Saturday, 27 February 2010

Brack - Sat 27 Feb

With Met Office weather warnings out for Sunday we decided to switch days and we arrived at a surprisingly mild and slightly drizzly Brack. Fortunately the rain held off until just after 11:00, enabling us to catch 33 birds, 18 of which were Yellowhammers (13 new, 5 retrap). But perhaps of most interest was a retrap adult female Reed Bunting. This species gets increasingly hard to age accurately as the season progresses and so it's always helpful to catch known-age birds.
The tail was broad as one would expect, but getting very abraded, particularly the central two feathers.
The primary coverts showed the slightly paler tips we've come to associate with adults, but the barbs and edges were not as crisp or tight as they were on fresh adults back in the autumn. Without a young bird for direct comparison this feature clearly needs to be inspected closely and carefully from late winter onwards. Just for interest, here are the pics we published back in October again, adult first, then a youngster:
It seems that the very tip of the inner web is the best place to look as there is always some looseness on the outer web of adults.
And whilst we're on the subject of known-age birds, here are three pics of a retrap adult Dunnock. Its tail was getting battered too, but still broad and dark.
Its primary coverts had typical tiny black tips (as opposed to crescents):
And its iris was a lovely deep orange:
We also caught a young Great Tit that had not only replaced its tertials, but also the innermost secondary on each side.
Away from the nets we watched 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers. One male was drumming and holding territory near the base and a second male came to investigate on a couple of occasions but was rapidly chased off. A female simply watched from the sidelines.
Pete

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