Monday, September 15, 2014


= 2048 fåglar av 43 arter

As you may guess, that means that we've ringed 2048 birds of 43 species since I'm here; 2036 birds in Flommen and 12 doing extre ringing in other places. As I've been doing collages in lasts posts, I couldn't avoid to do this one with some of the birds we've ringed.

The ringing team in Flommen was composed by Marcel, Per, Lídia and me during the first days, and then Per left and Stephen came. In the lighthouse garden, Caroline, Sophie, Linnea, Albin and Anton are currently working. As all of you know, I'm really happy to have spent this time with you. Tack så mycket for everything! Hope we'll meet again very soon!

During last days, since the start of September more or less, many presaharan birds appeared and the migration changed really fast. Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo) have been the commonest raptors together with Sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus), and while many transaharan passerines are getting scarcer, species like Robin (Erithacus rubecula), Dunnock (Prunella modularis), Goldcrest (Regulus regulus), and Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) are really common. That would be usual in early October, but we're still in September... It's a really weird season in terms of phenology, the migration peaks are coming between 2 and 3 weeks before the usual dates.

That's why in Flommen we're trapping some Dunnocks during these days. I really reccomend you this paper [Menzie, S. & Malmhagen, B. (2013). Ageing Dunnocks Prunella modularis using plumage characteristics. Ringing & Migration, Vol. 28, Iss. 1] to age them, because in the literature, when talking about Dunnock's ageing, the iris and the base of bill colours are pointed as the most realiable criteria.
1st-year, with7 OGC
We've been seen Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) everywhere, as well. I remember last year when I left on 9th September without see any Goldcrest around! We also trapped a nice first-year male in the reeds.

Apart from that, we trapped another species, probably the most unexpected bird in hand that we've trapped. An Eider (Somateria mollissima)!
We managed to catch it by hand, don't ask how... The thing is that is a 3+ (EURING 6) male.

It's not only a farewell with people and birds, it's a 'see you soon' for a place that I'll really miss...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Diversity in the reeds

Reedswamps meet three important functions in landscape ecology: They act as a structural element and as a food-plant for a highly specialized fauna (species protection), the rhizomes stabilize the sediment and the stalks dissipate the wave energy (shore protection), and they improve the conditions for an enhanced microbial decomposition of an external organic load and an elimination or fixation of nutrients (pollution control). Additionally, very large reeds can influence the ground water economy and the local climate. These functions are fulfilled to a high quality only by the common reed (Phragmites australis [Cav.] Trin. ex Steud.), depending on the vitality, the fitness for the habitat, stability in space and time, area, and diversification ofthe structural properties ofthe stand.
- Ostendorp, W. 1993. Reed bed characteristics and significance of reeds in landscape ecology. Act. Limnol. 5: 149-161.

Reedbeds have a huge important ecology role in many aspects. Focusing in the relation birds-reedbeds, many species depend on this habitat, and some others use it in many things, specially as a feeding or roosting sites. That's why, for instance, we're trapping many Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava) in Flommen during the last days, because they really like to roost in the reeds. Which place could be better than a reed's steam, protected from the wind and from many predators (because of the water around),  to sleep?
This reminds my the autumn of 2010, when about 12000 Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) came to roost one night in my local patch, l'Aiguamoll de la Bòbila. It was actually impressive the sound they generated, an amazing show. Even more when 3 Hobbies (Falco subbuteo) were chasing them together, cooperating to catch swallows easily.

Back to the present, we've been catching a nice assortment of species during lasts days. Reedbeds offer also a really suitable feeding place for many migrant species, because of the high densities of insects and other invertebrates.
Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)
Whinchat-like Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus),
pretending to be sexed as a male...
1st-year female Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
Adult male Redstart
1st-year Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca). Notice the
moult limit in the GCs in this bird, retaining the two outermost
First for the season: Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
Two more 'advanced' 1st-year Water Rails (Rallus
, with already adult-type body feathers
And more Wood Sandpipers (Tringa
Edible Frog (Pelophylax kl. esculentus)
But as I mentioned before, some species also depend on the reeds to breed. For example, the Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus). When I saw Flommen for first time, and I actually heard my first singing male schoeniclus, I realised that Flommen was exactly the kind of habitat they need to breed. During last winters I've been studying them wintering in my area, ringing them when they go to roost. Now I'm ringing them in the worn breeding plumage, in fresh juvenile, and also doing they correspondance postjuvenile or postbreeding moults.
Juvenile plumage. EURING 3
Doing the postjuvenile moult. Usually all GCs are involved.
Postjuvenile moult finished, late August. EURING 3
Adult (EURING 4) after the postbreeding moult. Some of
them can be tricky to age in September!
2nd-years doing their first postbreeding moult. Look how
worn they are before doing it!
Ah!, this is probably the best bird we've trapped this season... but it was actually caught in the lighthouse garden. A 'Thick-billed' Nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocaractes caryocatactes)!

Saturday, August 30, 2014


Unless we were trapping almost as birds as the average, one week without ringing because of the wind get us away from our goal to reach it. Nonetheless, we have almost ringed 2000 birds this season in Flommen, and we have also trapped many nice species! Of couse, the number of great memories we'll get from these days in huge, like the photo above, of the 'biggest full moon" this year.

Back to the birds, we've got quite a lot Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava) roosting in Flommen these days, producing many captures early in the morning. Stephen already posted something about them, probably more interesting that what I'm gonna show here.

Ageing flavas in autumn is not so difficult. Jenni & Winkler (1994) shows that the postjuvenile moult is usually quite restricted, involving none or a few inner greater coverts. Actually, the usual extension in first-years here in Falsterbo is about all lesser and median coverts, and just sometimes one or two GCs.
First-year (EURING 3), with lesser and median coverts
replaced, but none greater covert
Adult (EURING 4), with finished postbreeding moult
Notice differences also in plumage quality and the
shape of the secondaries. Adult left, first-year to
the right.
So as the age is quite easy, let's focuse is something a little bit more exciting: subspecies. There's one thing that every birder should keep in mind always, and that thing is variation. Specially if you're struggling to identify first-year Yellow Wagtail subspecies...

Let's start from the easy part. This nice adult male seems to be a usual thunbergi. But if you look at the one in the bottom, it's well-marked supercilium makes the thing more difficult. I'm not an expert about flava Wagtails but I wonder if these could be result of a mix with nominate flava (M.f.flava) or whatever.

Then, we have another adults, females in this case, that look like flava subspecies. In the photo below, the only adult male flava we trapped.

1w and adult females flava might recall iberiae because of
the white chin...

Going to the first-year birds, they might be mainly (if not all) flava and thunbergi. But some of them are, let's say, a subspecies mess...
A quite grey first-year, probably flava as well
These two birds above are quite odd, with black lores and
ear-coverts. Yellow supercilium... who knows what they
would be!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Hedgehog

We had some busy days in Flommen with more than 100 birds, mainly Reed Warblers (Acrocephalus scirpaceus). We even beat the average!, but today is the third day in a row that we can't ring anything, so if we don't have massive captures next days, we won't be able to reach the average again!
Among the amount of captures, we trapped one scirpaceus
from Belgium, and this one was from Latvia! (and it's a
The 'real' migration started just before this rainy and windy days, with already thousands of Tree Pipits (Anthus trivialis), Common Swifts (Apus apus) and hundreds of Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava) flying over during all day. We managed to catch some trivialis and the first flava for the season.

As I said, we had a lot of birds to ring these days, but not many variety. Apart from the usual Acrocephalus species (we have ringed more than 100 Marsh Warblers this season, by the way), we had 2 Grasshopper Warblers (Locustella naevia) and the usual stuff like Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis), Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)...

First-year Whitethroat (Sylvia communis), with moult limit
in the inner greater coverts (4 moulted).
In fact, the only 'unusual' birds we trapped were 2 Water Rails (Rallus aquaticus). One of them, defined as a 'Hedgehog-like' by Peter Olsson, was an adult doing its postnuptial moult. Water Rails do a complete postbreeding moult that is simultaneous, and they finish it in 2-3 weeks (while they're flightless). The thing that surprised me more was that it was moulting all wing (primaries, secondaries, all coverts, alula...) at the same time!!, giving this 'skeleton' impression.

Then, we trapped another adult, that hadn't started the moult yet. For me it looks like a second-year (EURING 5):
Those birds are usually not so worn, and I think that assess
the wear to age can be really hard. Nonetheless, the outer
primaries and the inner secondaries are very pointed, and
the tip of these feathers is not as wide as I would expect
in an adult.
The alula is more 'square-shaped' in adults, and sometimes
adults show some white spots on it. Compare, in the collage
above, how the shape of the alula is the same than other
first-year birds we caught.
Face and breast have some 'brown feathers in between,
just a very little few, but I would expect that in second-years.
The iris colour is orangish too.
Also, the chin have a lot of white, thing that
is also typical of second-years.
Back to the Hedgehog for one moment, look
how greyish is the chin. That was maybe a
3+ (EURING 6)...
It has been really windy during last days, so we went to visit Lund. It's a really nice city, with an awesome cathedral and a really nice botanical garden to point out something. The most surprising thing was indeed inside the botanical garden's greenhouse, and it was a new species for me...

Asian Blue Quails (Excalfactoria chinensis) lives inside
the botanical garden!! It's nice to see them running everywhere!