Wednesday, February 25, 2015


That's exactly what Yasmina lake is: an oasis. For a bird (let's imagine a tiny one, a Willow Warbler for instance) that just has crossed the sandy Sahara, a small (or not that small...) lake, with some tamarisks to hide in and eat some stuff before continue its travel, must be like a paradise for them.
For more information of the ringing campaign and birds around Yasmina, click here.

It actually is a paradise even for people (at least for me). Just take a look...

Maybe you've been surprised by the amount of water in the lake. The place gets flooded with heavy rains and it can take some years to be full again. Now, the lake got flooded on late November, and is supposed to keep some water until June or maybe later!

The lake had some Coots (Fulica atra) displaying, Little Grebes (Tachybaptus ruficollis) and a couple of Crested Grebes (Podiceps cristatus).

Also, between 2 and 4 Ruddy Shelducks (Tadorna ferruginea) came every morning to spend the day in Yasmina.

Going back to the migrating Willow Warbler's mind, le'ts focuse on the friends it will make during its stopover in Yasmina. Ok, February is still a bit early for trochilus... we'll think like an Iberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus ibericus) then.
Ibericus are, probably, one of the firsts transaharan species to stop in Yasmina. Down there, they're specially common in passage during February, and it was the main target of our ringing campaign.

Just to make the days more intense, Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) is a common wintering species in desert places like this one. So, without any aim to be very concise in ibericus/collybita ID, I'll put some photos below.
Ibericus. Depending on the light, camera's WB and some
stuff, they can look quite different...
Second-year (EURING 5), with some outer primaries moulted
Ibericus to the left, collybita to the right
Collybitas are not the only presaharan species that reaches the desert. Especially in February, you can see migrating some nice species that maybe you wouldn't expect, like Sardinian Warblers (Sylvia melanocephala).

White Wagtails (Motacilla alba) from the nominate subspecies alba are also common.
Adult (EURING 6) male
Second-year (EURING 5) male
We got this nice male Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola) too...

As transaharan species to mention, there was quite movement in Swallows. We trapped some House Martins (Delichon urbicum) -the commonest-, a Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) and this very nice Red-rumped Swallow (Cecropis daurica). We saw a few Sand Martins (Riparia riparia) too!

We also had this nice cinereocapilla Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava)

3 Hoopoes (Upupa epops) too!

Some Sedge Warblers (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus), that are more likely to be trapped when the lake has water.

And this adult male Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica cyanecula), also a water-related species in Yasmina.

It's not fair to end the post without an ode to these flowers that grow in the middle of the sand and that host many birds that really needs something to eat to reach their breeding grounds.

And, obviously, sedentary birds also deserve some lines. House Sparrows (Passer domesticus), Collared Doves (Streptopelia decaocto)...

We trapped some birds, and we found some 'head-shape
and colouration differences between sexes (presumably).
Male to the right and in the bottom, respectively.
Laughing Doves (Streptopelia senegalensis)...

White-headed Wheatears (Oenanthe leucopyga)...
I could take proper photos of it, but, unexpectedly, this male Desert Sparrow (Passer simplex) appeared very close to us, coming to eat some dromedary shit in Yasmina Hotel!!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Squeezing the winter

My feeling is that, this winter, has been quite calm in terms of birding in Catalonia. Actually, many of the usual 'nice species' we get inland didn't came, as it has happened with the Jack Snipes (Lymnocryptes minimus) and Bramblings (Fringilla montifringilla), to say a couple of examples. Take a look at these 3 maps of Bramblings in Catalonia:

From 1st September to 23rd February in all years.
Just to emphasize a little bit: during December I missed some Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs) around my place, but after some very cold days in January, I found flocks of hundreds making a total about 1400 birds around, which are nice numbers here. Nonetheless, and despite my efforts to find one, I've only seen one female Brambling in the hole winter here!!

So, even it has not been the best winter ever, there are many quite interesting thing to look at or to spend time with.

If you know me you won't be surprised if I tell you i've been pursuing ringed Mallards in my area. I suddenly saw a bird ringed in Navarcles, and I finally managed to take photos of the ring. This was on 04/02/2015, and the bird turned to be ringed in my local patch on 24/04/2014, 6 knm away. OK, that's not an amazing recovery, not even surprising, but I hope you can understand I'm happy with it. (remember, this winter is a bit boring...)

As you may imagine, ringing sessions has not provided any very exciting thing, but I'll put some pictures anyway.
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
Second-year (EURING 5). Look how restricted can be the
postjuvenile moult.
Adult (EURING 6), with the middle alula retained!

Second-year (EURING 5) 
Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
Some Serin (Serinus serinus) things too... An adult male in the top photo, second-year male below.

The same (or something similar...) with male Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs). Adult on the top, second-year below. The tail is from the adult!

2 OGCs...
Well, I actually trapped one very nice bird. A flock of Penduline Tits (Remiz pendulinus) has been wintering in my usual place, l'Aiguamoll de la Bòbila, and as this species has been providing very nice information with recoveries (2 foreign birds out of less than 10 ringed), it was worth to try to catch them.

We trapped 9 birds and, perhaps not surprisingly as I was saying, one of them was carrying a foreign ring... Italian!