Winging it in Wales

This weekend we headed to Wales not only to visit the inlaws but of course to do some ringing in their garden. June and Rob’s house sits on the end of the row, with the corner garden overlooking fields, a small wood and the valley below. We usually catch between 20 and 30 birds in a morning, with the usual garden suspects of blue tits, great tits, robins and dunnocks…

The prolonged spell of very cold weather has reduced the availability of food in the wider countryside, bringing birds into those gardens providing food, like June’s and hoovering up bucket loads of seed.
Nets set and catching birds

After setting two nets, it did not take long for the birds to start piling in, not those usual suspects but siskins, lesser redpolls and goldfinches. Other species caught included a great spotted woodpecker, chaffinch, greenfinch and a flock of nine long-tailed tits. In total we caught 162 birds, blowing the previous total of just over 100 birds in one day out of the garden!

Interesting birds from today’s catch include a goldfinch that was originally ringed in the adjacent valley. Plus two lesser redpolls, which rather than having the usual red spot on the head, and in the case of males on the breast, were yellow!

Yellow Lesser Redpoll
 More typical male Lesser Redpoll

The condition is a form of leucism, where the feather lacks the pigment melanin. In this case the lack of red in the feathers means the yellow colour is more dominant. The British Trust for Ornithology has recently started a survey of birds with such abnormal plumages with some interesting results

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