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!

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)!