Filey Ringing Week 2013

A week of ups and downs in the Top Scrub, by Lucy Murgatroyd

Filey Ringing Week 2013 was unfortunately not one that will be remembered for the birds – once again the week was plagued with bad weather and less than favourable conditions for migration throughout the eight days. With heavy rain and persistently strong south-westerlies, two full days and two half days were lost. However the jovial atmosphere and good company amongst the team and members of the public kept spirits up.

The week kicked off on Saturday 19th with a reasonable total of 82 birds caught. The following day saw the Top Scrub under clear blue skies and warm sunshine, resulting in fewer birds being trapped (61); far from ideal conditions for the birds, but it did however bring a flurry of late butterfly records with a number of Commas, Red Admirals and Small Tortoiseshells, along with several dragonfly species including Migrant Hawkers and Common Darters.

As Monday arrived so did the rain, cutting short the day and leaving very wet ringers packing up by 11 o’clock. 16 birds were caught before the heavens opened, one of which was an impressive first-year female Sparrowhawk, always an exciting bird to see in the net and worth getting caught in the downpour for. The following day saw the rain easing but it was the turn of the strong winds to halt play, resulting in impossible conditions for netting.

As the week progressed the totals finally increased, with two full days possible, Wednesday and Thursday. The latter was the most productive of the week, with 125 birds ringed (compared with a meagre 22 on the Wednesday). Thursday’s good catch coincided nicely with the arrival of a visiting RSPB group, and allowed the ringers to show the visitors the finer points of ringing, and ageing/sexing techniques.

Unfortunately the last two days were blighted again by the weather, with strong south-westerlies and heavy rain, leaving the nets unopened once again but for a few hours on Saturday morning. However in that time we did manage to catch a Yellow-browed Warbler (a nice birthday present for CJB – 21 again!)

A total of 331 birds were caught and ringed throughout the week, which is very disappointing compared with previous years. Hopefully next year the week will coincide with a run of easterly winds – we can but pray…

The most caught species throughout the week consisted of: Greenfinch (70), Blackbird (37), Tree Sparrow (35), Lesser Redpoll (25) and Chaffinch (25). Three Bramblings were a welcome find in the nets, as were three Mealy Redpolls that were caught amongst flocks of Lessers.

Scarce warblers were at a premium, with three or possibly four Yellow-browed Warblers noted in the scrub itself, and a Dusky Warbler nearby, which chose to reside away from the ringing area and skulked in hawthorns (making for challenging viewing). The only other warblers to be caught throughout the week were Chiffchaffs (5) and Blackcaps (10) – some of which were carrying large amounts of fat. The regular band of eight ringers manned the TS for the week and were joined once again by Walter and Ann from Aberdeen who brought plenty of joy, good humour and black pudding!

As always many thanks to Scarborough Borough Council for their continued permission to ring on the Country Park.

Words & pictures by Lucy Murgatroyd