Saturday, 14 April 2012

The Barley Birds are Back Again!

I spent much of yesterday morning (13th April) walking around Botley Wood in search of the first Common Nightingale of the year without success, only to hear a report of one when I got home in the evening. I had planned to ring there this morning anyway so set off early and was greeted with not one, but three singing males. Enthused by their presence I set my nets in some usual positions, but also in locations where Nightingales were singing, and was rewarded with a retrap male on my first net round. This bird was originally ringed, and colour-ringed, as a first year male on 30th May 2009, therefore it was hatched in the summer of 2008, making it nearly four years old.

Adult male Common Nightingale originally ringed on 30th May 2009
as a first year male

Whilst walking around yesterday I heard the first Willow Warbler of the year, and today I caught one. The number of breeding birds at Botley Wood has crashed in recent years so it was nice to hear that at least one bird was back! Both adult and first year Willow Warblers undergo a complete moult on there wintering grounds and therefore it is not possible to age them in the spring, but given that this bird was singing and had a 68mm wing, it was sexed as a male.

Willow Warbler

Blackcaps have been singing at Botley Wood for a few weeks now, but I have struggled to catch any, today however I did catch a male. 

First Year Male Blackcap

This bird had extremely abraded primary and tail feathers, and still had brown fringed feathers on its forehead, thereby confirming it as a first year male bird.

First Year Male Blackcap

Just as I was packing up two local birders stopped for a chat and reported two more Common Nightingales and a Common Whitethroat further along the track from me. This would take the number of singing male Nightingales to at least five, so there must have been an arrival overnight. I walked along to where they had seen their birds and did hear one, but failed to see or hear the Whitethroat. I did find another Water Shrew under a sheet of aluminium though and a couple of Mandarin Ducks were flying around.

Looks like Spring may have finally arrived at Botley Wood!!!

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