Sunday, 7 March 2010

Worth the wait

We started at our usual Saturday afternoon ringing site on Charnwood Forest at about 1.30pm. The feeders hadn't been filled as our seed supply had run out and in any case we would be moving from this site for the summer in a couple of weeks and didn't want to leave seed in the ringing lab for the mice to eat over the summer.

So no feeders no birds. I thought I would take some photos while we waited for the roost to develop. This is the old Stable Block and our ringing lab is the door and window below the upstairs window.

The Old Stable Block, Charnwood Lodge

I say ringing lab with tongue in cheek, what else do we call it? It's not a hut - far too grand!

At this time of year there are a lot of semi-wild Snowdrops around the site. These will be followed by an equally impressive display of primroses and finally the woodland floor will be covered with bluebells.


Finally, after nearly four hours and only four birds, a Blue Tit, Dunnock, Long Tailed Tit and a retrap Great Tit, but plenty of tea and walnut cake, the Chaffinches started to fly over and come into the roost. Here is a photo of the start of the main roost ride between stands of Rhododendron.

Roost net ride.

Chris went round for the first batch of Chaffinches from the roost only to bring back two Brambling as well. A male and a female, both first years (age 5).

Male Brambling

You can see from this photo one of the strategies some male finches and buntings use to aquire breeding plumage. Instead of having to go through the trauma of a moult , the new head feathers when moulted in late summer and early autumn have brown/grey tips to them. As the feathers abraid during the winter the tips wear and the underlying colour shows through, Black on Brambling and Reed Bunting, Yellow on Yellowhammer and Blue on Chaffinches. Of course the females are subject to the same degree of moult, but the underlying are colours are not so contrasting.

Female Brambling

So, in the end, it turned out quite a good session with a total of 30 birds ringed, (of 10 species), with 16 new Chaffinches, the 2 Bramblings, 3 Blackbirds (one female had the startings of a brood patch - code 1) and a Song Thrush.

So it was worth the wait.


  1. Great review Nigel, thanks. Just back from Norfolk and have had a walk round the sewage farm site this afternoon to check it out. Spring is in the air with several resident species evidently prospecting including a pair of Long-tailed Tits looking at the same bramble clump where they nested last year.

  2. Nice one Nigel, and great Brambling and Snowdrop pics. Managed to ring on the rough today. Again, pairs of birds in evidence with a pair of Goldfinch and Bullfinch.