Sunday, 13 April 2014

Botley Wood Bird Ringing - April 2014

It was a dawn start this morning with the first proper ringing session of the year at Botley Wood. I say first proper session because we have done some ringing but that only involved a couple nets, that we put up whilst cutting in net rides. Over the last few days there has been a mass arrival of migrants nationally, but this has not been reflected during my visits to Botley Wood, where only a few blackcaps and chiffchaffs have been evident.

We put five nets up in total all along the main access road. This area used to be the best place to catch common nightingales, but as a result of extreme habitat management when the overhead cables were replaced, the last two years have seen none there. There have already been a couple of nightingales reported in the country so I was hopefully optimistic that one would have arrived but not expecting it.

Male Blackcap - One of 12 new birds ringed at Botley Wood

As it turned out my optimism wasn't rewarded and we didn't catch any nightingales, but we did catch good numbers of blackcaps. There were a few blackcaps singing when we arrived so we expected to catch a few, but 12 birds surpassed that expectation by a long way. The twelve birds were made up of seven males and five females, and a mix of adult and first year birds. The first year birds were aged by the presence of retained juvenile greater coverts. Brown in the crown of males, pointed tail feathers and extent of abrasion on wing and tails feathers are also ageing criteria, but I would not use these features in isolation.

The only other migrant species trapped were two chiffchaffs, one male, which was sexed by virtue of a long maximum wing chord (64mm) and the fact that it sang as soon as it was released. The other was probably a female since its maximum wing chord was 55mm.

We also trapped plenty of resident species including wren (2), great tit (3), blue tit (14), a dunnock, coal tit (4), long-tailed tit (2) and a robin. The final total was 41 birds of nine species, which is the best session total we have had at Botley Wood for a few years.

Four new Coal Tits were ringed, two pairs. All of the Coal Tits were age
code five, so hatched last year.

Each Coal Tit was aged by the presence of retained juvenile greater coverts.
These were identified due to a contrast in the colouration of the leading edge of
 the greater coverts. In retained juvenile feathers the leading edge is dull
brown in colour but grey on the adult feathers, as above.

Other species recorded during the ringing session included two ravens, goldcrest, bullfinch, blackbird, goldfinch and a siskin. 

1 comment:

  1. Interesting read as usual Trev, hope you're feeling better.


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