Monday, 19 January 2015

Normal Service Resumes.

It has not been the best start to the year for me in many respects hence the absence of posts over the last couple of weeks. The weather hasn't been great for much of the time and when I have been able to get out the birding has been distinctly poor or average for the time of year. Having said that there have been a few bits and bobs of interest and I finally managed to catch a Blackcap (a male) in the garden on the 10th. This was almost certainly the bird that first appeared in the garden on the 1st and was seen regularly thereafter. The female that also appeared on the 1st didn't linger and wasn't seen subsequently. A second male Blackcap found the fat feeders on the 16th and was caught and ringed the same day so that species is not giving me the run around anymore. However the French ringed bird which evaded capture in Andy's garden appears to have moved on so that one certainly has got the better of me to say the least.

When caught this male Blackcap had much more brown in the cap than it appeared to have in the field. Interestingly the second male caught was similar in appearance.
The supply of fat cakes in the garden is also attracting a few Starlings and I have caught and colour-ringed another 10 for my RAS project. Their bill colour changes ahead of the breeding season with the bills of both sexes gradually changing from black to yellow and also turning blue at the base in males and pink at the base in females. Two of the birds caught today were well on the way to completing this transition with the male being a bit more advanced than the female. Interestingly the change from black to yellow ahead of the breeding season is quite slow and takes several months but the change from yellow to black at the end of the breeding season is fast by comparison and only takes a few weeks at most.

Male Starling showing blue base to bill.

Female Starling showing pink base to bill.
I wasn't going to put out food at any of my ringing sites this winter, other than the garden, but temptation has got the better of me. I started feeding the Crawford site towards the end of last year and it is starting to attract a good mix of birds including a small flock of Tree Sparrows, a bird I don't catch very often. A ringing session there yesterday (18/01/15) produced 37 new birds and 5 retraps from 2 nets in a visit that was hampered when freezing fog rolled in and turned the nets white. Totals with retraps in brackets were: Blackbird 8 (2), Song Thrush 2, Robin 4 (1), Greenfinch 6, Chaffinch 4, Goldfinch 2, Tree Sparrow 3, Blue Tit 7 (2), Great Tit 1.

Lastly I checked the Black-headed Gulls on the park across the road today and the German ringed bird was still present. I have now recorded this bird 37 times over the last three winters so I think we can safely say it is faithful to its wintering site.

Yet another record shot showing part of the ring number and address of the ringing scheme. This must be one of the most photographed Black-headed Gull legs and rings in the world.
Hopefully normal service has resumed and I will be back to regular blogging for the rest of the year.

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