I'm just back from dropping Fabian off at the airport; I should start by saying what a pleasure it has been to have him here and — despite the weather — we've had a great week.
On Saturday we visited a few local sites in the hope of finding a flavissima Yellow Wagtail but we had no luck. Everywhere seems unnervingly quiet this spring for breeding songbirds — for example, many sites that would usually hold multiple Reed and Sedge Warblers seem to have just one or two birds.
We paid a visit to Neumann's Flash where the only bird of any real note was a Black Swan...
Yesterday we headed up to the Peak District where, after dipping them in Wales last week, we managed to find some Red Grouse — a lifer for Fabian. We wandered up onto the moor for a closer look until the heavens opened and we took shelter back in the car.
Once the rain had stopped, we walked along the river valley where we found a ('brown bellied') Dipper, a new subspecies for Fabian and a bird that's always great value to watch as it dips and dives through the rough water.
In the car park, a Lesser Redpoll showed well and a Short-eared Owl passing over was a pleasant surprise.
Back at home we set the walk-in trap in the garden and — after a lengthy period of a Woodpigeon walking round and round the trap, then poking its head into the entrance tunnel and backing out again — success!
We aged the bird as a 3+cy (EURING 6); I'll save the gory details for another day.
In the evening (after a meal of scouse to add some authenticity for Faab's visit), we headed down to Woolston where we put up a few nets. In the short time they were open we caught five birds, including a juvenile Willow Tit. Then we relaxed for the evening before camping overnight.
We started early this morning, opening all the nets; over the morning we caught 48 birds including another juvenile Willow Tit, some juvenile Wrens, Blackcaps, Common Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers, and several Bullfinches.
The trap at home continued to catch well this afternoon, admittedly mostly Feral Pigeons but also a female Blackbird, both of 'our' Robins, and a juvenile House Sparrow (quite a scarce bird in our neighbourhood, so nice to see they've bred somewhere reasonably close by).