Friday, May 20, 2016

Spring stuff II

One of my favourite birds this spring was this cracking adult (EURING 6) male Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius). Indeed, I had never ringed this species, and it was quite on the top of my 'wish list'...
Adult (EURING 6) male
Sadly I've been quite busy all spring season, being not as much time as I would had liked to be in the field. Nonetheless, I think I have managed to do a lot of exciting stuff!

I've been quite lucky with Hoopoes (Upupa epops) this year. For instance, this retuning bird in my ringing place was very nice: retraps are very interesting in many terms, such the condition as 'proven age' individuals.
Adult (EURING 6), ringed as a 2cy (EURING 5) in 2015.
Also this interesting couple, sex determination can be harder with single individuals, but having both sexes side by side, it appears to be easier!

Female (left) and male (right). Compare the color on breast,
throat and face.

During a few days I visited Aiguamolls de l'Empordà Natural Park, on the right top corner of Catalunya, where a spring ringing campaign is working for the last few years. Check this link to see this year's numbers!
The campaign had the best season this year, and I really enjoyed the couple of days I spend there, with some interesting stuff...

Adult, 4+, (EURING 8) Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus).
Check the retained secondaries, with adult-type pattern.
Little Bitterns (Ixobrychus minutus) are also very interesting
and nice, I'll leave ageing comments for another day ;).
Keep in mind that sometimes they are a bit agressive...
Common Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) are even worse to handle,
not because they are dangerous, but they can turn a bit
disgusting while screaming... Anyway, they are gorgeous!

Matà marshes were very nice, filled up with birds!

Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
A quite late male Pintail (Anas acuta)
Then Stephen came for the weekend, and we went straight to another place, close to the ringing campaign, for another ringing morning. We got almost all species we could expect on a reedbed, this Moustached Warbler (Acrocephalus melanopogon) was particularly nice for both.


Stephen's visit was quick, and you'll find more stuff we did in his blogpost, but if I have to say something to resume it I guess it will be the Quail-catching afternoon. Indeed, I've been ringing some Quails (Coturnix coturnix) this year, but they will be kept for another blogpost, either mine of Stephen's... :)

Another thing I want to emphasize was Stephen's reflexion of the richness of birds here, compared to London countryside. Indeed, I have been thinking quite a lot about this... everywhere has it's very important value, even the most unknown or 'crappy' habitats in terms of numbers and diversity. The actual importance of local environmental protection areas is sometimes forgotten... so that's why, even living in a rather poor countryside in terms of birding, were the rare birds are not even national raritees, I am very proud of studying and doing my best to protect my area.
Related to these short thoughts, I had a very nice ringing day in my local patch, that was full of migrants! Again, we are not talking about the Ebre Delta, it's just a small wetland in the middle of very dry fields. Some captures were...
Whinchats (Saxicola rubetra) like fences between agricultural
areas, and there's where I trap them with spring traps.
Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus), the commonest
transaharan passerine so far in the area. This one had an
Italian ring!!
Melodious Warblers (Hippolais polyglotta) are common
in the area. Remember some have quite obvious white panels
on wing, resembling Icterine in the field...!
Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis)
Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin)
Female (above) and male (below) Western Subalpine
Warblers
(Sylvia cantillans iberiae).
Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca)
Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos), very common
in the area. This bird was ringed in 2012! Nightingale is so far
the species with more recoveries year to year.
Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia), very scarce
migrant in my place!
Adult (EURING 6) Western Orphean Warbler (Sylvia
hortensis)
, only the second record in my area. Although
some breeding pairs can be found rather nearby, it is
very difficult to see them as migrants.
For the last few years, some Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) pairs have arrived in villages and towns in drylands, quite far from the mountains. I was listening to a male every morning singing from my roof, so I decided to catch it. It was particularly easy, it took less than 2 minutes with tape and a clap net; and it turned to be a very interesting individual. In fact, it could be sexed safely as a male (since it had a very well developed cloaca), but it was a second-year (EURING 5) with no 'male plumage features' at all. An actual 'cairii'... Check this post about 'paradoxus' Black Redstart for more information about things matter.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Aquatic work

The last two months I have been ringing mostly in fluvial habitats and wetlands, pushing my waders to destruction! And I've got almost no time to write... Hope I can find some time from now on.

From the end of February to mid-March I focused to catch Water Pipits (Anthus spinoletta) in one of my local ringing sites in Central Catalunya.

Adult (EURING 6) Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta)
2nd-year (EURING 5)
Grey Wagtails (Motacilla cinerea) are common in the area, and I trapped a few as well.

Adult (EURING 6) male Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
2nd-year (EURING 5) female
On the other hand, White Wagtails (Motacilla alba) seem to be a bit clever, and I've only got one despite being one of the commonest passerines in the trapping area!
Adult (EURING 6) female White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
Other interesting stuff were this Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus), an adult (EURING 6):


And this 2nd-year (EURING 5) Crag Martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris). Compare with the adult (EURING 6) trapped last year in spring, in the picture below.

2nd-year (EURING 5) Crag Martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris)
Adult (EURING 6). Notice the lack of pale fringes in GCs
and tertials, plus the darker colour.
The 1st of April, friends ringing in the Balearics told me they got 5 Wood Warblers (Phylloscopus sibilatrix) early in the morning. We were surprised about the dates, quite early for this species, and we guessed that maybe it was going to be a very good spring for this species like last year was. I got even more convinced about this when I found one in the next netround!, but finally it's been a normal spring, nothing to see with last year. Probably, something happened that night between 31st March and 1st April...


Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) season it's been good in my area. As expected, all cyanecula...

Adult (EURING 6) female
2nd-year (EURING 5) male
2nd-year (EURING 5) male
2nd-year (EURING 5) male
2nd-year (EURING 5) male
2nd-year (EURING 5) male
Most male cyanecula show an obvious white spot, but a few
males can have this orange-tinged spot. Still, the base of
those feathers is white.
But on a weekend ringing at Aiguamolls de l'Empordà (NE Catalunya) I trapped this short-winged Bluethroat...

I went quickly to measure it: wing chord= 72mm, tail length= 50 mm. Being an adult (EURING 6) female, wing measurement it's just on the top limit for namnetum, but given the tail length plus the very short primary projection, it seems like a very good candidate!
Compare the size and primary projection between namnetum (left) and cyanecula (right).
Adult (EURING 6) female Luscinia svecica namnetum
It's interesting to notice also the amount of blue, and the wide and quite well-defined white spot; that fit with the age but may have some relation with the subspecies (at least the size of the white spot does!).

The main target that weekend was Aquatic Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola), and we succeded!!

The weekend also produced 3 Bitterns (Botaurus stellaris) and a Baillon's Crake (Porzana pusilla) plus several Spotted Crakes (Porzana porzana) singing around.
Ah, by the way, I have a new pair of waders to 'destroy'!