Early September 2014 – a ringing update   Leave a comment



Just a quick blog update before, once again, I go on my travels, this time to northern Madagascar, however the Air France pilot’s strike has already caused problems and threatens to wreck the whole trip.

The settled dry, easterly conditions have been good for ringing at Dulston, although it has been a bit on the windy side at times. Since the start of September we have ringed nearly a thousand birds with Blackcaps occurring in unprecedented numbers (550 in the first 18 days of September). Over the last few days there has been a large movement of Meadow Pipits and close on 100 have been ringed.

IMG_0019 Yellow Wagtail

We also have done some ringing at Lytchett Bay. Sedge Warblers were still present at the start of the month and we ringed a few Yellow Wagtails at dusk one evening.

IMG_0030 Mipit

Meadow Pipits have been ringed in large numbers over the last few days. The whitish fringes to the unmoulted median coverts with the centers forming a downward pointing tooth indicate it is a first year bird. Another first year feature is that the  unmoulted greater coverts are not very dark centred and have a diffuse brown fringe. Contrast them with the two longest tertials which are darker with a better defined fringe.

IMG_0031 Mipit

The heavily streaked flanks and long hind claw are good features to separate Meadow Pipits from Tree Pipits (which seem to have all left for Africa). The constant pheet-pheet-pheet call is a bit of give away too.

IMG_0033 Blackcap 3&4

Telling a first year male Blackcap (L) from an adult (R) involves checking for contrast in the wing coverts, fault bars on the tail and pointed outer tail feathers, all first year features. Additional pointers shown in this photo are, the presence of brown fringes to the crown feathers, a brown wash to the ear coverts and slightly less richly coloured eye.

IMG_0022 Wilwa abberant wing

This is the wing of Willow Warbler but an unusual one at that. Normally the longest feather is the 3rd primary (counted from the outside in – and remember that the 1st is vestigial and largely hidden by my thumb) but in this case it seems to be the 5th. However it can be seen that the 6th – 10th primary are unmoulted whilst 2- 5 are new, so is the 3rd still growing? I must admit I forgot to check this at the time. Adult birds should complete their moult before migration but this bird has either suspended its moult mid way though or is migrating with moult in progress. Not all birds fit the rules.

IMG_0020 ringing demo

We are asked to perform two public ringing demonstrations annually. One on the 14th was attended by about 20 people. Here Sean Walls is explaining  the use of radio tags on birds.


IMG_0034 Sparrowhawk juv male

It’s a shame that we caught this Sparrowhawk the day after the public demo, rather than during it. The pale eye and chestnut fringes to the feathers show it is a juvenile, the small size shows it is a male. Male Sparrowhawks are so much smaller than females that they take a different ring size.


IMG_0041 Redstart

We trapped a Common Redstart the day of the demo, but soon after dawn well before the public arrived.



DSCF4423 WEO and Christine

Last Friday our young friend Christine Arnold came round for a meal. She was about to return to teacher training college and was keen to catch up with our news. She has been staying on Brownsea Island and was most impressed that Bill Oddie was staying there as well. I don’t know if this is in his guise as Autumn Watch presenter or as a private holiday. Either way Christine was most impressed to be in the company of a wildlife celebrity and asked that I post this photo on my blog.

Posted September 18, 2014 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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