27 Aug 2014

More from Hilbre & a few hours in the garden.

Waking up to an unusual noise outside at first light my mind was still in sleep mode and it took me a few seconds to register that the raucous noise outside our window was in fact a Rose-ringed Parakeet! It was in the trees adjacent to the garden and was there for about 10 minutes before flying off. A nice surprise during what has been a generally quiet August locally.

I spent most of the weekend inside painting but managed a few hours ringing in the garden Sunday afternoon. This was very successful with 20 new birds being ringed and the majority were finches with 7 Goldfinches and three Greenfinches being ringed. Only one re-trap was caught - an adult male Goldfinch I first caught in October 2012. This was the only adult. All the others were juveniles in various states of post juvenile moult. Some were in completely juvenile plumage and some, like the one below, were just moulting their heads to attain the adults red crown feathers.

The juvenile bird below has still got all its buff-tipped juvenile greater coverts whereas some had already moulted the majority leaving just the outer ones recognisable as juvenile.
One of the Greenfinches was interesting. Its known that a small percentage of this species do moult some of their primaries during the post juvenile moult but this is the first time I've come across one with such an extensive moult of greater and primary coverts and the inner primaries!

More typical was the adult male undergoing its full post breeding moult.
This bird had also been making good use of the plentiful supply of Blackberries and Elderberries locally and was probably attracted to the sunflower hearts for a bit of variety.
Star of the day however was this adult male Nuthatch that had almost completed its post breeding moult and looked stunning in the late afternoon sunshine. Note the paint on the ringers fingers!
 Garage ringing station:
With an easterly bias to the wind forecast Bank Holiday Monday plans were made to meet up with Steve and venture out to Hilbre. Unfortunately heavy overnight rain put paid to much migration but there was a small passage of Robins with 5 new birds on the island of which 3 were caught and ringed.  With the island very quiet and not much happening seabird wise  we left just before high tide at 10 am which gave me an opportunity to walk around my local fields. Nothing! The best bird was a single Yellowhammer. I couldn't even find a Blackcap or Whitethroat feeding up on the blackberries. I did find this caterpillar though which was later identified as a Buff-tip moth caterpillar.
 The adults (this is one I caught in the garden whilst moth trapping a few years ago) resemble a dead birch twig - or a cigarette butt!

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