Tricky identification!

Monday, August 15th 2011

Some of the bird ringers put out mist nets on the training area at Marne Barracks on bank of the River Swale this morning. There are usually a few different species there to the ones commonly caught at Foxglove. Several Marsh Tits and Willow Tits were ringed. These are difficult to separate in the field (where voice is the best clue). However, in the hand the subtle differences are easier to spot. The Willow Tit (seen here on the left) has a slightly smaller head and has a pale panel on its wing. The black crown extends further down the nape than on the Marsh Tit (seen here on the right hand side) and the beak of the Willow Tit is completely black (there is some white on the upper mandible of the Marsh Tit)!

Marsh Tit and Willow Tit

Whitethroat seem to have had a good breeding season at Marne. These beautiful warblers have bright rufous wings which contrast with the rest of their plumage. The trainee ringers got to grips (eventually) with ageing these birds! The bird on the left hand side below is an adult and the one on the right hand side is a juvenile. One of the differences is the colour of the iris which is brighter and more colourful in the adult, the juveniles having a greyish iris which looks very dull.

Common Whitethroat

Other species ringed at Marne include Blackcap, Bullfinch and Kingfisher, a total of 86 birds in all.  If you would like an opportunity to see birds like these up close there is an event called 'Meet the Birds' tomorrow from 10.30am to 12noon at Foxglove. Please see the events section for details.


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