Saturday, January 03, 2009

Q: What's brown and goes 'pitchoo'?

A: Marsh Tit (OK, you already knew that).

Today we finally got some more ringing done in the garden (the first session was back in November 2007). We plied Derek with curry and Top Trumps and with the aid of a single mist net and some sunflower hearts, he caught a total of 47 birds this morning:
  • Blue Tit, 16 ringed, of which only 5 had hatched last year - indicative of the poor breeding season this species had. Also 2 retrapped (ringed Nov 07)
  • Great Tit, 8 ringed (of which 4 hatched last year); 1 retrap
  • Chaffinch, 6 males ringed (though 3 females also around this afternoon - draw your own conclusions)
  • Marsh Tit, 3 (one adult, two birds hatched in '08)
  • Dunnock, 3
  • Coal Tit, 2 ringed; 1 retrap
  • Wren, 1
  • Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 female hatched last year
  • Greenfinch, 1
  • Starling, 1 relatively long-winged bird
  • Robin, 1 retrap
The Great Spotted Woodpecker and Starling were spectacular to look at, but the Marsh Tits were the biggest surprise of the day. For a while we've been watching 'a' Marsh Tit coming to the birdfeeder, but then on Christmas Day we finally saw two at once. Today, we were pleased to catch one at the start, and then we found two in the net at the same time! 

Not sure what the sound of the day was. Maybe the 'tap, tap, tap' of the woodpecker on my index finger, or the horrible screeching it made to start with (no harm came to the birds - woodpeckers are noisy and tend to make a fuss). Or was it me going 'ow!' (and worse) as the Blue Tits nipped and hung onto the skin next to my fingernails?

Easier on the ear were the hooting Tawny Owls I heard when I [quickly] opened the window before going to bed. I did try that just after midnight on New Year's Day, but all I could hear were distant volleys of fireworks. And it was flipping cold outside, so I retreated.

Everyone knows that Tawny Owls go 'tuwhit, tuwhoo' (or words to that effect). The hooting ('tuwhoo') is the male owl, and the 'tuwhit' or 'kewick' is the female responding (what came first, the tuwhit or the tuwhoo?). 

Tawny Owls will be starting to breed anytime now; in fact, we heard a young Tawny calling at Swiss Gardens just after Christmas. 

photos taken with Canon Powershot A640