A Hoary Dawn!

Sunday, February 18th 2018

The bird ringers had travelled through mist, frost and sunshine to arrive at Foxglove for 8am.  The ice crunched beneath their feet as the nets were opened. Guy ropes on the net poles were so cold and rigid they refused to bend!

Ice

Of the total of 205 birds processed, 90 were newly ringed.  Coal Tits come into the reserve over the winter months as there is always plenty of food for them.  In all 54 were handled today.

Coal Tit

Siskins are frequent visitors to the back garden feeders but have been conspicuous by their absence recently.  These birds weigh in around 12g.  This is a beautiful female, one of the first to return for the 2018 breeding season.

Female Siskin

Treecreepers use their long thin beaks to probe for insects in the bark of trees.  Usually you are only aware of a movement and the brown and white colour of the bird, but when you get close up, the pattern on the back and wings is amazing.

Treecreeper

Whilst Treecreepers only go up a tree Nuthatches can move up and down as they search for food.

Nuthatch

This morning we watched the Sparrowhawk fly through the garden and then sit in a tree before flying off.  Too many branches in the way for even a splodge.  From a net round Leanne returned with a 1st year female Sparrowhawk.  This bird was big and very powerful, females being somewhat bigger than the males. 

Sparrowhawk

Taking photographs I initially thought the camera was out of focus, when I realised that I had managed to catch the blinking of the third eyelid, the nictitating membrane, which protects the eye.

Sparrowhawk

 The majesty and power of this bird is caught in the photograph. They are fierce predators!

Sparrowhawk

We have only ever caught 10 female Sparrowhawks at Foxglove because they routinely bounce out of the nets such is their size.  The last two were caught on 25/11/2007 and 06/01/2013.  

Thank you to everyone who helped today - it was a productive session.


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