Meadow Pipits are one of our commonest passage migrants at this time of year. Their abundance is well shown by the counts at the three regularly manned Vis. Mig. stations in our area with over 12,000 being recorded in autumn last year, and as they move on a broad front, the numbers passing are obviously very large. By contrast Skylarks pass in much smaller numbers. Heysham observations in the autumn passage period show this well with 3342 Meadow Pipits counted but just 84 Skylarks.
The Group has had our best year to date for ringing Meadow Pipits with just over 800 so far, mainly at three sites. Meadow Pipits respond well to a tape lure playing the spring song. At Heysham they are mist netted in an open area with a background of bushes. Richard's team have caught them as a by-product of Swallow roost ringing in a maize field. While whoosh netting on the Morecambe Bay coast by the Keer estuary is only undertaken on days when it is not suitable for mist netting at our reed bed sites.
This year while whoosh netting we also played Skylark song as an experiment and in three morning sessions we have caught seven birds. Doesn't sound a lot but these are the first Skylarks that the Group has ringed since 1995 and in the whole of Britain in 2012 only 79 fully grown birds were ringed! You don't often ring ca 9% of the national total in three mornings! We could have at least doubled the catch if we had set two whoosh nets as birds regularly dropped and stopped behind the net.
Would be interested to know if other ringers using whoosh nets have tried to ring Skylarks.