The weather forecast today looked excellent for bird ringing, so with activities at Titchfield Haven now concluded, it was back to Manor Farm Country Park. The session began pre-dawn to set the nets, and given the recent influx of Redwing, I decided to target this species. I could hear Redwing calling as we arrived, but as dawn broke the two most notable species were Eurasian Blackbird and Fieldfare, with at least 20 and 40 present, respectively. A mixed flock of finches, which consisted of 80+ Linnet, 20 Greenfinch and 10 Eurasian Goldfinch was also present.
Each net round produced an interesting selection of birds, and by the end we had captured 44 birds, of which 39 were new birds and five were retraps. The total included three Wrens, two Dunnocks, four each of Robin, Blue and Great Tit and single Pied Wagtail, Goldcrest, House Sparrow, Greenfinch and Bullfinch.
Two Redwing were a nice reward for my efforts and the first of the autumn. Winter thrushes are such good looking birds with their black and yellow bills and colourful plumage. The underwing coverts and flanks of Redwing are not usually seen in the field but are striking in the hand.
As luck would have it, one adult and one juvenile bird was captured today, thereby providing an excellent opportunity to show the differences in plumage. Adult birds undergo a summer complete moult, whereas juvenile undergo a partial moult, and therefore like many passerines it is possible to age birds in the autumn by the presence of retained juvenile feathers.
|Juvenile Redwing Wing|
In the case of juvenile Redwings, the combination of un-moulted pale tipped greater coverts and tertials and pointed tail feathers make identifying juveniles relatively straight forward.....
|Juvenile Redwing Tail|
|Adult Redwing Wing|
......with the virtually unmarked greater coverts and tertials and rounded tail feathers, easily identifying adult birds. But it is not always that straight forward!
|Adult Redwing Tail|
Eurasian Blackbird was the most common species captured, with six new birds and two retraps captured. One of the retraps was an adult bird which was originally captured on 23rd December 2005, 5 years 332 days previously, and it was aged as an adult then! This was the first retrap of this bird since its original capture. The other retrap was first captured in April 2010, and has been retrapped four times since its original capture.
Whilst doing the net rounds I noticed where the mixed flock of finches were feeding so quickly put up a line of three single shelf nets. The result was seven Linnets, two Goldfinch's, one Greenfinch and a couple of Dunnocks.
Three surprise captures though were two Common Starlings and a Black-billed Magpie. The Starlings were both aged as juveniles, as was the Magpie.
|Juvenile Black-billed Magpie|
The Magpie was aged by the shape and extent of black on the first and second primaries; in juvenile birds the amount of black covers at least the outer third of the feather, as seen below.
|Juvenile Black-billed Magpie Wing|
By the end of the session we had captured 16 different species, which had made the morning very interesting, lets hope the rest of the winter is as varied.