Monday, October 21, 2013


Last Wednesday, 16th October, was a really special day for my usual ringing place, l'Aiguamoll de la Bòbila. The first ringing day ever in this place was in the 16th October 2011, when I was just learning how to ring. That day, Joan Pujol and Miquel Batriu came, and we trapped 28 birds. I'll never forget the first bird, a first-year male Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)...

As I was saying, this Wednesday I reached 1000 birds ringed there. It's just a simple and low number if we compare with other places, but keep in mind it's a really small place inland Catalonia, and more that 900 birds have been ringed during the current year. Also, I'm glad for the nice number of species ringed, a total of 65. You can see a summary at the end of the post.
Robin (Erithacus rubecula). Bird 1000! 
Also, on Wednesday I trapped a Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis) there. It's a common species when they're in active migration, and actually I had never expected to catch one 'easily'. Looking at the bird properly, it probably had some problems with a Sparrowhawk or something when it was migrating, and now it have to recover energies to reach Africa. As you can see, all secondaries in both wings were missing (!), and the bird also had a heal injury in the body. It will be in l'Aiguamoll de la Bòbila for some days...

Last weekend I also was ringing there, both days. On Saturday I had a nice day, with lots of Chiffchaffs (Phylloscopus collybita) ringed. I've been recording the extension of the postjuvenile moult in wings and tail for every bird.
Typical R1 pair moulted in the postjuvenile moult. 
Moult limit in GCs and in Tertials! It's interesting to see how
 the extension can change among individuals...
During these days, lots of presaharan species are arriving. Blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla) and Song Thrushes (Turdus philomelos) are, together with the Chiffies, the commonest species. Song Thrushes are specially easy to heard during all night, because they use to call when migrate. I've already heard more than 100 birds during the last 4 days (and without spending more than half an hour each night!). Nonetheless, some transaharan birds are still around...

The best bird of the weekend was this 1st-year male Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), that finally found on the nets! (I had been seeing it for the last few days flying around...).

Both Tree Pipit and Sparrowhawk were first ringed birds in the place. In the beggining of October I also trapped a new species to be ringed, a Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea).

This autumn I've already ringed 7 Bluethroats (Luscinia svecica), a really nice surprise. 4 of them were ringed in September, during a 'mini ringing campaign' that I did, and the rest had been trapped during October. It was a great surprise the 8th svecica, that was carrying a ring from Germany!! It's the third 'foreign recovery' this year in this place, after a Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) from Poland and a Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) that was found in France after being ringed in my place.

'Helgoland Germania'
Here you have the ringing totals, uptaded yesterday:

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Strong feelings

Last Friday, 27th September, I drove to my small part of paradise: Cuberes.  During these days, a really impressive scene takes place. I'm talking about the Red Deer's heat period. I arrived quite late in the night, but I could see some Red Deers from the track, and of course, I could hear some.

Probably I'm just in love just this place. Besides the Cuberes Refuge, that is probably my 'second home', you can find an amazing combination of forests, meadows, peat bogs and some other habitats, that makes a really special area. I've been visiting this place for lots of years, since I was a kid, and yeah, I actually need to go there some times every year. Everything there is just part of me amb my life!!

Last autumns I passed great times there, but for this time I felt I needed to be very close to male Red Deers, to enjoy the show 'from the first row'. On Saturday, I managed to be quite close to some active bellowing males, and I finally got one just 15 metres in front on me. Male Red Deers are a bit crazy when they're in heat, and sometimes they just ignore you. He was staring me at the same time I was staring him during some minutes. It's impossible to have sense of time when this things happen. Then he just left walking, slowly, throught the dense forest. It was impossible to take any proper photo, but the feeling, the magic feeling of meeting him, it's more than enough.
I continued finding some male Red Deers during the morning, sometimes just quick views, but it was quite good. Also, 3 immature Lammergeiers (Gypaetus barbatus) were flying together above the valley.

Up in one of the highest point in the closest moutain range, I saw more Lammergeiers, a bright orangish adult and this 2nd-year, some Sparrowhawks (of course...), Hobbies (Falco subbuteo) and Short-toed Snake Eagles (Circaetus gallicus) migrating South. Also about 500 House Martins (Delichon urbicum), about 150 Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) and 2 Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava). It was quite funny when I heard flocks of Common Crosbills: I just stopped and heard carefully, waiting for a Two-barred calling among them. Of course I didn't heard any, but this proves that I'm still affected for the 'Falsterbo syndrome'...

As I saw some migrants, I decided to go to another place in the afternoon, good for Deers and also for migrant birds. The best sighting was, without any doubt, this adult Osprey (Pandion haliaetus). It's the first time I saw this species there, so it was kind of special! Also I saw a Black Vulture (Aegypius monachus), probably from the reintroduction project.

Lots of people come to the Refuge every year in September to hear and try to see some Deers. Usually they are people that is not used to be in this kind of places, and they are all day 'screaming' and making noise. Probably because of this Sunday's morning was quite boring, almost any Deer was bellowing close to the refuge valley. Also, lots of clouds pretended to scare me... but finally, no rain and most of the people left in the midday. At least, I saw some nice birds during the morning:

As it was my last chance to enjoy what I was looking for, I went to the best place I knew. Just when I arrived there, I found two nice males and I decided to hide myself between some bushes. About an hour later, this male appeared just 5 metres besides me. I was completely motionless then, and he didn't notice me, so when it was a bit further, I managed to take some photos.

I spent an hour more there, and althought I saw some males more, all of them were 'young' males, not the huge bellowing males with big horns that I wanted to see. One of these big males had been all afternoon bellowing quite close (in fact, I was waiting for him...), but as he didn't appear, I decided to go straight to him. Walking slowly and carefully through the forest, I got quite close. I was hearing him as loud that I was trembling every time he was bellowing. It was getting darker and it was really difficult to take proper photos, so I turned off my camera to be more concetrated with the show.
Suddenly, I realised I was just surrounded by females, so I guessed I was just in the middle of that male's 'territory'. Then, some 'satellite males' (as I call the young ones that are not bellowing, just trying to find a female and to skip the big male) appeared, and the big male got almost crazy. He started to pursue them, and also a small fight took place, just in front of me. Minutes later, another big male arrived, and the tension could be noticed in the air. Both big males started to bellow stronger and to run thought the woods...
The night arrived and I had to leave, but I'm sure I'll never forget those magic strong feelings, and the huge privilege of being there, just looking from 'the first row'.

Monday's morning was time to say goodbye again. Lots of new great experiences will be already coming. Great experiences that are, probably, my drug.
Morning's sunrise. Time to promise, one more time,
that I'll come back very soon.
And as always, a huge amount of great memories
appeared on my mind, on the way back to the routine.
Magic memories that I'm sure I'll never forget.