Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Despite the rather unpromising weather situation, yesterday turned out to be a bit of a decent day. Two Turtle Doves and a Crossbill were frequenting the area around Nant, so we headed up there to open a net sheltered by the Plantation. Despite the fact that the area had already been well birded, two skulking Reed Warblers had avoided detection but soon found the bottom shelf. We can't help but wonder what else must sneak through undetected! No doubt there must be a Subalpine Warbler lurking somewhere. A few Redpolls were also caught including two more Northwest looking individuals and a Lesser Redpoll bearing a French ring. Then, just as we were considering some well-earned food, the Subalpine Warbler finally materialised!

The rather skulking female Subalpine Warbler stuck to scrub around the Limekiln and nearby hillside. Approximately 80% of British records are in the Spring, probably due to returning birds overshooting their breeding grounds and a circular migration route which takes them away from the UK in the autumn. (c) Richard Brown

The Turtle Dove is the only pigeon in the world to undertake a truly long-distance migration. It is also the only migrant which crosses the Sahara but remains almost wholly granivorous throughout its life. The entire British breeding population winters between Senegal and Ethiopia. Sadly the British population is declining at a rate faster than nearly all other species. It has been suggested that this is due to a shortened breeding season which reduces the number of nesting attempts, this as a result of increased herbicide use which reduces food availability. It may also be due to increased non-breeding mortality, particularly due to hunting. (c) Richard Brown

Nominate race Common Crossbills breed in a massive area stretching from Europe to Japan. They breed mainly from November to April when Spruce seed is at its most abundant. The larger billed species of Crossbill tend to breed later when there is an abundance of Scots Pine seed. This individual has a rather prominent double wingbar formed by pale tips to the median and greater coverts. But this isn't particularly unusual in Common Crossbills. (c) Richard Brown

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