Saturday, 20 February 2016

A bit of garden ringing

I haven't been up to much in the last week as I've succumbed to a throat and chest infection that has proved to be far worse and harder to shift than the 3 or 4 day snot-fest that typifies my usual version man flu. A tight chest and the urge to cough up my lungs ensured I was up at first light yesterday morning so I decided to put up the usual 6m net in the garden as there was only a very light breeze. Moving around in the cold air actually did me a power of good and helped ease some of my symptoms, if only for a short time.

I didn't have the net up for long but I managed to catch a respectable 25 new birds and 2 retraps. Totals (retraps in brackets) were: Siskin 12; Goldfinch 7 (1); House Sparrow 3; Robin 1 (1); Song Thrush 1. Siskins were the main target and the lack of retraps shows that turnover is increasing as is to be expected with this species at this time of year. The 3 House Sparrows were the biggest surprise and are the first to be ringed in the garden this year! House Sparrows continue to decline in this area and have become irregular visitors to the garden despite the variety of food on offer.

Two of the 7 feeders that are dotted around the garden.
Messy eaters.
Sunflower hearts are often advertised as a no mess seed but both Siskins and Goldfinches leave a lot of waste when feeding on them in a garden setting. Most of the wastage is at the feeders rather than the bird table as they frequently drop seeds when removing the outer skin so simply take another. Around half of the sunflower hearts put in the feeders can end up on the ground and there aren't enough ground feeding species to clear it all up.
Male Siskin . 
Female Siskin.

House Sparrows are garden scarcity now and seem destined to become a garden rarity. They just don't seem to be able to rear enough young to sustain their population.
Goldfinches on the other hand still seem to be on the increase and are clearly benefiting from garden feeding.
Who is watching who.
The Belgian-ringed Blackcap appeared after the net had been taken down but I got enough photos to confirm the ring number again. I have heard it uttering some reasonably loud sub-song recently and on one occasion it did this in dull drizzly conditions and not sunny weather as you might expect.

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