|Blue wearing through on head of chaffinch|
An increase in reed bunting numbers was readily apparent in the marsh, with an estimated 20-25 birds foraging around the feeding station. Capturing 10 of these was a relatively good return, and brings the annual total to 19 unique birds for 2014. In 2013 36 new reed buntings were ringed. With 14 new birds already in 2014, it is looking like last years' total will be exceeded.
Some of the key features used for ageing chaffinches can be seen in the two photographs above. The shape of the tail feathers of 1st winter male chaffinches is typically rather pointed, whereas in adults (like this one) the tail feathers are rounded and broad (see photo above left). There is also some green edging to the central tail feathers that is visible here - this feature is listed in Svensson (1992) as being typical of adults. The photo of the wing (above right) shows that there are no retained greater coverts, and little contrast between the alula feathers / primary coverts and the greater coverts (retained greater coverts or clear contrast would both be indicative of a first winter bird - as they would indicate a moult limit).
Hopefully next week will bring good weather, better diversity and a higher proportion of finches in the catch.
Many thanks to Charlie Sargent and Aaron Davies for coming along this morning.
Reference. Svensson, L. (1992). Identification guide to European passerines. Privately Published, Stockholm.