Thursday saw the best weather of the week, so we were able to go ahead with the planned trip to watch ringing at Bimble Bay.
We walked up to the bushes to find a little marquee erected and several cars arranged in a line. The first bird we saw after ringing was a Coal Tit, and Peter Dunn splayed its wing feathers to explain why this was a young bird, and its head markings indicate it may be a male, but it was a little early to tell for certain.
Oystercatcher (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
After that we were shown a Blackcap, and it's breast feathers were blown gently apart to show both its fat deposits, and that some feathers were still "in pin", indicating that this bird had not recently arrived, but it was a young bird.
Blackcap (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
Tree Sparrow (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
Next came a Tree Sparrow. The class were told about the fluctuating fortunes of this species, and how measures were being taken locally to stem the decline. Tree Sparrows ringed at Bimble Bay had been recaptured at Spurn Point and Gibraltar Point, so they head south and if they survive they return to Bimble Bay the following spring.
After that we were shown a Lesser Redpoll. Again as this was a young bird, but had no pinkish feathers on breast or rump, all that could be said was that it may not be a male bird. If this bird was examined next spring & did exhibit pink feathers in these two areas, then it could be described as a definite male.
Lesser Redpoll (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
Wren (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
Next up was a Wren, which are quite tricky to extract from the ringing bag, as there is always a chance it may try & get up your sleeve. Again this was an immature bird, the bands on its wings formed a straight line, not the less stratified, more chequered lines you expect in adult birds.
Immature Male Greenfinch (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
We were then shown 2 male Greenfinches, one of this year's, which looked fairly brightly coloured, until this was compared with a full adult bird.
Adult Male Greenfinch (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
Finally, we were shown a Robin and a Blue Tit, not a bad haul for a relatively quiet day, with lights winds from the west.
Immature Moorhen (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
Sparrowhawk (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
We shared cars to Bimble Bay Dams, which was also rather quiet. We did observe a female Sparrowhawk being mobbed by a trio of Magpies, but there were no Snipe, or indeed any waders of any species. We did see a single Heron, plus masses of Moorhens, and the place was saturated with Woodpigeons. We were in East Hide when an old gentleman opened the door and said the Yellow-Browed Warbler was showing well. We then had a 20 minute wait trying to locate the bird, but eventually it was found near the car park. That morning Claire noticed a Yellow-Browed Warbler in the new Crossley ID guide I was showing the group, and thought to herself that she'd never heard of that species before, but within 2 hours she had seen this species. Next time I'm going to show her another random picture of an exotic species, and we'll see if we can start a trend.
Yellow-Browed Warbler (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
Heron (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
Drake Teal (c) 2013 Richard Whateley
Birds ringed so far this week
In the afternoon there were still a few birds being ringed including a Goldcrest. Brian offered to release it, and it remained dormant on his hand for a few seconds before flying off into cover. Then there were more Greenfinches and a Blackbird. This young male had very noticeable bristles near its bill, which you should be able to see on an accompanying photo.
Immature Male Blackbird
Bristles on a Blackbird
Snow Buntings had been reported on Carr Naze, so we walked through the country park to have a look. Unfortunately, these had flown off, but we did see a Shag, and a Cormorant trying and failing to swallow a flat fish. There were Oystercatchers on the Brigg, plus at least one Purple Sandpiper. The fine weather brought out lots of day trippers, so these had frightened off all the other wader species from the beach and low rocks. The rest of the time was spent scrambling down the dangerous cliff and then slithering over some very slippery rocks. We did very well not to sustain any casualties. The beach itself was safer to walk on, but as we did so my mind went back to that September day 88 years ago when a toy dog was left on the same beach, and a terrible storm that evening consigned it to the waves, but did inspire a children's story.