Thursday, 7 June 2012

More garden quality...

My second ringing session of the Bank Holiday weekend (in amongst the rain and wind) turned up more quality. Having retreated to the kitchen after checking the nets, I was sitting down to a cup of tea when I heard an almighty noise coming from the garden - I knew exactly what it was....great spotted woodpecker! Sure enough, there he was, looking mightily unhappy at being denied a go at the peanut feeder. As is the case with this species, the feet were in a terrible tangle and it took me some time to extract the bird: the constant screaming most likely woke up everyone in a 200m radius.

Anyway, once safely in the hand I could take a proper look at this cracking bird. The red nape clearly identified it as a male - I had to refer to the ringing guide for ageing techniques. Essentially, as with most bird species it is the presence of feathers of different generations which assists in ageing - in this case, the mix of older, dull and brownish primary coverts amid new glossy black ones led me to age the bird as a 5 - i.e. fledged last year. 

The next few net checks turned up a trickle of blue tits - there are plenty of tits around at the moment and I suspect that several local broods are on the wing for the first time. In amongst this usual fare I had my second ever nuthatch - another piece of quality.

On taking the bird from the net, I was struck by the difference in bill length to the male I trapped previously - the bill was much less robust and I initially wondered if this was a young bird. However, on closer examination the bird had a well-developed brood patch and so was confidently sexed as a female and, given the evidence of breeding, therefore must have been fledged in 2011 or before. Given that I have now ringed a male and female, I suspect that this is the local pair which are likely nesting in the taller trees to the south of the garden.

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