Sunday, 17 February 2013

At Last - Back Ringing at Manor Farm CP

Finally, after what seems to have been an age, the conditions were right for some bird ringing.  I was going to be light-handed, and the two helpers were relatively inexperianced, one trainee (Mark) and one on his first ever bird ringing session (Chris), so I only put up three nets. My plan was to site the nets so that they would provide a good range of species, but not the volume.

The day started well with the first bird being a first year song thrush, and the next two being two adult redwings. Blue tit, wren and robin, a retrap from 2 years 44 days previously, followed, and then a couple of blackbirds, of which one was an adult male, the other a first winter female. Two more blackbirds followed, another adult male and a first year female, before we caught our first goldcrest. So far this year I have only retrapped previously captured birds and Manor Farm, but today there were two new birds and one retrap. The retrap was another old bird, an adult male, that was previously caught as first year male in November 2010, 2 years and 58 days previously.Out of interest the oldest retrap I have recorded for this species is 3 years 45 days, this bird was also captured at Manor Farm.

A couple more robins, a great tit and three house sparrows, two new and one retrap, later and we were done. We ended the session having captured 26 birds of nine species. Mark was able to ring all the birds, except that is the house sparrows since they needed colour-ringing as part of my RAS project. Whereas Chris was able to see first hand, what bird ringing was all about, how to age and sex a range of species and see first hand the effort required if he wants to take up bird ringing.

Later in the afternoon I opened a net in the garden for a couple of hours. There was not too much going on, but I did catch a retrap blue tit, that was first ringed 2 years and 59 days previously, and a new goldfinch.

First year Female Goldfinch - the white nasal feathers at the base of the bill and the extent to
which the red feathers above the eye extend beyond the eye (or not tin this case), were the features used for sexing.

The bird was evidently a first year female, which was sexed by the white nasal feathers at the base of the bill, and the fact that the red feathers above the eye do not extend past the eye.

Abraded Goldfinch Primary Tips

Ageing this bird was achieved by the presence of one old greater covert (retained juvenile feather), abraded tips to the primaries, and the pointed and abraded tail feathers. 

Pointed and Abraded Goldfinch Tail Feathers

Finally I wanted to say thanks to Mark and Chris for their help today, and welcome Chris to the ringing scheme, since after his first experience he has confirmed that bird ringing is something that he wants to learn, so a welcome new pair of hands to help in the future.

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