Monday, November 10, 2014

Stroke of luck

Do you know that feeling when you're extremely sure about something that you apparently don't know at all, and then it turns to be real?

This spring I met a really important person for me, and she showed me a pond 3 minutes walking from her house. We visited the place a few times and, despite being attached to her village (Navarcles), it seemed to be a nice place to do some birding. As this season has been really good for Yellow-browed Warblers (Phylloscopus inornatus) in Spain, and I would say especially good in Catalonia (with about 20 sightings or so), I started to feel a Yellow-browed in that place. So I went there, extremely sure I must see one. My veins were frozen when I heard it!

Photo by Sergi Fernández. Source: 
Some Moorhens (Gallinula chloropus) were around, and they were quite confident. Last time I wanted to ring one, it took me 21 days of fails to got it...
Maybe because of chance, maybe because of her luck, for the Yellow-browed happiness or whatever, I trapped one the following morning!

It was a first-year (EURING 3). If you check the post about the last I ringed you'll see how an adult (EURING 6) looks like in February!

Flight feathers are more rounded. 9th primary (outwards) is
narrow close to the tip, and the poorer quality of the juvenile
plumage is visible. Also I noticed some greenish tones on
wing coverts, scapulars and mantle that may be age related.
Juvenile-shaped alula
White on underparts, specially on belly, but also some
along the throat.
Tibia was less reddish than the adult bird
I remember. This should be just a secondary
Bill amb shield were adult-like coloured already. Iris
colour was quite dark, specially in the inner part. I guess
this bird born on the first clutch (or, at least, quite early),
because there were some bird with juvenile bill and plumage
still around.
This time I used a large-mesh 12 meter mist-net, that we set up crossing the river. As I said, the place is nice, and the idea is also great, so we trapped a Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus) too!


 It was an adult (EURING 6). HERE you can see some notes about a 2nd-year I trapped in spring, and some things about the moult strategy.
As you could see even in the field, white dots in upperparts and wing coverts are more difuse in this bird rather than in a juvenile. Tertials, for instance, have very small dots that contrasts heavily with the juvenile pattern.
Primary coverts are also very rounded, easy to see at first sight.
Following Cramp et. al. (1983), adults start the moult close to the breeding areas, during migration, or in the winter areas; a lot of possible combinations involving moult suspension. This bird was still moulting the 2nd and the 3rd primaries (inwards), with the outermost one retained. So, the outermost primary was retained, surprisingly not so worn. Also, secondaries 3 and 5 (inwards) were retained, not very worn and adult-shaped (that's why I aged it as a 6 instead of a 4). It was also interesting to see some feathers fresher than others, like the bird is doing a sort of partial moult when is still finishing the postnuptial. Theoretically they start the partial prebreeding in late December.

First postnuptial Green Sandpipers are seen in Catalonia in June, while last spring migrants are seen usually in early May (maybe there're some later ones...). I wonder if this bird is of the 'long-stayers' in Catalonia that starts the moult here (moulted primaries were all of the same generation, with no trace of suspension). I wonder if this 'long-stayers' are the firsts to leave in spring, and thus they start the prebreeding moult earlier.

You will see in the photo below the retained secondaries pointed with green arrows, and a 'new' feather with a red arrow:

A Mantis called Empusa pennata was also nice to see (and photograph). This is the nymph form, imago are green, with large wings, bigger and some other characters.

And, related to last post, I trapped another Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) with a foreing ring in the roosting I'm studing. This one was from Sweden, unfortunately not from Falsterbo...!

Many thanks to everybody (Bernat, Lídia, Laia, Biel, Ferran, Gemma and Joan) helping with the Reed Bunting's project. We've already ringed more than 370 schoeniclus this year!!, plus 3 foreign recoveries and 6 birds from last winter.

Friday, October 31, 2014


It's almost a month since I wrote the last post... But I haven't been doing nothing, precisely.
I guess I've ringed about 500 birds this month! Maybe for you is not that much, but keeping in mind that I've done it in my area, it is!!

As always we have a 'mainly sp.'. In my case, I've trapped basically Chiffchaffs (Phylloscopus collybita) and Reed Buntings (Emberiza schoeniclus), both species that I was targeting.
The third place of the ranking would be for Robins (Erithacus
This adult (EURING 4), carrying a ring from 2013's
autumn, is quite interesting for the big dots in GCs, simulating a
moult limit.
During the first days I was trapping about 40 Chiffchaffs/day, and I did my best to try to record the extent of the postjuvenile moult on, almost, all of them. I'm not gonna talk about this today, but maybe soon... (first I should take a look to all the data I've recorded!).

In my place it turned to be a good year for Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala). i've ringed some more birds, mainly first-years, thing that suggests me it has been a good breeding season for them.

First-year males are usually easy to age, even with binoculars
They usually moult all GCs in the partial postjuvenile, but
sometimes they also replace some secondaries and primaries,
and rarely they can do a complete or almost complete moult.
Females are a little bit harder, but if the moult is not so
extensive, is still quite easy!
(1st-year female)
Adult (EURING 4) male
It has been the time to catch some 'first for the season', as the first Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) and the first Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) this autumn.

It was also funny the combination of the last Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) (left) and the first Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) (right and below) in my place. I trapped them, unfortunately not in the same netround!

As the month was passing, more interesting species were coming. I was just laying on the grass, having lunch and talking with my classmates in University, when a familiar two-syllabled call attracted my attention. In fact, I shouted to my friends to shut up and I run away to find the bird, that obviously, turned to be a Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus)!
I managed to record it with the phone, here you have the best I got:

The bird finally stayed for a week, really nice to have it just in front of my class!

While ringing I also trapped nice birds. This juvenile male Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), a Magpie (Pica pica), a Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)...
Photo by Bernat Ferrer

But the best came to the end. I went to my usual place for Reed Buntings (Emberiza schoeniclus) last winter, and I got an unexpected day with 159 birds ringed! That was really crazy, and obviously, I trapped to foreign recoveries: one from French and another from Germany.

The whole day was indeed really nice. In total I got 193 birds, including another nice recovery: a Penduline Tit (Remiz pendulinus) from the Czech Republic!!

This one was not a foreig recovery, but still very nice bird!
Just a few days ago I went for the 'second round' in the Reed Bunting's roost, with 126 birds ringed, and 6 more controlled from the last day. No more recoveries for the moment, but the place and the numbers are promising! (Will any Little Bunting turn around?)

It has been a nice and exciting month for me, but maybe the best was concentrated in one morning. We tried to ring Skylarks (Alauda arvensis) during the night, using six 12-meter nets around a tape. I only saw one bird close to the tape around 3 o'clock in the morning, and it was a little bit dissapointing... But during the first netround after the sunrise, we trapped a really unexpected bird.

Yes!, this Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius meridionalis) was trying to eat my phone when it flew to the nets!
First-year. All GCs and T1 and T2 moulted. Seemingly, males
can be sexed if they have pitch-dark lores.
With a little bit of patience, we also got what we wanted: a Skylark was trapped in the nets as well!!

And also this nice male Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola), a good bird to end with this great month!
First-year male

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

One month backwards

Since I came back home, and as I also did last year, I started a ringing campaign in my usual place: l'Aiguamoll de la Bòbila. The 'start of the season' was nice, with 62 birds ringed, but it turned to be really slow the next mornings. Here, transaharan species are still the commonest migrants, and just the firsts presaharans are appearing. During my lasts days in Falsterbo, Robins (Erithacus rubecula), Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs), Goldcrests (Regulus regulus) and some other 'October birds' were already everywhere. I've 'won' an extra month of migration!
Nice surprise the first day of campaign...
Willow Warblers (Phylloscopus trochilus) were the
commonest migrants at the beggining,
Fortunately, we had some rainy days that changed the routine!
We managed to trap 4 Bluethroats (Luscinia svecica) in one morning, which in very nice for this inland place! All of them were first-years, three males and one female.


We also had the usual transaharan species: Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin)Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca), Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus), Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava)...
  And as it should be, first Robins (Erithacus rubecula) are here already!

Some local birds were also really interesting. This would sound weird, but I was starting to miss a Cetti's Warbler (Cettia cetti) messed up in the nets...
This nice adult male was ringed in the same place the
16/10/2011. I'ts nice to know he's still around!
Between the local birds, there are two species that their numbers fluctuate heavily between years, mainly depending on the harshness of the winter. They are Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala) and Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis). Both moulting primaries...

Some 1st-years (like this one) can do a quite extensive
postjuvenile moult, even more than in this bird.  
First-year starting a complete moult, that sometimes is arrested
in late fledgings.
This Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) was also quite nice (yeah... first was the Cetti's Warbler thing, and now...). It was a first-year with the postjuvenile moult already done, and it only retained the three inner secondaries!

Two weekends ago I took a breake in my usual place to move to the river. I wanted to catch Kingfishers (Alcedo atthis) moulting, but as it usually happens, I mainly got first-years...
Adult moulting primaries. Kingfishers start from P4 outwards
and P10 outwards as well.
Nonetheless, the river ringing was nice as well, with many Grey Wagtails (Motacilla cinerea) and a Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) caught.

1st-year with moult limit in GCs. The 3 outer ones are retained
I forgot to tell about a House Martin (Delichon urbicum) we trapped. It was a first-year with the partial postjuvenile moult already done. Unless I could imagine it, I didn't know the extension, that turned to involve just a few feathers.
Some in the head...
Nothing in the wing,,,
One uppertail covert

And, obviously, this Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) -scarce migrating bird inland- was a nice memory of Flommen ringing...

The campaign stopped also last weekend, when we went to the first Ebre Delta Birding Festival. It was a really nice fair, where I had the chance to meet a lot of friends and to hear really interesting speechs, like one from Killian Mullarney and another from Magnus Robb. Apart from the really nice environtment, we also saw some nice rarities, such as Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) (a birds that has been seen since late August), Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius) (really rare bird in Catalonia; was found the same day in the morning), and a Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos), nice species despite being a regular rarity. I'm already waiting for incoming editions of this birding festival!