11 May 2015

Chaffinches and Blackcaps.

I generally catch a few wintering Blackcaps in the garden but this last winter was very poor for them and we didn't see any until well after Christmas. It was probably to mild for them and they would have had no problems finding natural food. A male has been singing in the trees adjacent to the garden and I was surprised to find him in a mist net as I hadn't seen him in the back garden at all!

I aged it as a 2nd calendar year male with a moult contrast in the greater coverts. The tail was typical of a 2nd calendar rear bird being worn and with pointed (rather than broad tipped) tips to the feathers.

I also caught a few Chaffinches and these seem in no hurry to leave for their breeding sites. The male below was a 2nd calendar year bird - typically worn and with brownish faded flight feathers.

He'd moulted all his juvenile greater coverts except the outer one.

Another surprise was the 1st Woodpigeon I've caught in the garden. These are hard to catch in a mist net and this one was caught in a walk-in trap I'd made especially to try and catch them. These are hard to age as they can start, suspend and restart their moults at odd times of year resulting in numerous generations of feather being present. This one had no contrast in any of the coverts and all the primaries and secondaries were of the same age so presumably was at least a 3rd calendar year bird.

None of the nest boxes I've installed around the garden or pond are being used this year which is a bit surprising. However, 3 of the 6 boxes checked were inhabited by Bumble Bees. The only boxes being used by tits are ones I installed for Jackdaws and Starlings.

The boxes I put up on farmland a couple of hundred metres or so away from the house are being used and of 9 boxes checked 6 are occupied! As usual I have a very inquisitive audience when checking these boxes. So far its looking good with 7/9 boxes currently occupied.

The countryside is blooming at the moment with Blackthorn and Cowslips both flowering around my local patch.

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