Thursday, 9 June 2011

A Week Of Ringing

First of all, I'm going to get the negative part of this post out of the way...

Actually, I can't bring myself to write about it on here, so you will have to read about it here - would have been a patch tick!

I also dipped the Grey Plover today, looks like it departed the previous night. There was a Lesser Whitethroat though singing south of the track to Black Hole Marsh.

Ok, negativity over...

I have been an active C ringer for exactly a week now - though have restricted myself to my front garden just to see how it goes.

My front garden isn't that big, so I have only had one 20 foot net set...

The sun showing the net up nicely here - notice the 'cat scarer' on the lawn behind!

Out of the seven days, I've had a couple of full mornings with the net up, one half morning, and a couple of afternoon efforts. During this time I have trapped and ringed 57 birds - and this has included and shown some real surprises...

We've not seen a Marsh Tit in the garden for about a year, at least. So I was very surprised to be extracting one from the net at 10:10 this morning! The bird was a scuffy adult female, it had started its primary moult and had a brood patch which was just beginning to feather over. Be nice to think it had bred locally - and successfully...

What a treat!

Coal Tits have been rather scarce in the garden of late too, but I caught two within ten minutes of each other on the 6th! Both of these had also started their main moult - but these three Tits were the only adult birds I caught that had begun their post breeding moult.

For the past few months, most times I've looked out the front window there have been between one and three Bullfinches feeding on or under the feeders. So I was expecting to catch some - but I wasn't expecting to catch FIVE and still see at least THREE unringed birds still visiting the garden today! So what we thought were three birds, have actually been at least eight!!!

An adult male Bullfinch - stunning!

Goldfinch is another bird that we think there are only one or two of visiting our garden. I have only caught four, but there are still unringed birds coming in to our niger seed. I caught a pair together this morning, which offered a nice comparison of the two sexes...

Male on the left, female to the right

We haven't seen a Song Thrush in the garden since the winter. Yesterday afternoon out of the blue - I heard one, and at 07:05 this morning I caught one! She had a nice brood patch, so hopefully has some chicks in a nest somewhere near by.

So that's 13 of the birds that I've ringed, with the rest being a selection of the more usual garden critters. I just had to take a photo of this young female Greenfinch that I caught this morning....

With new ones growing!

This is a good example of how rather simple ageing techniques can become complicated! Tail shape is a good way of ageing most passerines, as young birds tend to have much more pointed tipped tail feathers than older birds. But when a young bird like this loses all its tail feathers, the feathers it grows in their place are blunt/rounded-tipped adult type feathers!

I am always impressed with the true picture that ringing shows. There arethe Bullfinches I've already mentioned, but it applies to the even commoner garden birds too.

How many people look out into their garden, see a Blackbird and think 'oh - there's the Blackbird collecting food for his/hers youngsters again'... I've caught two adult female Blackbirds in the front garden so far, and this afternoon there was an unringed female Blackbird picking around for food on the front lawn! Daily we grossly underestimate bird numbers - and ringing proves that so well.

Right I must go to sleep now, I have a Starling to look for in the morning....


  1. What a fantastic experience,to hold a life in your hands.

  2. It is John, every bird I hold whether it is a Bullfinch or a Dunnock - i feel so privileged to have it in my hand.