Friday, 28 November 2014

old crests

After reading that the mid-Wales ringing team were catching plenty of goldcrests, it was decided to make a late season visit to our upland conifer site at Ty Rhyg to see if the situation was the same in Pembrokeshire. Netting has been tried at this time of year in the past in 2009 and 2013 with very limited success, (catches of 0 and 1 respectively). Between 2:30 and 4:00pm 36 goldcrests were caught including an adult retrapped from 2013. The catch was almost entirely goldcrest but a reed bunting, a great spotted woodpecker and a snipe added to the variety.

1st Winter snipe - quite a few can be seen beside the tracks of the plantation

Thinking to try the same in my woodland 'garden', six acres of mainly oak and willow not far from Ty Rhyg where goldcrests can be heard daily, the result was less spectacular in terms of numbers; just 4 goldcrests were caught but it included retraps from 2011 and 2012. At 3 yrs and 4 months since being ringed as a juvenile the first of these is quite an old goldcrest, with the BTO longevity record being only 4 yrs, 2 months.

The tail of the three year old female goldcrest was surprisingly pointed
This 1st winter goldcrest has pointed tail feathers though one of the central
pair has been replaced with a blunter round-tipped feather more typical of those found on adults 

The following day, another netting attempt in the broad-leaf woodland failed to produce any goldcrests, but this was compensated for by a gorgeous 1st winter male firecrest, the only bird caught during the four-hour session and the first to be ringed at this site.

The firecrest

Monday, 17 November 2014

Busy morning

On Sunday the weather was good enough for a garden session and in just 4 hours just under 100 birds were handled.   This included 35 retraps and a control Greenfinch typically late in the morning (they never seem to be active early in the morning) and a good selection of species although too many Blue Tits!

The new birds included three with ticks - a Chaffinch and a Robin

and a cracking adult female Great Spotted Woodpecker

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Great White Snipe or Snowcock?

The first two evenings of woodcock ringing got off to a good start this autumn with a golden plover, a meadow pipit and nine woodcock ringed including this leucistic individual. At first while at quite a distance away, it stood out so much in the lamp that it looked as if it was either a barn owl or a polythene bag, but its bobbing head reduced the options to barn owl. Then when a little closer it began running through the pasture looking very woodcock-like apart from the colour. It soon settled and was duly caught, and what an amazing bird! It was assumed that it must be a first year bird as a species such as woodcock which has evolved to be so cryptically-plumaged must have very poor survival prospects when adorned with such bright colours, but the bird was almost certainly an adult based on the wear of its longest primaries, the shape of the inner primary tips and the shape of the axillaries. At 372g it was obviously very healthy and a single completely typical secondary feather appeared to be retained suggesting that the bird may have had typical plumage before moulting and developed leucism as an adult.

Paddy and Paul