Ageing dunnocks (Prunella modularis) is notoriously tricky. This bird’s feathers are glossy and deeply coloured, the buff tips to the greater coverts are only on the outer vane of the feather and the boundaries between the dark centres and the red-brown leading edges and the buff tips are well defined. Also there is no moult break within the greater coverts.
The tail feathers though worn – dunnocks undergo a complete moult in summer – are broad, glossy and strongly textured.
The tertials, primary coverts and alula are broad and rounded, the secondaries broad and square-ended – indicative of an adult, and the primary coverts do not show discrete black tips forming a short wing-bar which is typical of immature birds.
The iris though clear and bright is grey-brown as opposed to the red-brown/burgundy typical of an older bird.