Saturday, August 30, 2014

Yellow


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
1st-year!)
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
sandvicensis)
. 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.