Monday, 18 April 2016

From Siskins to Starlings

Up to a dozen Siskins are still visiting the feeders each day or perhaps I should say the peak daily count is currently 12 and has been for a few days. I don't usually get Siskins in the garden this late and for the counts to still be in low double figures makes it even more exceptional. What the daily counts don't show is the turnover and I have ringed 116 so far this month compared with 84 in March (when the peak daily counts were often much higher), 77 in February and only 6 in January. Another 23 Siskins (22 retraps and 1 control) that were ringed prior to April have been recaptured making it a total of 139 different individuals that have been handled so far this month.

Many of the Siskins ringed this month have been carrying a lot of fat and this male certainly looks plump to say the least.
I was lucky enough to get a nice sequence of shots of a different male going from an alert posture through a very upright alert posture and then back to relaxed.
The total for the year now stands at 283 and is the most I have ringed in the garden by some margin but it is a little disappointing that I have only had one control as other ringers seem to do far better in that regard, judging by various reports and blogs I have read that is. Anyway one control is better than none and hopefully it will prove to be an interesting movement.

While I have had no problem attracting Siskins to the garden the same can't be said for Redpolls. I did have 3 visiting the feeders for about a week at the end of January and I hoped that numbers would build up but there has only been the odd one since then. Why I don't do better for Redpolls is hard to understand, especially given their increasing use of garden feeders, but it continues to be one species that is still fairly uncommon in my garden.

This Redpoll was in the garden today but why don't I get more?
One species that I didn't expect to feature on the blog for a while was Blackcap but a tired and hungry looking individual found the apples today. It was quite fluffed up and didn't look in good condition when I first saw it which suggests it may have had a rough journey and exhausted its fat reserves. It certainly took a liking to the apples and fed on them regularly throughout the day and was still feeding right up to dusk.

More and more Starlings are visiting the fat cakes and I suspect some are already feeding young which is about ten days earlier than last year. I have started recording all the colour ringed birds for my RAS (retrapping adults for survival) project although the main period of the study only starts later this week and runs through to 24th of May.

Adult female Starling.
B28 is an adult male that was colour-ringed for the study last May.
I colour-ringed 123 adult Starlings in the garden during the 5 week RAS period last year and the aim is to re-sight as many as possible during the same period this year to establish the survival rate. I also need to catch and colour-ring any new (unringed) breeding adults so I have a busy few weeks coming up.

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