In trying to dispel the post-holiday blues this morning I took a trip to Out Rawcliffe, and not sure what I might find I first took a walk around the ringing site. The outcome was pretty unremarkable with just the normal numbers of pairs of 4 Willow Warbler, 3 Whitethroat, and single Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting and Corn Bunting, all now settled on forthcoming territories.
At least one pair of Whitethroats were engaged in the early stages of nest building, carrying long strands of grass to a clump of nettles.
Just yesterday there was notification from the BTO of a Whitethroat Y461617 ringed here at Rawcliffe Moss on 23 May 2012 and subsequently recaptured by French ringers on both 15 September and 19 September 2012 at La Maziere, Lot-et-Garonne, France, a distance of some 1082 km. It obviously spent a few days fattening up before the next leg of its huge journey.
Common Whitethroat - Out Rawcliffe to Lot-et-Garonne
Whitethroats are known to travel through France on their autumn migration, continuing south to eventually reach beyond the Sahara Desert and into West Africa where they spend the winter months. They migrate north again in Spring, reaching Britain in late April/early May where all being well, they raise a family.
I trapped the singing male Sedge Warbler and found it to be one first caught here in 2009 and recaptured in 2010 and 2011 but not in 2012. Failure to catch him in 2012 was due to lack of ringing visits in the appalling summer. I haven’t worked out the mileage involved in this bird making the journey between Out Rawcliffe and Africa so many times, suffice to say that the total is in the tens of thousands.
It seemed that no other warblers were around until the first and silent Blackcap of the year turned up in the net too. I didn't hear it singing later so maybe it was passing through.
While I was away in Menorca the feeders weren’t topped up with the result that few finches were evident today with only a single Chaffinch caught. The female had a brood patch and from the number of warning calls coming later from the plantation I deduced at least one Chaffinch nest wasn’t too far away from the ringing station.
Other birds noted this morning: 4 Goldfinch, 2 Yellowhammer, 1 Kestrel, 1 Little Owl, 10 Tree Sparrow, 8 Swallow, 4 House Martin and 16+ Whitethroats scattered across the farm and nearby. It appears that Whitethroats have arrived in some numbers even if other summer visitors haven’t.