Thursday, 11 February 2016

Short and sweet

Much improved and calm weather allowed me to get a net up in the garden early this morning, although I did have to wait for a shower to pass through just after dawn. There was quite a chorus of chattering Siskins and Goldfinches waiting to come down to the feeders as I put up the 6m net and I only had to wait a few minutes before the first 8 birds were caught. These were duly extracted and ringed by which time the next batch were ready to be extracted. A busy hour produced 21 new birds and 3 retraps as follows: Siskin 12 (1); Goldfinch 8 (1), Blackbird 1 (1). I took the net down after an hour as the sun was breaking through and starting to shine on the net plus shorter ringing sessions can be more productive in the long run when it comes to regular garden ringing.

Male Siskin
Female Siskin
Siskin numbers are starting to increase and this should continue into March.
The Goldfinches showed some interesting variation in the extent of the red mask with a female having more extensive red behind the eye than one of the adult males. Having said that the male did have a more extensive red bib below the bill as can be seen in the photos below. There are other differences in terms of the intensity of the red, colour of rear crown and the size of the bill that make the birds look very different but just in terms of that easily misinterpreted and misunderstood 'red behind the eye' the female wins by some margin.

Male Goldfinch with very little of the red mask extending behind the eye compared to the female below.
Female Goldfinch with the red of the mask extending well behind the eye and far more than the male above.
After the net came down the Belgian-ringed Blackcap appeared and happily fed on the fat cakes at the same time as a Starling. Hopefully it won't be too long before I get the details of when and where it was ringed from the BTO.

A not very good photo taken through a window against the light but it does show that the Blackcap is quite bold and happy to feed fairly close to a Starling.

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