Continental Goldfinch?

30th November 2010 – cold with a light sprinkling of snow overnight NE3/4
Following on from a record breaking October, the dedication of the small ringing team again produced fitting rewards with another excellent monthly ringing total involving 291 birds of 18 species trapped and ringed on the island during November. Individual species totals involved Goldfinch (97), Greenfinch (57), Chaffinch (33), Blackbird (27), Tree Sparrow (18), House Sparrow (15), Long-tailed Tit (12), Song Thrush (9), Wren (5), Starling (5), Dunnock (4), Robin (2), Brambling (2), Goldcrest (1), Blackcap (1), Lesser Redpoll (1), Sparrowhawk (1) and Twite (1). This number has only been surpassed once before when 307 birds were captured in 1983 when totals were dominated by a heavy Greenfinch passage which account for over half the birds caught.

Amongst the birds caught this month was a male Goldfinch with a wing length of 85mm and a weight of 19.6g. This would appear to be the easily the largest Goldfinch ever caught on Walney Island with the biometrics suggesting it may have been of the continental race Carduelis carduelis carduelis from northern, central and southeast Europe which averages larger than the British race Carduelis carduelis britannica.

In Sweden wing measurements for males vary from 76-89mm and Britain 76-82mm (Svennsson 1992) while measurements on British ringed birds average 79.3mm (76-82mm n16530) with an average weight of 16.1g (14.3-18.1g n12823) (BTO Ringing Scheme Data 2005).