Greenlanders Hi Mick Very Many thanks for this Mick, sure it will help us all. It certainly helped me last year when I began to get a real grasp and even a few photos, albeit, very poor (might do better this year?), but that is what you need to do to get it in to your mind. I agree Mick, you’ve just got to let a lot of em go, but its all good training and like you Mick I believe there are many more than actually get recorded (my own experience – I’ve never claimed one - even though I know I've had em).
For those that don’t know, Mick is one of our original resident ID experts, now living away from the area – its amazing what the internet can do, to help people to keep in touch. Mick was one of the founder members of the Bradford OG way back in 1987, so he knows Bradford like the back of his hand!! Dave.
----- Original Message ----- From: Mick Cunningham To: David Barker Sent: Monday, April 11, 2005 8:43 AM Subject: Identifying Greenland Wheatears amongst the Bradford 800 Hi Everyone Over the last couple of years I have noticed that a lot of the later Wheateras we get show characterisitics of Greenland Wheatear. This is especially so of later arrivals i.e. those due through later in April and into May. So, if you're going to get 800+ birds again this year, it could be worth checking these.
Firstly, a word of caution. There will be lots of individuals we can't tell because some are indistinguishable and good views are needed, uually with a scope. Also, there are intergrades. Still, the fact that we can't separate these doesn't mean we shouldn't note the ones we can. Importantly, you need to know how to age birds - it's easy once known, especially with males. Male adults have new wings so the ground colour of coverts and flight feathers is black; as black as the face mask. Often these new wings have crisp rusty fringes. 1st Summer males' wings have a worn dull brown ground colour - browner than the face mask and without crisp rusty fringes. Don't confuse this old completely brown wings with the rusty fringing on adults' new wings. The same applies to females though of course the face mask trick doesn't apply.
All this racial ID can be a bit tentative at first but here's what I do.
Worth a look are 'big',buffy, pot-bellied birds with obscene looking pinky fronts extendingfar down flanks and, especially, towards belly between legs - AND a brown suffusion to upperparts, even in full adults. Nominate Northern's are 'less bulky', and pale silvery grey above with amore limited peach bib below that doesn't extend far down and so it has whiter belly and lower flanks.
Greenlands often look short-tailed because the longer wing invades the black tail tip to about 1/4-1/2. Northern's wings don't invade black of tail tip so much and so their tail looks longer.
CRITICALLY - and an absolute must, is the number of primary tips visible in the primaryprojection. There are 5 on Northern and 6 (7 just?) on Greenland. Hence the long wingthat ringers get. You need to see the birds back on and still, and need to use a scope or a digicamera.
If I get all of these features, I say 'showing characters of' Greenland. If not I let them go.
Sceptics said none of this was possible in the field but I was seeing Greenlands at the same time as ringers caught them at e.g. Wintersett Res. Also, have a look at the BTO migrant atlas and note what it says about flockingbehaviour of Greenland Wheatears,their migration route and their stopover strategy as compared to Northen. It'll prove v interesting because it says they come up the west coast in April-May and feed up/flock prior to setting off accross the sea off the West Coast. I think we get these birds when they're pushed over the Pennine spine by westerlies. Have fun! Mick
Members only watchpoint 11-04-2005 Monday 11th April 2005 0820 – 1100hr Weather and Sky: A deteriorating, yet improving morning, with virtually clear skies overdrawing, but with cloudbase lifting locally, visibility increasing dramatically with rising wind and warm temperature continuing to rise. Wind: W F2 initially @ 0645, and similar @ 0830hr but increasing W F3 by1000hr and finally W F5 by 1050hr. Temp: initially 7 dp 6 @ 0645, becoming 9 dp 6 by 0830 and 10 (8.5 @ wp) dp 5 by 1000hr, with final readings 11 (10@ wp) dp 3 @ 1100. Visibility: initially 10km max NW (cloud block over Jacksons Ridge and Keighley Moor and much fractus over western moors), 64km max E (Drax, upper Humber), increasing to 60km+ NNW (Leck Fells), 90km max NE (Cleveland Hills), 102km+ E (Humber Bridge), 116km ESE (Lincolnshire Wolds) by 1030 and remaining similar. Cloud: initially altocumulus with lower fractus 2ok @ 0645, increasing low scud, stratocumulus, altocumulus all more especially to west, with brighter alto cu and much less stratocumulus to east by 0830hr total 7ok. Cloudbase lifting locally by 0930hr, gradually becoming lower and deeper stratocumulus to east but with clearer sky and less alto cu to west total 4ok (with open areas to west). Pressure: more of less static over night with 1027 throughout the morning. Just out of interest and for future reference the sunrise time today was 0616hr (GPS). From first fresh air at 0755hr, whilst stacking the car, whilst none were seen, moving mipits were heard in the sky over home (quite unusual for here!). Whilst in the car and driving to the watchpoint, mipits (at least two parties) were noted in the sky and going north across the open moor and in-bye to the east of the Dog and Gun. Whilst opening the bottom gate, what I first considered to be a large group of c35 were over head and going north, other groups were seen crossing the access road……….. By the time I had reached the carpark, it was very obvious this was no ordinary "move" with probably about 150 clocked up already – and I was kicking myself for not getting out sooner! Once at the watchpoint, set up and weather readings taken, the broad front of the wave could be appreciated. Mipits in all directions and at ranges, as far as the scope could resolve were flooding NNW. It was obvious that the move had not just started and that many would already have been missed. Many were higher than would have been expected, suggesting they had been going for a while? Some were cutting through the scud below and others up to just below the cloudbase, estimated to be locally at c 2000ft asl (with much lower scud sometimes down to ground), but much higher further east and north. Some of the birds out to the N and E were therefore much higher, where there was more flexibility. Birds were coming through the cols to the east and west of the watchpoint as well as over the ridge to the south. I addition there was a distinct broad stream seemingly following the line of the NE flank of the watershed about 2000m out over the lower land, these were possibly going a bit more NW. All( or most) were striking out very high over the valley to the NW As yesterday a sight line back along the track of the ones on approach and passing overhead came form the general direction of the Emley Moor TV transmitter mast and possibly just a bit south of it but this might just have been local orientation. Every scopefull had birds and not just a few, a scenario that those having seen the equivalent autumn waves will be very familiar with. The largest counted group was c95 but this is not really realistic as for some of the time at peak, the groups just merged into a continuous passage, not easily splitable, but the scan had to stop somewhere. The major problem with situations like this is that one person just cant look everywhere – more observers were needed today, and with a full team, of pointers and shouters (not to parallel with shooters and beaters), some doing scope scans, some with bins and then the ones overhead, perhaps twice as many would have been counted. It was however most surprising how quickly the move tailed off, possibly something to do with the wind picking up to F5+, but that’s just a guess. The other birds along with this move were also in inflated numbers but sorry, no time for descriptions now, it will have to suffice just to list on this occasion.
My apologies for ringing round and leaving so many voicemail messages, but nobody would answer!. In the event I only managed to raise Brian Sumner, Brian Vicers and Keith Clarkson, with hope that someone might be able to put an early message on the net or ring round or something – just like the old days but by that time the battery in my phone would only allow 30secs of conversation before cutting off (sorry about that Keith) and then flat.
Hope all this lot makes sence as have not had time to read it back thoroughly!
Meadow Pipit counts. Each count applies to the fifteen minutes before the stated time. 0830hr not counted properly – more detail later. 0845hr 443 0900hr 518 0915hr 213 (birds lost to time on telephone) 0930hr 469 0945hr 123 1000hr 68 1015hr 25 1030hr 16 1045hr 6 1100hr 3 Total mipits 1902 > NNW
Moving Birds: Meadow Pipit 1902 > NNWapx Skylark 43 > W – N Greylag Goose 2 > SE (local) Oystercatcher 2 > SE Alba 16 > N – NW Swallow 22 > N ish Sand Martin 4 Hirundines others (quite a few) Stock Dove 4 > W LBB Gull 6+ > NW, just started to come when stopping counting)
Mipit Wave 11-04-2005 (members only watchpoint) If I could have forecast this for certain, I would have been out two hours sooner – still, that’s the excitement of the vis!!
Full report will follow this evening.
Meadow Pipit counts. Each count applies to the fifteen minutes before the stated time.
0830hr not counted properly – more detail later. 0845hr 443 0900hr 518 0915hr 213 (birds lost to time on telephone) 0930hr 469 0945hr 123 1000hr 68 1015hr 25 1030hr 16 1045hr 6 1100hr 3 Total mipits 1902 > NNW
This is a minimum count, if two observers had been doing it there would have been almost as many again!! Just impossible for one person to count!! Thanks and sorry to disturb all those who might pick up early messages from me on voicemail about this. More details later, off to work now…………. Good to see you out in the field Bryan and good you got some of this wave. Dave.