This weekend I have been out both mornings ringing at a winter crop cover on my families farm. We rang there last year and did really well for continental Chaffinches, so decided to go back and see what had turned up this year!
We put up a line of 7 nets down a track between the maize.
Whilst putting the nets up we spotted huge flocks of finches and after a look through the binoculars discovered around 80% of them were Bramblings! Last year we caught 2 Bramblings and over 100 Chaffinch, but this year seems to be a great year for the winter migrants and the numbers have gone up a lot!
In the first round we caught around 30 birds, including lots of Greenfinch, of course Brambling, a few Blackbirds and Chaffinch.
Lots of the birds were juveniles from last year, you can tell from a moult limit in the greater coverts, and in Bramblings and Chaffinches it is often very noticeable!
On the photo below you can see that the last two greater coverts at the end are different from the rest. These are old greater coverts from the birds juvenile plumage, the others have been moulted and so are much darker and better quality!
Over the course of the morning we caught a total of 53 birds including a lovely Siskin and female Bullfinch!
Blue tit 6
Song thrush 1
As we had a great day with some lovely classic winter farmland bird species, we decided to furl (close) the nets and leave them up overnight to go back early the next morning!
We were back early the next morning for a few hours before I had to go to work, and opened the nets up quickly before the sun had risen!
The first round was amazing, catching lots of birds that had just come out of a roost! We caught around 40 birds. The highlights were more stunning Bramblings and a couple of Redwing!
We also had a few nice continental Blackbirds, and in the photo below it was very clear that it was a young male, hatched last year, from the old greater coverts and primaries being a duller brown.
We had another fantastic morning, catching another 50 birds in just 3 hours!
Song thrush 1
Great tit 1
Blue tit 3