Saturday, 28 September 2019

LINNETS - EXTROADINARY NUMBERS in 2019 VISMIG also FAT HEN and other Notes eg: 2020 etc

Photo: Thanks to Craig Bell

It's been really puzzling about the large quantities of Linnets I have had in recent days whilst doing my vismig counts from Vicarage Lane in Burton. In normal years I guess I would get about 20 Linnets during a daily a count at the very best, although this usually all changes when it gets to the middle of October and then the daily counts can get to four score or even above the 100 mark!
But what is remarkable about this year is that I have been getting regular daily counts over two hundred since about the 16th of September with 5 counts of over 500 plus between the 21st and the 24th of the month, in fact the count had risen to 896 on the 24th and 655 by the 25th.  These extroadinary numbers I must say have had me wondering what is going on! I have mentioned it to others and some have suggested that a local food source may be enticing the birds, another suggestion is that maybe a new roost has formed and that we are getting birds from this.
In my own mind I am now clear that the majority of the birds have without doubt been passing through the area directly on a regular migration line, although I have been suspect about 100 birds which seem to have remained local and can be seen blogging for the past few days.
I have checked all the fields looking for any enticing crops and have managed to find two things which could well be tempting some of the blogging birds to feed up on, although the bulk of the birds are seen to pass directly through our area totally ignoring any food crops or such. The crops which could be of interest to the bloggers are Fat Hen (Chenopodium album) and possibly the 'bolters' within the fodder beet (Beta vulgaris).  I can show photographs below of the crops.  The Fat Hen do look very much like a millett type of food, yet to me look very much unripened at the seed heads, whether this makes a difference or not! (see photos below)
The roosting theory does not uphold having checked out the areas later in the day and nothing is apertaining.
After noting high Linnet numbers at both Long Nab, Burniston, N. Yorks on 12th September 2019 with 434 birds and at Spurn on 26th September 2019 with 759 birds. Having been unclear to what was going on I can now get some sort of comfort knowing that at least other areas have also been getting large numbers of Linnets as well. 
I guess I am still left with the following question.  But why all of a sudden as this happened when its never been recorded previously in the past ten years? 

Sept 12th - 29 birds - Wind direction SE
Sept 13th - 45 birds - Wind: NW
Sept 14th - 119 birds - Wind: SE
Sept 15th - 25 birds - Wind: SW
Sept 16th - 206 birds - Wind: E
Sept 17th - 99 birds - Wind: NW
Sept 18th - 257 birds - Wind: E
Sept 19th - 124 birds - Wind: E
Sept 20th - 94 birds - Wind: E
Sept 21st - 500 birds - Wind: E
Sept 22nd - 579 birds - Wind: E
Sept 23rd - 573 birds - Wind: SW
Sept 24th - 896 - Wind: E
Sept 25th - 655 - Wind: E
Sept 26th - 270 - Wind: SW
Sept 27th - 306 - Wind: SW
Sept 28th - 82 - Wind: WSW
Sept 29th - 32 - Wind E
Sept 30th - 150 - Wind W
Oct 1st - 108 - Wind E
Oct 2nd - 34 - Wind N
Oct 3rd - 128 - Wind E

It's now early January 2020 and most of the fodder beet has now been harvested.  I am still witnessing up to 200 flocked Linnets in the local area which corresponds to similar numbers previously recorded during January 2019. This over wintering of Linnets in the area was not recorded prior to the more recent growing of fodder beet and its associates (Fat Hen etc) which has obviously been the attraction for these birds to overwinter here.

 This is a Bolter in the Fodder Beat which also contains seeds
Photo: Sept 23rd 2019 (Click over to enlarge)

This is Fat Hen (Chenopodium album) which does have a look of Millet
Photo: 23rd Sept 2019

This is Fat Hen (Chenopodium album) which does have a look of Millet
Photo: 23rd Sept 2019

 Fodder Beet Bolters
2nd October 2019

 Fodder Beet Bolters - Look at bottom section for mature seed
2nd October 2019

Fodder Beet Bolters
2nd October 2019

(26th November 2020) Again in 2020 I have had good numbers of Linnets passing through yet probably around 3/4 of what I had last year (2019).  So far recorded on Autumn migration through Burton In Kendal is around the 8000 mark compared to 12000 in 2019 although I have not finished yet.

There are small parties from less than ten to anywhere up to a fifty or so which come at regular intervals throughout the day, although I am only recording what comes through over a hour or more each morning, although I have on the odd occasion when going for a late afternoon walk witnessed them as late as 1700 hours and still going through to a South East direction.

It is worth me mentioning that whatever I do get in numbers at Vicarage Lane, Burton, it is probably only a small proportion of the far larger amount that must go through the area as a whole (eg: Farleton, Hutton Roof and Burton In Kendal).  I have had several experiences in the past were I have been doing some work on Hutton Roof, and whilst having a brew on a high point area which lies slightly to the south of Kelker Well, I have witnessed several parties of Linnets going through to the South on migration over a period of time of about 30 minutes (Aug to Oct).  I have also in past years been heading over Uberash Roughs and also Burton Fell and again had parties of Linnets going through to the South on migration - so this proves there must be a massive broad front over the whole area with this species. Although I am unaware of anyone else closeby recording such high numbers.

Another interesting note is that we do nowadays have a local wintering flock of about 200 birds which can be seen in the area. 

The Linnet - My Migration Notes

This little bird is always in a hurry dashing here there and everywhere,
not like the Chaffinches who can be slow at times or fast at others.
The linnet nearly always flies low - not high like the Chaffinch.
They fly different to the Goldfinches, who are always in a very tight ball,
and the Goldfinch do more quick bobbing in their flight
The Linnet does bobbing in its flight but more spaced on the length than the Goldfinch.
If you see a large party of finches silently passing you there is every chance they will be Linnet (sometimes called the silent chaffinch). 
The Linnet practice togetherness and can be like bullets, whereby Chaffinch are more spaced out and do less bobbing in their flight. 

Its also interesting to realize that feeding parties or wintering birds do prefer to feed in fields that have already been harvested (eg which had fodder beet with fat hen etc) and obviously after harvesting they will have their waste spread along the floor with spent seed etc) and in wide open areas, although occasionally they will feed within a pre-harvested (covered in) field which still has its seeds in upright positioned flowers (fat hen) etc.  Although Chaffinch will use both on a regular basis, but for some reason the Linnets prefer the openess.