Brown’s Farm: Saturday, 5th January 2019

My last visit to Brown’s Farm, back in late September last year, was a busy session with 69 birds caught.  In anticipation of a similar catch, for this session I was joined by Jonny, Ellie and Emmeline (our latest recruit). Unfortunately, we did not have quite such a productive session, despite putting the nets in the same place as last time.  The hedgerow food must have become severely depleted.  Next time we will set along by the game cover.

That is not to say that, despite a lack of birds, it wasn’t an interesting session.  We only caught 13 birds but the list was Blue Tit 2(1); Robin 2(1); Blackbird 2; Linnet 3; Starling 1; Yellowhammer 1.  Totals: 11 birds ringed from 6 species; 2 birds recaptured from 2 species, making 13 birds processed from 6 species.

Two of the three Linnets were male.

2019_01_05linne

There are two ways of identifying male birds. The first, and most obvious, is the presence of pink on the breast, which becomes more obvious as they come into breeding condition.  The other criterion you can use is demonstrated on the second photo.  When you look at the primary wing feathers the innermost feathers have a white leading edge. If that white edge reaches close to the black feather shaft it is a male, if there is a gap of 1mm or more it is a female.

2019_01_05linne 2

The Starling was an adult male.  You can tell this because of the shape of the feathers on the side of the breast:

2019_01_05starl

As you can see, they are thin and pointed with a central black shaft. That is diagnostic of an adult male.  Finally, the Yellowhammer was also a male. This one was a bird that fledged last year:

2019_01_05yelha

Over the next few months those brown tips to the head feathers will wear away revealing the familiar yellow head of the bird.