Chris Bridge is now in his second year at Bangor University so is doing the fieldwork for his Dissertation project this summer ready for the wonderful ask of writing his paper! The project in question is - Does the Maturity and Experience of Adult Pied Flycatchers affect the fledgling rate of their offspring? - The way he wants to complete the fieldwork is to compare different ages of Pied Flycatcher. As these can be a bugger to age both in hand and in the field, Steve, Chris and I went up to Abergwyngregyn this morning to catch and ring both the adults and ring any pulli ready to be ringed. At the end of the morning, we had ringed 20 adults and 30 pulli (from 4 broods) which I was pleased about as I have never seen Pied Flycatcher in the hand and they truly are stunning birds!
20 adults later however, and I am still no further along with my knowledge of ageing Pied Flycatcher. Some continental migrants such as Willow Warbler, Pied Flycatcher etc undergo two full wing moults in a year, so there is no real contrast in immature and adult feathers when you look at them in hand. This means they go down in the book as a '4', as they cannot be aged. The thing with Pied Flycatchers is that they can actually be aged despite this, but I found them a terror to age!
I will be helping Chris with his 2 week study at the start of June where we will be observing nest boxes for 5 hours every day for 2 weeks. It's hard going cycling the 16 mile round trip and then walking the slippy hillside, but I am looking forward to it, as I don't think there are many places I'd rather be than sitting down with Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatcher and Common Redstart all singing within a 100 feet or so!