16 Apr 2018

Finches on the move

At last some fine(ish) weather conducive to migration! Summer visitors are beginning to arrive in good numbers and some of our winter visitors are beginning to move. There's been a marked increase in finches visiting the garden with predominantly Chaffinches and Goldfinches numbers increasing.

I managed to do some ringing over the weekend and set 3 nets up in the garden. Highlights included the first ever Jay I've ringed, in either this garden or our previous one, and the 7th Great Spotted Woodpecker to be caught in a week. Only one was a re-trap from last year. I know there are occasional influxes into Shetland from Scandinavia in the autumn so are these returning birds? Amazing when you think you've only got a pair of birds visiting the garden and then suddenly find its at least 7 individuals.

Jays are beautiful birds but rather feisty. The eye colour is fantastic but that hook tipped upper mandible can cause some damage  to the unwary ringer!

We'd had a female Brambling visit the garden recently so when I heard a Brambling calling with the Chaffinch flock I assumed it was the same bird. I was wrong  - it was a cracking 2nd calendar year male!

Redpolls have been very scarce this year and I hadn't even seen one locally until this weekend when a small group suddenly turned up. I ringed 4 and there were at least 2 other un-ringed birds seen on Sunday afternoon. All the ringed birds were 2nd calendar year birds and there was only a single male. It was interesting to see the variation in 'poll' colour with 1 bird having a orange / yellow poll rather than red.

Amazingly I caught very few Blue Tits and Great Tits suggesting that they've either moved away now the breeding season is in full swing or they've suffered high mortality during the recent cold spells of weather. It'll be interesting to see how numbers have fared nationally when the ringing statistics are collated.

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