11 Feb 2015

Back ringing at Burton

Our usual winter ringing sessions at Burton were delayed post Christmas due to the poor weather. With the weather looking more favourable and with Barry's agreement, John arranged for us all to meet before dawn! It was a good turnout with trainees Helen, Jack & Scott being supervised by John and assisted by Colin & myself. Holly joined us later to get a taster session of what ringing was about.

We had a reasonable day with 129 birds processed including some interesting re-traps. One of which was a female Nuthatch first ringed in 2013, so of a known age, that appears to have missed moulting post breeding in 2014. It was a good lesson for all of us as without knowledge of when this bird was ringed it might easily have been recorded as a 2nd calender year bird. However, the amount of bleaching and wear on the feathers suggested they were much older than expected. Interestingly this bird was small when first ringed with a wing of 80 mm. Because of the wear the wing length now was only 79 mm. Svensson states females of the British subspecies caesia have a wing length of between 81 -87 mm. Maybe this was a runt bird and this somehow has affected its health in such away to stop it moulting? David Norman caught a similar bird in Cheshire back in 2003.

As you can see from the above photos the wings and tail are extremely faded and abraded - far more than would be expected if the bird had complete a post breeding moult in 2014 and far more than you'd even expect to see in a juvenile fledged in 2014.

We  don't catch Blackbirds at Barry's every session so catching 6 in one day was a bit of a surprise.
Adult male Blackbird in at least its 3rd calendar year (Euring 6).
 The photo below shows two female Blackbird wings. The one nearest the camera is easily aged as a 2nd calendar year bird (Euring 5) by the moult contrast in the greater coverts with the 5 outer ones being retained juvenile feathers.

Surprisingly few finches were caught but it was nice to catch a new male Bullfinch and several Greenfinches including this cracking adult male below.

Another good catch was this Wren. Commonly seen but seldom caught at this site.

We also caught a few of these:

Beautiful little birds and as adults and juveniles both undergo a full moult after fledging / breeding we couldn't age them beyond definitely not being born this year or Euring 4. I remember in the 70's when some research was done to see if eye ring colour could be used for ageing and we recorded this on all Long-tailed Tits caught only to find it changed from day to day!

A great day with 12 different species being handled which was good experience for everyone involved. Many thanks to Barry for letting us use his garden and take over his shed as a ringing hut.

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