At last!....after a busy work and social calendar I finally managed to get out and do some ringing, well put a net up in the garden anyway. It was a steady session that resulted in 13 birds of six species being caught. Greenfinch was the commonest species which was nice to see, since this species has been absent from the garden in the last couple of years. A single Goldfinch and a couple of Blue Tits added to the tally, as did a rather aggressive Jay. I am always careful with this species and plan my approach as they always seem to draw blood....and this bugger was no exception.
After what can only be described as a painful few moments extraction I felt was in control and so set about ageing it. Adults undergo a complete moult post breeding, whereas juveniles only a partial post juvenile moult, which means that it should be possible to see some contrast in the wing feathers. In the case of this bird the secondaries, tertials and wing coverts appeared to have been replaced; the secondaries and tertials were jet black and glossy and showed very little abrasion.
|Eurasian Jay, a stunning bird|
Whereas the primaries were dull, faded, abraded and pointed at the tip, a feature typical of a first year bird. In addition the tail feathers were not as broad as would be expected for an adult, with the 5th feather measuring only 20mm wide, when measured 40mm from the tip. The cross bars on the primary coverts, alula and outer greater coverts were more characteristic of an adult bird, but given that this part of he wing had all been moulted this was not unexpected. Therefore I aged this bird a 5, a bird that was definitely hatched in 2011.
|Eurasian Jay Wing|
The next bird out of the net was a Starling. Two pairs nest in the roof of my house, but I still don't manage to catch that many. In starlings both adult and juvenile birds undergo a complete moult in the autumn, although in adult birds this is sometimes arrested....according to my trusty Svensson that is!
Sexing this bird was fairly straight forward since this bird had a pinkish base to the bill with a pale circle around the iris. This bird also had a well formed and engorged brood patch.
|First Year Wing of Starling|
Looking at the wing, it was more typical of a species with a partial post juvenile moult, since the primaries, secondaries, tertials, primary coverts and tail feathers were all juvenile feathers, along with some of the greater coverts. The tail feathers were also broad and rounded, which is typical of juvenile feathers in the autumn for this species.
|Broad and rounded Tail of First Year Bird|
The final bird out of the net was a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker, still wearing its red crown feathers. So it looks like the local pair have successfully reared another brood, unfortunately I think the Blue Tits in my nest box were used as a protein supplement for this family!!
|Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker|
After furling the net I sat down to enjoy a relaxing glass of wine and was immediately aware of movement around the flower pots......and there was the local hedgehog pottering around in search of slugs......always a welcome visitor to my vegetable patch!