21 April 2015

Elusive Hawfinch 'shows a bit of leg'

Chris McGuigan writes:

I recently received an email from Barry Farquharson, a local birdwatcher who has become rather good at reading - and photographing - colour-ringed birds (usually gulls).

This one was different though, it read: "Going through some fairly poor photos from Scone Palace, Perth, I've managed to find a ringed Hawfinch in one, although unfortunately only one leg is visible. I assume it will be a local bird, but just in case.... Looks like red over orange on the right leg."

In actual fact, in the photograph (see below) you could just see the other leg too which looked like 'black over metal'.

Colour ringed Hawfinch. Photo by Barry Farquharson

Armed with this information and suspecting it had been ringed locally (but some time ago) I contacted Neil Morrison as well as the BTO 'Hawfinch colour-ring data coordinators'. Neil confirmed that he hadn't ringed any in recent years but that his records were all in storage. Eventually he was able to confirm that this female bird had been ringed at Scone Palace on 17th February 2007, as a probable first-year bird. Thus 2 days short of 8 years had elapsed from capture to re-sighting, becoming one of the oldest Hawfinch recorded in the BTO Ringing Scheme.

Well done to Barry who I'm sure will be pointing his camera at birds' legs even more in future!

Ed. note - the Online Ringing Report (ORR) shows that only 58 Hawfinches were ringed in 2007 so this is a great record. The ORR, including the longevity records, will be updated in July to include 2014's data. It remains to be seen whether this bird will become the longevity record holder at that point!

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