Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ghosts doesn't exist

During last month I've been trying to catch Moorhens (Gallinula chloropus) in my usual ringing place, l'Aiguamoll de la Bòbila. I made up a kind of cages and I put some clap traps and I've been feeding this places. Moorhens found the food soon, and I decided to open the cages and try to catch them.

During the first morning I trapped a Coot (!), but no Moorhens around.
Two weeks later, moorhens managed every day to eat all bait and scape. In one of the cages was almost impossible to get in and then go out, but I don't know how the hell they managed to do it daily. The other trap have a platform and when a bird touches it, the door falls and the bird is trapped inside. Well, not Moorhens because they ate all the bait and scaped without activate nothing. Mission impossible.

I was very surprised, and I wanted to be sure that Moorhens were going inside the cages, and not mice or other things. I prepared an automatic camera... and the first bird I photographed was this Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea).

The next morning I got want I wanted. But... in the first photo there's only the cage, and in the following one, some bread has dissapeared and the Moorhen is outside the trap!! In addition of being quite clever, they are fast... Or maybe they are ghosts, or maybe ninjas.

21 days (!) after daily deceptions, but also improvings... I trapped one!!

The bird should be an adult (EURING 6), probably a female.

As other Rallidae species, adults undergo a complete postbreeding moult, and juveniles a partial postjuvenile moult. Also, both age classes have a partial prenuptial moult, usually quite restricted. I found Javier Blasco's notes quite interesting, take a look here (I've only found the Spanish version online).

9th primary (outwards) is quite wide close to the tip
Looking at the primary projection with the wing closed,
inner PP are very squared.
Bright red tibia and bright yellow tarsus.
All underparts are dark, with any white feather in between.
Look at the Javier Blasco's work, for more photos of different age-classes.
Following Cramp (1979) this bird may be a female by measurements. Also the shield was quite small and rounded. More 'significant' measurements are Bill lenght (to feathering on lores), tarsus lenght, middle toe lenght and wing lenght. Females are generally smaller than males.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Finishing holidays

Lasts days I've been so busy. I had to forget about a trip to Galicia (NW corner of Spain), and I only could do some birding one day and a half this last week of holidays...

Together with Joan Manubens, we had to do a visit in the Pyrenees, and we managed to go to Collegats during lunchtime.

In this place, an old road follows a river through a canyon. It's a typical place for Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria), and of course it was there!

We also saw 2 Lammergeiers (Gypaetus barbatus), and lots of Griffon Vultures (Gyps fulvus).
Days after, happy because of the wallcreeper, I encouraged Joan to join me in a one-day trip to Lleida steppes and drylands.

One of hour first stops was Utxesa lake, where we saw some Bearded Tits (Panurus biarmicus), quite close..!

There were 32 Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) too. Those birds come from a public park in Lleida, and are already breeding in this area...

Then we visited other typical places, seeing Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo), Pin-tailed Sandgrouse (Pterocles alchata) and lots of Calandra Larks (Melanocorypha calandra).

We also did a short visit to Montoliu dump, where I checked some gull's flocks looking for something. This place, during the winter, have hundreds of Black-headed Gulls (Larus ridibundus) and White Storks (Ciconia ciconia), and many central european birds are every year overwintering here. Also, there are always lots of Red Kites (Milvus milvus) and in some winters one or two Black Kites (Milvus migrans). The numbers of Cattle Egretts (Bubulcus ibis) are also impressive, I guess than more than a thousand.

The next stop was between Aspa and Castelldans, a typical place for Black Wheatear (Oenanthe leucura). We saw a couple, a nice lifer for Joan!

We moved to Ivars lake, but it was a bit windy and we didn't see anything special. Well, at least this Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) that I saw on Sunday was something different to finish the vacation. I had seen many photos of corone with some white on the wings, and always wanted so see one!