Friday, 31 October 2014

A Firecrest, Redwing and another American Gull - October 2014

This mornings ringing session was a very sedate affair, with only 18 birds ringed of nine species, and of those half were re-traps. But amongst the new birds there was some quality in the form of our first Firecrest and Redwing of the year. The Redwing was the first that I had heard this autumn, and given that we had another eight flying over the ringing area, there had clearly been an arrival.

Redwing, Titchfield Haven - October 2014
The Firecrest was a real cracker, as of course they always are, this bird we aged as a juvenile due to the pointed tail feathers, and a male by virtue of the amount of orange in the crown.

Juvenile Male Firecrest - Titchfield Haven
Juvenile Male Firecrest - Titchfield Haven

This was the 25th Firecrest to be caught at the Haven, the first was in 1982 and the second in 1988, with the remaining 23 caught between 2000 and 2014. Despite the status of this species as a breeder in Hampshire and regularity with which it occurs along the Hampshire coast in winter, its occurrence remains unpredictable at the Haven, as demonstrated below.

During the ringing session the other species captured were Cetti's Warbler, Robin, Blackbird, Wren, Reed Bunting, Blue Tit and a female Blackcap. A Brambling, several Linnets and Goldfinches were recorded passing over.

I have recently been given permission to ring at Walpole Park in Gosport, and will be hoping to catch and colour-ring Black-headed, Common and Mediterranean Gulls at the site. After ringing I nipped down there to see how many birds were present and how they were behaving. There were around 100 Black-headed Gulls present, a few Herring and a Common Gull.

Adult Winter Black-headed Gull - Walpole Park
Adult Winter Herring Gull - Walpole Park

Of course the star attraction at Walpole Park over the last 12 winters has been the Ring-billed Gull. It had arrived back on 26th October, and had already taken up residence in its usual place. As interesting as it would be to catch this bird, colour ring it, and see where it goes during the summer, I will not be making any attempts to catch it.

Adult Winter Ring-billed Gull

Mute Swans and Canada Geese also make the most of the food on offer at Walpole Park and whilst I was there I found three that were ringed. One bird had an orange colour ring, whereas the other two had just metal rings. The swans are so approachable that it is easy to read the ring numbers, and take close up photos. I will let you know where they are from when I find out the details.

Adult Mute Swan - Walpole Park
Adult Mute Swan wing feathers.

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