Yesterday started with an early morning spot of garden mist-netting in North Wales. This was no ordinary garden netting though as the target was, once again, Hawfinch. I was emailed an amazing statistic this morning from the current BTO volunteering magazine that in Britain between 1970 and 2010 there has been a 76% contraction in the breeding range of the Hawfinch. This is one of the main reasons we are concentrating our efforts on this nationally important population and collaborating with RSPB research scientists from the Lodge.
Over the past few months the owners of this particular garden have had over 40 different colour-ringed Hawfinches on their feeders! In a couple of hours Dave, Jane, Sarah Cookson and I caught over 50 birds, mostly Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Redpoll and Siskin but also 5 Hawfinches, remarkably, all of which were new. Many thanks to the the owners for their co-operation and hospitality (names and location withheld for obvious reasons). Afterwards we headed to our usual Hawfinch RAS feeding site where we managed to catch another 8 birds of which 5 were also new, making a total of 43 new birds so far this year.
Cracking adult male with a fine set of "crinkles" (see below)
Can't get over these amazing 3 dimensional inner primaries.
At 5pm, in an act of blatant over-optimism, we headed off to try and catch Ring Ouzels. As you can see from the photos below, amazingly, we succeeded, catching and colour-ringing a fine adult male.
Despite having been up since 4 am doing Black Grouse counts Dave just about manages the appropriate facial expression!