We have two feeding stations at Kings Moss, both feeding stations are located on the fringes of the plantation but offering different prospects. Feeding Station 1 incorporates the perimeter hedgerow and on a calm day, we are able to set lines of nets on either side of the hedgerow as well as a dog leg in the goat willow. This site is where we catch the majority of the Yellowhammer, Greenfinch and Chaffinch however the first net round today yielded the first Chiffchaff of the year in this spot.
Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
Feeding Station 2 is located on the lowland fringe, close to the Highland Cattle field amongst the goat willow and hazel. This site is where we catch the majority of the titmice, although we did catch the first Yellowhammer in this spot during the session. Feeding Station 2 also picks up a decent number of Goldfinch, however, we're aware that the feeders haven't been topped up as regularly as we would have liked over the last two weeks, which is the likely explanation of our lower-than-average total for the session.
The main success story of the session was the Yellowhammer total, our largest single total at the site to date. The majority of the birds that we caught were males, some of which provided interesting discussion with regards to plumage details. Some of our observations of 'obvious' males highlighted a number of features not detailed in Svensson and whilst I'm not an expert on this species and there are many ringers more experienced with Yellowhammer than I, I've included a few comparative photo's here:
Adult Male (above), Juvenile Male (below)
Note the markings on the central undertail covert - the adult (above) has a more diffuse chestnut centre to the feather whereas the juvenile (below) has a much narrower black centre.
Adult Male Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)
The rest of the ringing session was relatively sedate, with a steady trickle of birds, we were checking the nets much more frequently than normal, due to the number of individuals out and about. Alan and Edwina at Fir Tree Farm have done a fantastic job, with the help of a number of dedicated volunteers, in creating an ecologically valuable site. The site is open to members of the public to enjoy nature with a number of trails through the plantations and around the surrounding fields, the only stipulation is that all dogs are kept on a lead and all waste removed. Now as a (relucant) dog owner, I wouldn't dream of letting Canela off in an ecologically sensitive area - so whenever we encounter dog walkers with their dogs off the lead at Kings Moss, we politely to ask them to put their dog on a lead and explain what we are doing. Yesterday however, me and Steve were met with a degree of hostility from one individual - a relatively disappointing experience, but we didn't let it get us down.
Long-tailed Tits (Aegithalos caudatus)
The last bird of the day was a Greenfinch control, ring number TJ67406, most likely one of Pete Alkers birds, but we shall wait and see. Onwards we march....
Dunnock - 2 (3)
Goldfinch - 6 (1)
Blue Tit - 5 (4)
Chaffinch - (1)
Great Tit - 3 (1)
Greenfinch - 2 (1)
Blackbird - 1
Yellowhammer - 9
L.T.Tit - 2
Chiffchaff - 1
Coal Tit - 2
Robin - 2
TOTAL: 35 (11)