Yesterday I was up reasonably early for ringing. As the days are getting longer, you need to have the nets up before dawn, which meant me and my dad were up at 3:30am for a 5am start. The birds were out and about very early too even though it was freezing cold. Soon to be leaving this country, we caught the second Brambling of the year (my brother ringed the first). Numbers we have caught this year are way down on last year, maybe due to the mild winter. This one will soon be heading off to Scandinavia. This was a great and hopeful start to the session, which continued to impress.
We also caught a large bird today, an old enemy to my dad the JAY!!! I let my dad ring this, and I've got to say I was really proud of him, he focused really hard and when it came to measuring the wing my dad was only 1mm out.
On close inspection we found that this fabulous bird was a juvenile. They are lovely birds when you see them up close but you have to respect that beak and claws.
We were catching a steady number of Chaffinches yesterday, and because it is coming into the breeding season, the chaffinches are starting to come into their breeding plumage. As you can see in this picture below, there is a huge difference between the two. The one on the left has worn away all it's brown on the feathers and this has given way to the beautiful blue crown. The male on the right has still not worn off the brown on the feathers. There is also another difference because if you look at the bill you can see the one on the left has got a blue breeding plumage bill and the one on the right hasn't, instead it's got more of a dull orange bill.
The site we were at is made up of lots of small trees, unlike the habitat of a Nuthatch, so it was really nice and quite unusual to catch one today. I was really quite pleased with the variety of birds we got to ring today (this Nuthatch was a female, the male has a much richer, chestnutty coloured flanks).
It wasn't just birds we saw today, the flowers were all starting to come out including this Colts Foot and also a few Cow Slips and even a small tortoiseshell butterfly made an appearance.
As spring is now here I am very much looking forward to some new arrivals - I reckon Sylvia Atricapilla is only a couple of weeks away.
Other birds today included Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Lesser Redpoll, Robin, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Song Thrush and Coal Tit.