Saturday, 4 August 2012

Nectar-drinking Blackcaps

This morning as I peered through the thin film of sleep to see what the weather held I noticed the back end of a nondescript warbler moving amongst the top branches of the cotoneaster hedge. Unsure if it was a Garden Warbler of Blackcap I padded to the bottom of the stairs and retrieved some bins. Still there for once when I returned not one, but three, Blackcaps, a male and two juveniles/females.

I thought perhaps they were feeding on insects but after a while it appeared that they might also be feeding on nectar from the cotoneaster flowers as they all repeatedly dipped their bills deftly inside the small pink and white blooms. First time I have seen this in Blackcaps though they are cited in BWP as feeding on nectar in Spring and Winter in the Med.

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Domestic duties left little time for birding this morning and I guess no one's interested in my Lapwing and Cormorant counts so 16 Mediterranean Gulls (no juveniles) in the south bay at Newbiggin whilst trying to string several large floating branches flushed out by the high tides into Basking Sharks, was the only other noteworthy event to reach my notebook.
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An email from Alistair Smith this evening regarding a colour-ringed Sandwich Tern that I observed at North Blyth Staithes on 2nd August. Always interesting to know the origins of some of the birds we see locally and as I hadn't heard of any local colour-ringing on Sandwich Terns I wondered if this individual had come from further afield. Alistair wrote " it was marked at Forvie National Nature Reserve near Newburgh, Aberdeenshire in 2010.  This was one of c.300 young marked that year out of a total of c.900 young that fledged from a breeding population of c.750 pairs.I have received notification of a large number of this year classfrom both east and west coasts of the UK, Ireland and western Europe as well as some apparently spending the summer in Africa."

Just adding as I go along reading BWP that highlights that this age group, let's call it second-summer, often turn up in European Waters reaching colonies in June and some breed at this age. I remember David Steel on The Farnes referring to a second wave of late-arriving terns earlier in the year, though I can't remember which species. Maybe these second waves are all 'young' birds, first time breeders?

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