Thursday, March 17, 2011

With seven Lapland Bunting proving so faithful to one corner of the same field for a second day, we decided that there was a good chance that the birds could be caught and ringed. Only seven had been previously ringed by the Obs since it started in 1953 so this seemed like a good opportunity to increase our understanding of this seldom trapped migrant. We know that Lapland Buntings overwinter along the coast of Western Europe and predominantly in South East Europe, but there is little evidence to show where the western winterers breed. The closest breeders are on areas of shrubby tundra in Norway but the breeding range of this species is basically circumpolar. Happily two birds proved relatively easy to walk into a waiting mist net.

Both are first-year birds as indicated by pointed tail feathers and generally worn plumage. In the top photo a male is on the left and a female on the right. Fantastic! And they have all returned to the same field today so there may be more in the hand soon. (c) Richard Brown

And back in the field again (c) Richard Brown

The first small fall of Chiffchaffs at Nant provided some entertainment whilst we put the nets up for the coming season. This individual has a bit of a 'pollen horn', a mass of pollen which sticks to the feathers at the base of the bill whilst the bird feeds. This horn was probably amassed somewhere warmer with lots of flowering plants, suggesting that this isn't a bird which has overwintered in North Europe. (c) Giselle Eagle

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