17) made up the bulk and Blue Tit continued their run with 17 and 10. There are still hirundines moving through and three House Martins were ringed on Tuesday.
Although the forecast light NE had long disappeared from the forecast it was a light N-NW and cloud, giving good ringing conditions. Two hundred and twenty-one birds of nineteen species were ringed. Most notable was a Yellow-browed Warbler and three Mistle Thrushes. Forty two Chiffchaffs led the way closely followed by 40 Blackcaps and 38 Goldcrests. Blue Tits continued their recent impressive run with 19 more. Nineteen Song Thrushes was very notable as they rarely get into double figures nowadays.
The wind returned but it was possible to get nets up and 63 birds were ringed. This included the almost daily Firecrest and Redwing.
Hopes were high this morning with the wind forecast to drop right away and some light cloud. The first frost of the autumn came as a bit of a shock but the rush of birds soon made us forget this. In all 345 birds were ringed, three controlled (all Chiffchaffs), and 20 retrapped.
Chiffchaffs led with 150 followed by 97 Blackcaps. The most interesting feature was a reflection of what the vismig recorders were seeing with 48 new Blue Tits and nine Long-tailed Tits. There were also 10 retrap Blue Tits but they did not show until the end of the session. Two Coal Tits (of British appearance) and a Treecreeper tagged along.
It looked and sounded as if birds had moved on overnight. We still did 135 new birds thanks to one flurry of 62 House Martins. Showers and more wind arrived to put an end to that movement.
Blakcaps and Chiffchaffs were equal with 26 each and the first Redwing of the autumn was ringed.