Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Flycatchers at the Falls

After a tiring day ringing Chough Pullus around the Isle of Anglesey, I opted for some more relaxed ringing. Seeing as though Steve and Rachel had the day off, I met up with them at Aber Falls the next day to do some more work on my 3rd year dissertation project.

My question for my dissertation is as follows:- 'Does the Maturity and Experience of Adult Pied flycatchers affect the fledging rate of their offspring'? Basically, I want to find out whether age differences in these birds affects the fledging success of their offspring. So, do age 5 birds find it harder to raise their young to the fledging stage or do age 6 birds do better?

The mornings aims were to catch, ring and correctly age as many adult Pied flycatchers as we could. Throughout the morning a total of 20 adults were caught as well as 30 pulli ringed from just 4 broods - great stuff!

Pied flycatchers undergo 1 complete wing-moult in a year, much like the Willow Warbler, so ageing this species can be rather tricky. Age 5 birds are aged on feather wear on tail and primary tips. However, pointed primary coverts are also a handy clue to the birds age, if none of the other apply.

Age 6 birds are aged by having broad, square shaped tail feathers, rounded primary tips and primary coverts. So at times, a few birds had to go down as (Age 4), simply because there just wasn't enough evidence to positively give them a correct age.

From 28th May until 16th June I spent every day at Aber Falls sat watching my specified 10 or so nestboxes, recording the amount of times the adult male and female visited the nest with food. Some days weather conditions were atrocious, whereas some days it was glorious. Adding the constant buzz annoyance of the midges, a 16 mile round trip each day for 20 days - June was somewhat shattering!

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