Monday, April 18, 2016

In A Ringer's Garden

I’ve been marooned indoors most of the weekend, followed by a Monday of mostly rain when birding didn’t appeal. Instead I completed a few chores and then relaxed at home, even tried a little garden ringing between showers. Apart from a few unwary Goldfinch and a pair of resident Blackbirds that blundered into the single net while chasing around, nothing else played ball. The camera proved more effective in capturing birds than the single 40ft net I employ. 

I suppose I was trying to catch a few of the Lesser Redpoll that I’ve seen about the garden for a week or more, a species yet to appear in my home ringing list. It’s hard to tell if the handful of redpolls have been are involved, but at this time of year it seems unlikely when large numbers of them are speeding north. I finally managed to get a few pictures of this scarce garden visitor by moving the bird feeder closer to the downstairs bedroom window. The feeder is filled with a mix of niger and millet, with the redpolls seeming to prefer the black stuff. 

Lesser Redpoll

Lesser Redpoll

Over a cup of coffee the IPMR ringing database told me how many of each species I have caught in the garden by occasional ringing since moving here in late 1990. I found one or two surprises amongst the almost 600 birds of 25 species.  Click the table below to see it larger.

Garden Birds

Goldfinches are the most abundant visitor, so much so that the once plentiful House Sparrow is now just an occasional visitor. The Goldfinch is way ahead as the most ringed bird and although as a partial migrant species I do try and catch them when they are around in numbers, the total of 217 ringed a true reflection of their profusion in recent years. 


Just 15 Chaffinch came as a shock as the species is fairly common in the garden, but upon reflection they do tend to appear in tiny and often unexpected handfuls, mostly mopping up under the feeders. In comparison Goldfinches often swarm over the feeders and can number up to 15/20 at a time. 


The traditional garden birds of Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits feature well along with a good number of the less typical garden dweller the Coal Tit. 

I was pleased to see the Blackbird total at a healthy 56 including some nestlings, but disappointed to see just a single Song Thrush in the list. This is yet another reflection of how a once common garden bird has declined. More than one pair of Blackbirds is busily feeding young just now; the male below caused a rumpus today when a robber Magpie came by. 


Note the odd one out in the list, a single Swallow, a juvenile bird caught by hand in the partly constructed house when Swallows took up residence before us in late 1990. The builder kindly let the Swallows finish their family before fitting the front door.


The ones that got away? I well remember a Woodcock which flapped from the net before I could reach it, not to mention the more than one occasion when a Sparrowhawk did the same, including today. 

You can't win 'em all.

Linking today to World Bird Wednesday.


Linda said...

They are all lovely and have such beautiful colours and markings!

David Gascoigne said...

It's always interesting to look back on a series of statistics to examine the trend over time. Who would have thought several years ago that House Sparrow would be so scarce? And now, Mr. Slade it's time to arise from this lethargy and get out there and do some real banding!

Margaret Adamson said...

Lovely seeing the birds in your garden. This is what I have on my post today also. Love your Lesser Redpoll.

Mary Cromer said...

Those Swallows, those Swallows, and the Redpoll so beautiful, and I really need to come and claim that neat bird feeder as well. Happy Birthday Phil! I hope you have enjoyed a grand day. It was so wonderful finally getting to see the very kind man who took me on as a fellow blogger back several years now. I apologize once again for tardiness, just night feeling my best these days, but I will be~

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I love that photo of the swallows!!!!

NC Sue said...

Wonderful photos, all!
Thank you for sharing with us at

Kristiina said...

These photos are co cute.

R. Täysin arkista

Nora said...

All the house sparrows are here now. Your Goldfinch is quite different from mine. Lovely photos as always.

Chandra@GreenComotion said...

I enjoyed your photos of the birds.
The Finches I have seen are very different from the ones you have presented - that's awesome and I relished the variety!
Have a Happy Day!
Peace :)

Stuart Price said...

Redpoll is a pretty good species to get in the garden.........

Lowcarb team member said...

A lovely selection of photographs to look at and enjoy - the colours are amazing, and of course we get to appreciate them more when we see them like this.

I do hope the weather has been better for you these past couple of days.

All the best Jan

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I am kind of perversely glad to know you do spend some time not seriously birding and banding. Happy post altogether, but especially the swallow babes.

Marie C said...

Love your "home ringing" results! Sometimes being home really works out instead of heading out to bird. Nicely documented too!

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