Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Beer Head Bird Binge!

The conditions looked really exciting for today. Not the clear skies and northerly wind that's been producing the goods of late, but lots of cloud and pre-dawn/dawn rain.  So, at 5:45 I met Peter again and we were soon setting up nets at Beer Head.

Yet again, all seemed quiet at first. Very quiet. One singing Willow Warbler and literally nothing else. Two nets were up, a 60 foot and a 40 foot, and when we looked at the 60 for the second time and saw a female Redstart and four Willow Warblers in it - we were quite simply stunned! Where on earth had they come from?  And this is how the rest of the morning went...

Unlike the last two sessions up here when it was obvious a fall was happening, throughout the whole morning we didn't see much at all in the bushes. Three other birders came by, and had a good look about Beer Head, and all reported seeing very little. I did hear a Grasshopper Warbler reel briefly mid morning, but aside a small number of Willow Warblers, the bushes appeared pretty much migrant-less!  That's not what the mist nets said though...

This was actually my most successfully ringing session up here to date, with the two nets producing 53 birds! 35 of these were Willow Warblers - many of which looked distinctively cold-toned...

Clearly a bird breeding a long way north of Devon!

We also ringed three Chiffchaffs, two Blackcaps and two more female Redstarts.  Dad saw a third unringed female Redstart a little later too so there were at least three on site today.  

Overhead, Swallow passage picked up from mid morning with birds streaming north. Also had singles of Ringed Plover, Dunlin and House Martin over.

Finally, many thanks to Peter for the help, and Richard who had no idea his morning would turn out as it did!


  1. Hi Steve - congratulations on the new ringing site it looks superb. Would love to join you one morning. You are giving Portland a run for their money!

  2. Haha - someone signed in to the wrong account? :-)

    Of course Matt, you are always welcome to drop by and join me. Prob only got a couple of weeks of spring left, but I plan to give it the same effort this autumn. If it has shown me one thing, it's how much we under estimate migrant bird counts.