Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The First Common Nightingale of the Year - April 2014

I had a spare couple of hours last night (28th April) and so headed down to Botley Wood with Mark Cutts in the hope of catching my first common nightingale of the year. We headed to an area where I had seen an un-ringed male bird that appeared to be already paired, back on the 24th April. A bird was singing as we arrived, but much further back in the vegetation than I had seen it, but given my experiences last year, I presumed it was the same bird. Last year I had ringed a new male at this location and had colour-ringed it, so it was slightly disappointing that it had not returned. We put up a couple of nets, and almost on command the male bird flew back to the main track, where one of our nets was, and began to sing. The bird was very excited and singing in full view before heading down the hedge and straight into our other net.

First year male Common Nightingale - Botley Wood

The bird was un-ringed and therefore was presumably the bird I had seen a few days before. It was first year bird (hatched last year) which was immediately evident due to the pale tips to five old greater coverts, the primary coverts (see below) and the tertials.

Pale tips visible on outer five greater coverts and tips of primary coverts

The BTO have recently changed the ring sizes for some species. Previously adult birds were ringed with an A size and pullus with a B size, now A and B can be used for adult birds. I have often felt that an A ring was a little too small, and this was the case for this bird too so I opted for a B. The only annoying thing was that in my haste to get out I forgot to pack my colour rings, that will have to wait until next time.

This year looks like it might be quite a good one, since I personally have recorded five singing males so far and have heard of two others, so hopefully some got re-traps among them.

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