CHAFFINCH – Exceptionally large numbers overwintering in Dalton Crags

CHAFFINCH – Exceptionally large numbers overwintering in Dalton Crags

16/01/2020 0 By wildfeed

Some recent Blogs with quick links:- 

Chaffinch

(Thanks to Tony for sharing)

Chaffinch

Hutton Roof
and especially Dalton Crags are nationally superb for Chaffinch numbers passing
through on migration and not only that we have the added bonus of many
continental and regional birds stopping off to overwinter in Dalton Crags
itself.
Today (13th
January 2020) I witnessed something special: Most winters I see a nice
Chaffinch collective usually around the back of Plain Quarry in Dalton Crags,
with numbers averaging around the 200 birds, usually you will also see
Brambling amongst them.  But it was a lot
different today with a colossal 2000 birds which could well have been on the
way up to 3000 individuals.
I arrived at
Plain Quarry at about 0910hrs and immediately noticed flying above me large
parties of Chaffinch ranging from 30 to 100 birds and most of the parties
averaged about 50-75 birds per party, the parties just kept on coming over
heading from West to East and this went on for at least 20 minutes or so. I am
sure the birds were just moving from one part of the Crags from points they
will have been roosting to a few hundred yards further east of the Crags were I
guess they chose for feeding.
I decided to
walk in the direction they went and soon I found them with birds just
everywhere flitting at all levels of the trees, I listened carefully but could
not detect any Brambling amongst them, they all seem to be represented by the
regular chup contact calls. I can’t say I have ever seen so many Chaffinch
concentrated into a radius of only a few hundred yards. What had brought so
many birds to this locality, was there good feed?
Yes the
beech mast has had a phenomenal year and we have a considerable amount of beech
trees in the Dalton Crag area, I am sure this will have led to this year’s
Chaffinch explosion!
Like I said
earlier this whole area is a great spot for passing Chaffinch on their autumn/winter
migrations when in most years I will record between 11000 and 13000 birds
passing directly through the area between the months of September to November,
and that is only what I am managing to record over the 3 or 4 hours a day
whilst I am present, but besides this they are going through all day long.  These counts are within a strict corridor of
which I can observe, but they are also coming through further down in Burton In
Kendal village almost following the motorway and again heading South, hundreds
or should I say thousands will take on this particular passage as well as the
one I check out.
I guess if I
was to take a reasonable guess to how many birds goes through this are every year
I would not be far out with an estimate of some 50000 to 75000 birds each
Autumn.
Not that it’s
necessary to compare and the data is far from incomplete on a national basis
but in all the UK the only area that gets more Chaffinch than us is Hunstanton
in Norfolk! (that’s per Trektellen records)
So is it any
wonder we are getting all these fantastic birds. By the way I am seeing a
regular Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Buzzard in attendance.
A bonus has
included: a party of 30 Siskin, Greenfinch, Bullfinch, 50 Redwing, 20
Fieldfare, 300 Woodpigeon and lots of tits, robins and wrens…..