Monday, February 24, 2014

The One That Got Away

Monday was a fine morning with lots of bird activity round about but I was stuck at home waiting for the plumber to arrive, so I decided to do a little garden mist netting. It’s the first suitable day there’s been for many months, either in terms of birds in the vicinity or a wind and rain-free day. 

But this morning there seemed to be lots of bird song, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Song Thrush, Robin, Dunnock and Great Tit. At the big house across the way a pair of Jackdaws busied themselves by inspecting the double chimneys as Collared Doves and Woodpigeons closely watched the action. Maybe the doves were hoping to pick up some of the sticks the Jackdaws let drop to the floor? 

Below is picture of all the only evidence of the first bird I caught, one measly feather, all that was left on the grass below where a bird lay in the net for a few brief seconds. Full marks to anyone who stops to puzzle but then correctly identifies the species from the feather before reading on - go to the top of the class. 

It’s not a species generally associated with gardens but does occur in them more than one might imagine, especially during cold and frosty weather. I was in the house and through the window saw the large brown bird lying in the net but as I sped outside in one short move, the Woodcock lifted itself from the pocket and flew over the fence and far away. The second picture is as they say, “One I did earlier”, a year or two ago, so infrequent are sturdy and strong-flying Woodcocks found in mist nets. 

Woodcock feather

Woodcock

So I had to content myself with Goldfinches on a date which may prove to be the start of the species’ Spring movement north. Another sure sign of Spring was the sight and sound of Siskins in next door’s Sycamore tree, but the few birds there were not visiting my niger feeders today. 

Siskin

I caught 6 Goldfinch, not many but a better total than of recent inactive months - 5 females and a single male. Below is a female born last year, identified as a female by the grey nasal hairs, red not extending beyond the eye and aged as last season's bird by a combination of the mixed age tail feathers and the brown edging to lesser coverts. 

Goldfinch

Goldfinch

Another young female below, this one retaining some of its brownish juvenile head feathers. The red on the face reaches the end of the eye but does not extend beyond it. 

Goldfinch

Below is a male where for comparison with a female, the red on the face reaches a good way beyond the eye.

Goldfinch

There’s more to come later from Another Bird Blog, just as soon as the plumber’s gone and we can return to a normal existence. 

Linking today to Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.

23 comments:

David Gascoigne said...

Really informative stuff, Phil. Obviously I don't see those birds here but it's great to read about the identifying characters you use as a bander. Thanks for a great post.

Gordon said...

You may have mist it Phil,(no pun intended) but hay, a Woodcock in your garden can't be bad.
All the best Gordon.

Errol Newman said...

Good man!. I reckon the King Harrys have been itching for the off since last weeks storm & defo had one fresh in from somewhere further south today. Maybe I'll see a Woodcock one day, eh? Take good care.

Laura said...


beautiful closeups!

mick said...

The detail in your close photos is always fascinating. You are very lucky to be able to see the birds like that! AND we are lucky to have you share the photos!

Adam Jones said...

I love that Woodcock shot and the close up of the Goldfinch too. You've taught me something new today.

Carole M. said...

each delightful photographs of birds I don't see at home Phil; another great post

eileeninmd said...

Phil, lovely birds and photos. The Goldfinch is gorgeous. I heard the woodcocks are showing up and putting on their shows recently. Something I would love to see. Great post.

Russell Jenkins said...

I fear I'm at the bottom of the class, Phil. Can't imagine such a bird in a garden. Some splendid close-up portraits. We really can see their beautiful faces.

Russell Jenkins said...

I fear I'm at the bottom of the class, Phil. Can't imagine such a bird in a garden. Some splendid close-up portraits. We really can see their beautiful faces.

Russell Jenkins said...

I fear I'm at the bottom of the class, Phil. Can't imagine such a bird in a garden. Some splendid close-up portraits. We really can see their beautiful faces.

Fun60 said...

The goldfinch is one of our most beautiful birds.

TexWisGirl said...

such beautiful colors!

Chris Rohrer said...

When there is birdsong, we've got to get out of the door and start watching:) I love those days....although they don't always cooperate with my work schedule. The woodcock shot is amazing!!!!Such an unusual looking bird.

Gunilla Bäck said...

Beautiful close ups of the birds.

Kristi Bowman said...

Gorgeous Goldfinch, and those Woodcocks are so cute! Hope to make it birding in the UK one day.

Jen said...

I would be afraid to net the birds for fear of hurting them. Do you tag them once they are caught?

Karen said...

Your goldfinches are so lovely. I like the close ups!

The happy wanderer. said...

We do have some Goldfinches around Melbourne, an introduced species which doesn't seem to cause too many problems, so now I'll look more carefully to check which sex they are. Thanks for sharing that knowledge.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

Oh My Goodness Phil...you got a Woodcock and just last evening I was invited, but sadly declined due to inclement weather coming in, to go and watch them display in a filed about 16 miles from home. They will be there for a bit I presume. I was told you can only find a Woodcock at sunrise, or sundown...and that is difficult for me to imagine...and now there you are holding one in daylight. I am thrilled to see this lovely and I had only looked in my guidebook yesterday after the invite came in. Have a great day~

Lou Mary said...

WOW! Some only dream of getting woodcock in their gardens! Interesting to know how to distinguish between male and female goldies. A great post Phil :)

CountryMouse said...

Such detailed photos. The Goldfinch is very pretty.

Kenneth Cole Schneider said...

I would not have guessed it was a Woodcock feather. Was thinking goldfinch. Beautiful shots of the latter!

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