Had to get up this morning at 3.15 pm for bird ringing. That is really early. Luckily I became a bit used to getting up early in the morning, through the bird ringing! Everytime we drive to our ringing site we hope to see owls hunting in the dark in the farmland. Unfortunately we don't see owls that often. In the three years I've been ringing I have only seen: 2 Little owls, 2 Long-eared Owls and 1 Barn owl, that is not much since this farmland area east of Apeldoorn is occupied by quite a few pairs of Barn and Little owl. This night however I did see an owl! It was a nice Little Owl hunting next to the road. While sitting in the car and paying attention to owls I suddenly saw the remarkable flight of a Little Owl against the clear blue sky. So that was a nice start!
Our ringing site is always really mysterious by dawn. Often with sunrise one can find fog hanging above the ponds which make the sunrise really special (See pic of that a few messages back)
When we were finished with setting up the nets I went to check the nets. Usually, our first rounds don't result in lots of birds (unlike a ringing site in a reedbed area) But when I came across our final net I saw something blue hanging in it! A Kingfisher! Wow what a surprise. We were afraid that this CES we wouldn't be catching any kingfishers anymore because they froze to death this winter. Fortunately we trapped this one: it was a first calenderyear. Probably born somewhere along the IJssel.
Today turned out to be a good ringing day. We caught good numbers of Great + Blue tits (25,10) and we also caught some other youngsters such as: Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Marsh tit, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Reed Warbler (not full-grown yet!
Another surprise we encountered were young 3 Willow Tits hanging in the nets. This year -just like the kingfishers- no Willow tits were heard or seen at our ringing site. So it was nice to catch some Willow tits who roamed around with the other young tits. Below you can see the differences in Willow and Marsh Tits:
The upper one is a Willow Tit. You can clearly see a broad and sloppy jabot. The black feathers are much more spread to the left and right unlike Marsh tit.
In addition some other differences can be found:
Willow tit:On this photo you can see the lighter feathers on the secondaries. This makes it look as if it has got a lighter wing. Furthermore you can see the absence of white tip on the bill (see Marsh Tit below)
Marsh Tit: on this photo you can see the presensce of a white spot on the Bill and the absence of ''lighter parts'' on the secondaries.
Sound however is definitively one of the best identifying guidelines to check if it's a Marsh or Willow tit. As a ringer something you have to check is the distance between the first and last tailfeather. If it's less than 4 mm it's a Marsh Tit, if the distance is bigger than 5 mm it's a Willow tit.