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!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The start of the season

Ringing in Flommen started on 21st July. Since then, we've ringed 910 birds, while the average is on 928, but we have been some days without ringing because of wind and rain.
So, this year seems to be preety good for the usual crew in Flommen (Acrocephalus).  Last year on 10th August, we had ringed just 637 birds so far (!). We keep on catching many Marsh Warblers (Acrocephalus palustris), we have already ringed 82 (and the average is 34)...

Different species, different character.
Marsh Warbler (left) and Reed Warbler (right)
Another special thing fort this season was our success with Wood Sandpipers (Tringa glareola). The pond in the southern round had a lot of muddy areas where a flock about 20 birds were foraging every day. We set up the cages there, and they started to go in.

First-years are easy to age, with this creamy and regular
spots around the whole plumege.
Also with the cages (and some in the nets as well!), we trapped 4 more Water Rails (Rallus aquaticus), and this first-year Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana)!

First-year Water Rails. Look how fast they moult body feathers, adquiring
an adult-like appearence already in early August. The iris colour gets reddish
and also the bill, losing black.
We also had another Rallidae species, this juvenile Coot (Fulica atra).

Passerine migration has been speacially good for Acrocephalus during last days, but still, we had this nice first-year Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio), with their usual very restricted postjuvenile moult (some examples of moulted feathers, pointed with yellow arrows).

Post-juvenile feathers still have a dark line on the tip. They
would be moulted again in the winter complete moult, so
they have what could be called 'post-juvenile pattern'.

The first Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia) for the season was trapped today, (bizarrely) in the upper shelf in one of the nets.

On the other hand, night wader/tern ringing has been less fruitful rather than last year at this time. The best for the moment were 2 adult Red Knots (Calidris canutus), an adult Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea) and 2 retrap Sandwitch Terns (Sterna sandvicensis) from other places in Sweden. Probably, most of adult waders and tern that should be migration throught the peninsula are just passing by and not stopping because of the nice weather that we mainly have. We need a change...

Red Knot (Calidris canutus), EURING 4 (2+).
1st-years do a partial post-juvenile moult and then migrate, and in winter they do
another partial moult that, seemingly, can include inner primaries, the outer ones
or all of them. Thus, if you have a bird that has retained nothing, the 'furthest you
can go' is a 2+ (EURING 4).
Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea), 2+ (EURING 4 ).
Following Elliott et al. 1976, a few 1w can moult all primaries like Red Knots do.
Adult (EURING 6 at least) Sandwitch Tern (Sterna
. At the end of this post from last year
I said 'I can wait...' ;)
Tree Pipits (Anthus trivialis) and Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava) are every day more common. And also some Two-barred Crossbills (Loxia leucoptera) had been seen migrating these days. The big stuff is still on the way!
But we'll be here all the time, from the sunrise to the sunset. Each one so different and special.


Friday, August 8, 2014


Last day before coming to Sweden I reached 2000 birds ringed in my usual place, l'Aiguamoll de la Bòbila. On 16th October 2013 I just ringed the birds 1000, so in a little bit more than half a year, I've trapped 1000 more.

This nice juvenile Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros), with is a scarce breeder in the lowlands, suddenly apperared when I was trying to catch the bird 2000. While I was ringing some before reach the target, it was just sitting beside me, looking what was doing. I though that would be great to ring it as the 2000 bird, and actually it was it!!

We also had this 1st-years Corn Buntings (Emberiza calandra), always with a Bobolink appearence, and starting the complete postjuvenile moult.

The last species to be added to the total list was an unexpected Common Swift (Apus apus) that was found on the floor, nobody knows why. I threw it away after ringing and it flew perfectly, and by this time maybe he is already crossing the sea...
Photo by Joan Manubens
This nice Bee-eater (Meroops apiaster) was also caught some days ago. They're always amazing birds to handle, and yeah, it could had been the 2000 bird, but I'm still really happy with the redstart!
Photo by Joan Manubens
Here you have the ringing totals, up to date:

Many thanks to everybody that has made this possible!!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Back to the jungle

Back to FLOMMEN!
One year after, I'm back to Falsterbo, in Sweden, to ring for two months. I'll be at the same place as last year, in the Flommen reedbeds.

This year, the reeds are filled by lots of insects. There's actually a big amount of available food there... and lots of birds that take advantage of it. We have already ringed more than 350 birds, and we are about 100 birds over the average. If you're interested, you can check the ringing totals every day in this page, in the tab "Ringing".

One of the surprisingly common species this season are Marsh Warblers (Acrocephalus palustris). We have trapped more than 50 birds, when the average in this time of the year is about 10 (!).

Another nice birds comparing with the last year have been 3 different Lesser Redpolls (Carduelis cabaret). The postjuvenile moult can be really limited, as is shown in this two birds, both EURING 5.

Second-year female: moult limit in the median coverts and
no pink feathers on breast.
Second-year male, with moult limit in the inner median coverts
and some pink feathers around breast and cheeks.
The third one to be caught was a first-year.

Also, we managed to trap the first Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) for the season! A quite nice first-year.

Migration has just already started, with a few very fatted birds every day and some 'pure migrant' species like Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra). Still, we're trapping many local breeders, such as this nice 2nd-year male White Wagtail (Motacilla alba). I guess the big migration with start in one week... So we have to keep the eyes opened!

Putting up the nets at 3.30 in the morning can be quite hard sometimes, but I've you're pleased by a really nice sunrise each morning while enjoying really nice company, everything is more than better.

Ah by the way!
We visited Copenhague before coming to Faslterbo. I'm not a great city-tourist but, to be honest, I really liked it...!