Finchy Fings

A grey, overcast sky lay heavy over the farm, threatening yet more rain that had deluged the country over the last week or so. The wind had a cold, damp chill to it… it felt like February; it is in fact the end of April.

Just as strange as the weather, was the number and activity level of finches at Lodge Farm, in Thetford Forest. Usually by this time of year, numbers of finches have dropped as birds head off to breed. Some siskins remain in the Forest, but the lesser redpolls and brambling head off North to breed in Scotland and on the continent. This year however large groups of these two have still been coming to the feeders during April, joining families of crossbill and siskins. Eager to get an idea of what is going on we headed off for another ringing session this morning, hoping to beat the rain.
 
Adult male siskin
Adult female siskin
Juvenile Siskin

As the grey dawn broke, the sound of hundreds of finches called from the tops of trees, waiting to pile into the feeders. Even before the last net was set we had already caught thirty of so birds and as the morning progressed the birds kept coming. The only species missing were the bramblings having perhaps finally had enough of the damp, English winter and spring! Finally the rain came, pattering on the polytunnel and splashing in the pond. Still the birds came, but with the rain not easing we closed the nets.

The final total… 252 birds including 130 new birds, predominantly made up of siskins, greenfinches and lesser redpolls. Both siskin and greenfinch adults showed clear signs of breeding and there were recently fledged siskins darting around as proof. The lesser redpolls on the other hand…just fuelling up for the long trip north…


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