The Chiffchaffs were the first to be caught and ringed at Linacre this year. The first bird, ring number ECA340, was ringed by David from the Sorby Breck Ringing Group, at Linacre, on 20th April last year, as a 5, which means it was born in 2012. The other 2 Chiffchaffs were new, so hopefully, we'll retrap them later in the year and perhaps in future years too.
The Blackcap, a 5 male (born last year), was also caught early on this morning. The picture below shows this bird and the remaining juvenile brown feathers on the "blackcap"can just be seen. Whenever we catch migrants, we like to check their fat levels. The scale goes from 1- 8, and today's bird was assessed as a 5, which means it was fat! This stored fat, obviously, helps the bird when migrating, so chances are this Blackcap was still en route.
As stated above, this is our first record at Linacre, and much earlier than last year (21st April).
The other big bird news of the morning was our first record of Tawny Owls using the "owl boxes" that were put up in October 2011 (see here). They have been used by Mandarins in previous years, and hopefully the others will be this year as well, but we were very pleased to find this female sitting tight this morning. An empty eggshell was found on the ground below the nest box, so hopefully there'll be at least 1 chick this year. A brilliant record for the BTO's Nest Record Scheme.
After all the excitement we also caught and ringed/retrapped a good number of commoner birds (Blue, Great, Coal Tit, Chaffinch and Robin). My numbers were (new/retrap):
Coal Tit 1/2, Great Tit 2/2, Blue Tit 0/2 and Robin 0/2.
As well as the excellent birding we also spotted the first Cowslips of the year in the ringing area, along with dozens of Coltsfoot.
Several large queen Bumblebees were also flying about and feeding up on the Willow blossom. I think they were either White or Buff-tailed Bumblebees, but I couldn't get close enough to check.
Year List update:
115 - Blackcap