Who Needs To Get Up Early? Wednesday, 28th September 2022

With my usual midweek stalwart, Miranda, otherwise engaged, and Rosie on holiday in Cornwall, I was in two minds about how to organise my ringing for today. However, my mind was made up by the fact that, to top off the horrible end to yesterday’s Barn Owl session, I contrived to have a nasty fall and damage my knee as we left that site, making it painful to walk. I decided to open the nets in the garden again, having been encouraged by the last session there.

Unfortunately, my wife decided to pop out to nearby Wootton Bassett and I forgot that my ringing box was in the back of the car until 30 seconds after she had disappeared off to the shops. So I had to wait for her to return. In the end, I opened my nets at 11:00. I was not overly confident of catching many birds, having missed the morning rush, but decided to give it a go regardless.

No surprises to start with: a small group of Blue Tits, a Goldfinch, a Great Tit and a Dunnock were the first birds into the nets. Thereafter, I had repeats of these in differing numbers throughout the day. I shut the nets over lunch and then shut them completely at 17:00 in time for dinner.

Towards the end of the afternoon I heard a Chaffinch calling in the garden. They are uncommon in my garden catches: with just 23 processed in the last 10 years. Although it didn’t get caught straight away, two rounds after hearing it, it did get caught in one of the nets. It was a healthy juvenile female (no sign of mites / Fringilla papillomavirus or Trichomonosis):

Juvenile female Chaffinch, Fringilla coelebs

If you look at the wing you can clearly see the retained greater covert that helps identify it as a juvenile. What you can’t see are the narrow, very pointed central tail feathers, which are also diagnostic of a juvenile.

The last bird out of the nets today, extracted at 16:45, was this:

Juvenile Chiffchaff, Phylloscopus collybita

A key feature of juvenile Chiffchaffs, which you can see on this photo, are what my old trainer referred to as “rivers of yellow” running down the breast to the belly. This is only the third Chiffchaff I have ever caught in my garden, so I was extremely pleased with this final bird of the day.

The list for the session was: Blue Tit 3[8]; Great Tit [3]; Dunnock [2]; Robin (1); Chiffchaff [1]; Goldfinch [13](2). Totals: 3 adults ringed from 1 species, 27 juveniles ringed from 5 species and 3 birds retrapped from 2 species, making 33 birds processed from 6 species.

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