I learned a valuable lesson tonight. When you mow the lawn, make sure you can still find the holes that your ringing poles came out of! Having not done this, I decided that the only sure fire way to ensure the poles were in the correct place was to pop the nets up for an hour. I wasn’t expecting a lot as it was a little too sunny and breezy…and I wasn’t disappointed.
I may not have caught much this evening, but what I did catch was quality. The first two birds in the net were a pair of house sparrows, one of which was sporting a shiny silver accessory on its leg – my first re-trap. Guess this female wasn’t as net shy as they are billed to be, or maybe her mate thought he knew better on the directions and just wouldn’t listen when she said ‘you don’t want to go that way’!
The male was a feisty one, whereas the female was very calm and sat there looking as though she knew that she’d been here before and would be released in a matter of minutes. The male had a bit of a CP going but the female didn’t have a brood patch yet. She had put on 2.5g in the past 11 days though.
My third (and final) bird of the evening was a goldfinch – a new species for the garden. The sexing of this bird seemed quite straight forward (female) but the ageing was a little more tricky. The feathers all appeared pretty fresh but the shape of the 5th and 6th tail feathers and the outer three GCs hinted at this being a first year (no OGCs though).
|Female goldfinch (on shape of red behind eye and gey nose hairs)|
|Non-adult shape of 5th and 6th tail feathers?|
I have decided that ringing is a bit like learning to drive a car. You pass your test and think you know how to drive. You then go away, buy a car and realise that now you have to learn how to really drive. Ringing by myself is turning out to be a little like that. When I find myself saying ‘well I think it’s an adult female’ and realise that there isn’t anyone there to tell me if I am right or wrong, I have to turn to Svensson (or Baker) and in the process, I learn something I didn’t know before (or had forgotten). All I need to do now is learn to trust my own judgement.
I predicted that ringing by myself would be a steep learning curve and I was right…but, it isn’t half fun. Now, if only I could train my memory to remember things better!