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.