One of the great joys of bird ringing is that you never know what you will find in the net (or even if you will find anything at all!) Saturday, November 29, 2008 was just one of those days - one where the unexpected turned up rather than nothing!
I'd anticipated that the weather would be calm and fine and so had put out some feeders in a private area of woodland near the Lune Valley but had had trouble getting out of bed early after a hard week's work, so got to the wood a bit later than expected. Worse, the birds had eaten all the seeds I'd put out and it was bright sunshine - in such circumstances it is not uncommon to draw a blank as far as catching is concerened and I had no high hopes of doing anything other than sitting in the wood and relaxing. How wrong could I be?
It turned out to be one of the busiest mornings I've had, even though I only used one net - the birds were positively enthusiastic about jumping into the net, even as I was putting it up and for the next three hours I was kept nice and busy.
Highlights of the morning included three Nuthatch, including one with a deformed bill - the upper mandible was almost a centimetre shorter than the lower mandible and skewed slightly to one side, but it obviously had little difficulty in feeding itself as it appeared to be an adult - I say "appeared to be" as they are rather tricky to age.
However, nice though Nuthatch are, undoubtably the best bird was a Marsh Tit - the first I've caught in over 15 years ringing. Marsh Tit are not easy birds to see in our area, so this will be a useful bird for us to record as part of the BTO bird atlas. Other birds ringed included 30 Blue Tit (plus 4 ringed by me in this valley as pulli), 14 Great Tit (plus 5 ringed birds and one possibly from somewhere else), 15 Coal Tit (plus 1 ringed and 1 other), 2 Robin and single Chaffinch, Dunnock and Treecreeper.
Ringing helps us to assess and record the importance of such woodland for breeding and wintering birds and this morning helped build up a scientific record of just how important such woods are for the diversity and abundance of birds in our area.
The only downside was that it was so cold that my camera wouldn't work so I couldn't photograph anything!
Are these yours? TH22759 - Great Tit, TH43033 - Nuthatch, V439178 - Coal Tit.