Saturday, October 30, 2010

Birds in the net

Early start - got up at 4.45am. Didn't get home til about 9.30pm. Between these times I was at Castor Hanglands, one of my old stomping grounds near Peterborough.

Lesser Redpoll
Lesser Redpoll
Net full of redpolls!
11 in the net!

We caught about 120 birds...
  • Lesser Redpoll
  • Siskin
  • Chaffinch
  • Great Tit
  • Blue Tit
  • Coal Tit
  • Long-tailed Tit
  • Marsh Tit
  • Treecreeper
  • Blackbird
  • Redwing
  • Song Thrush
  • Tree Sparrow
  • Goldcrest
  • Sparrowhawk!

Sparrowhawk
Juvenile male Sparrowhawk
For me, this was the highlight: a juvenile male Sparrowhawk. I haven't handled many birds of prey so it was a really good opportunity to deal with a bird that actually could hurt me - if it wanted to, and if I wasn't careful enough.

We got it out of the net without too much trouble, and put it in a cotton bird bag until we were ready to ring it. Then, I had to put my hand into the bag containing the hawk, and get the bird out again without letting it escape.

I could see the sharp talons sticking out through the cotton, so at least I knew where they were...

Sparrowhawk
the eyes have it

Normally you identify the bird, put the ring on, and then do the ageing, sexing and biometrics (weighing, fat and muscle scoring, and measuring wing length).

With Sparrowhawks there's such a size difference between males and females they take different ring sizes (males being smaller). The wing length confirmed it was a male, and the chestnut-brown edges to the back and wing feathers show it hatched earlier this year.

The Sparrowhawk was surprisingly docile while I handled it. It had a look of rage in its eyes, though. When we were finished, it was a pleasure to release it. What a bird...

Sparrowhawk wing
underwing...
Sparrowhawk wing
and upperwing

Female Siskin
now for something smaller - a female Siskin

Lottie
and Lottie, who kept us entertained between net rounds with her stick-chasing and chewing

photos taken with Canon EOS 30D