The Firs: Monday, 1st March 2021

With the continuing good ringing weather, I decided on a trip to the Firs this morning. I was joined for the session by Jonny and Lucy.

Lucy had hoped that we might catch a couple of Lesser Redpoll as she hasn’t ringed any of them yet. Unfortunately, we didn’t, but she did get to both extract and process her first two Great Spotted Woodpeckers: one new and one retrap.

Male Great Spotted Woodpecker: Lucy’s first extraction and ringing of this species

When Lucy looked at the tail feathers she noticed that there was some unusual matter collected along the feather shafts:

Picture by Lucy Mortlock

I have asked for opinions on the ringers’ group on Facebook and had a few suggestions: a mix of resin and lichen particles from one, algae plus bark debris from another. I thought it might be the result of feather mite abrasion and someone else suggested the products of abrasion. Any other suggestions are welcome.

The list for the session was: Great Spotted Woodpecker 1(1); Nuthatch 4(1); Blue Tit 11(9); Great Tit 11(13); Coal Tit 2(3); Long-tailed Tit (1); Wren (1); Robin 4; Song Thrush 1; Blackbird 1; Goldcrest 1(2); Chaffinch 4(1). Totals: 40 birds ringed from 10 species and 32 birds retrapped from 9 species making 72 birds processed from 12 species.

We seem to be doing quite well for Chaffinch in the Braydon Forest. At a time when many ringers are saying that they cannot ring Chaffinch because of the prevalence of Fringilla papillomavirus, we have not seem a case of it in Chaffinch for a long time. In the last two sessions we have ringed eight and processed one retrap, all of which had completely clean legs and feet. The retrapped bird was ringed as an adult at this time last year, so has survived at least 3 years without catching it.

It was another good catch of Nuthatch. Unlike Saturday’s catch, in which all four were recaptures, all bar one of today’s were new birds.

My highlight of the session was a Coal Tit ringed by me as a full adult in April 2016. This makes it at least 6 years old. The oldest known is 9 years 2 months but the typical lifespan is just 2 years. It is doing well.

One other point of interest: it is not often that Great Tit outnumbers Blue Tit in the catch.

With the catch falling off after 10:30, we closed up and took down at 11:15.

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