13 July 2015

Another Hawfinch season over

With the short Hawfinch season over, it was time for Jerry Lewis to reflect on how it had gone this year.

After his best ever season last year, 2015 had been a "bit slow" with just 94 birds ringed, and 34 recaptured from previous years (but good quality data for the RAS). One bird however was particularly noteworthy and was Jerry's second record of an eight year old bird. The previous bird (see here) could not be individually identified so its age could have ranged from a couple of weeks under eight years, to a few days over. On 2nd June, RSPB researcher, Rob Hughes, was watching one of the feeding sites, and saw a male with a white colour ring (which was unusual as orange rings had been used for the previous two years).

Mystery Hawfinch by Rob Hughes

While doing some routine mist netting with Will Kirby and Andy Stanbury, they caught the bird on 3rd June, and Jerry caught him again on 18th. It turned out to be NW31557, first ringed on 27 April 2007 at the same feeding site. In the intervening years, he had been caught three times in April 2009 (at the same site), and once more on 26 May 2013 (at a feeding site some 15 km to the south). His original single colour ring was missing on this last recapture, and he was fitted with a new inscribed colour ring - white inscribed with ZH. There is no way of knowing where he has spent most of the intervening years, but he had obviously not been regularly visiting any of the feeding sites. The latest capture is probably (see below) a new UK longevity record at 8 years, 1 month, 22 days.

Hawfinch by Rob Hughes

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