Sunday, 2 February 2014

A day of Goldfinch, Redpoll and Siskin

The weather forecast for today was not good as usual, with high winds, low temperatures and rain. It couldn't have been more different. It was calm with the occasional sunshine popping through the clouds lifting the air temperature. This lasted to midday when the actual weather changed to that of the forecast. So I am glad to be writing this blog as it was totally unexpected.

In part of my garden I have a small lawn with feeders either side of it and the birds fly between the feeders and are intercepted by the 30ft net I use. There has been a considerable increase in the number of Goldfinch and Siskin and also the odd Redpoll feeding on the Niger seed. When I ring in the garden the Blue tits become a nuisance and are about 50% of the birds I catch. Today I tried something different. I only used the Niger seed feeders, completely removing the Sunflower Hearts and the Peanut feeder was placed about 20 metres further up the garden which the Blue tits found very quickly keeping them away from the net. The result was about 25% of the birds I caught today were tits which was considerable improvement than before.

The Goldfinch was aged as a 5 (juvenile) and is a male. The first criteria was the outer pairs of tail feathers were pointed and abraded.

One of the other criteria for ageing a first year bird is that frequently 1-5 outer greater coverts are unmoulted. They are shorter than moulted GC's and tipped a yellowish white which contrasts with the inner moulted yellow GC's If you look closely at the picture above you can clearly see there are 4 outer unmoulted coverts.

I have mentioned before that I am interested in trying to establish the population size of Marsh tits in my area to see if there is any merit in applying to the BTO to set up a RAS project, see details here

This year I have got plenty of nest boxes to put up in all the woodland that surround me and I look forward to seeing the results of this in early summer. In the mean time I think this Marsh tit above is bird number 12 to be ringed in my garden.

Coal tits are far more common than Marsh tits but nice to catch nevertheless.

Finally this fine looking male Siskin was one of 14 birds. I had a possible control Siskin with ring number D334377. This ring as far as I am aware is not a ring number of anyone in the Gower Ringing Group to which I am a member.

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