Tuesday, October 27, 2015

End of October, already

Time is flying, and I still don't have time enough to post all the stuff I would like to!!
Leaving many things hidden in my computer, this post will be about last week, birding around my place in central Catalunya.

Very little few transaharan migrants are still around Catalunya, mostly Swallows, Common Redstarts (Phoenicurus phoenicurus) and Reed Warblers (Acrocephalus scirpaceus). On the other hand, these dates are especially good for presarahan migrants: Blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla), Robins (Erithacus rubecula), Song Thrushes (Turdus philomelos) and Chiffchaffs (Phylloscopus collybita).

Now it is also the best time here for migrating Firecrests (Regulus ignicapilla). Sexing is like in Goldcrests (Regulus regulus), but females usually have pale orangish crown, not completely yellow as in female Goldcrests.
Female. Crown feathers are orangish but not brightly coloured.
Male. Even without showing all crown feather, orange is very
It seems it is going to be a good year for both European Siskins (Spinus spinus) and Hawfinches (Coccothraustes coccothraustes), both species that have different abundances depending on the winter. I have personally seen them usually during last weeks, and I even had the chance to catch this very nice adult male Siskin.
Last days have been also especially good for Stonechats (Saxicola rubicola) around my area.
First-year (EURING 3) male. All GCs and tertials moulted.
First year (EURING 3) female. All GCs and tertials moulted.
First-year (EURING 3) female. All GCs and two tertials moulted.
First-year (EURING 3) female; with 3 outer greater coverts
Adult (EURING 4) female.
Meadow Pipits (Anthus pratensis) and Water Pipits (Anthus spinioletta) are also appearing on migration and, some of them, reaching the wintering grounds. From the latter species I trapped two individuals last week, and one of them turned out to be a retrap from February!
First-year (EURING 3). Only a few lesser coverts are moulted
in the postjuvenile moult. The extension, as it happen also with
the Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) is quite variable, involving
a few inner GCs and tertials sometimes.
Adult (EURING 4)
The same river place provided also a first-year Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) and 5 Kingfishers (Alcedo atthis).

I had also some very unexpected birds!
One Scops Owl (Otus scops) was still around last week, being the latest record in my area so far. It was a first-year (EURING 3), with fat score 5!
Pale coloured flight feathers, with faint pattern and pointed tips
are typical of first-year birds, Below, tail show very diffuse barring,
almost lacking the black bars. In spring, birds can be age on the same
characters, but with more wear on the feathers.

The last Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia) I saw in my local patch was 5 years ago. Last Saturday, this first-year (EURING 3) female was unexpectedly caught for ringing!, being the first ringed in my place.
As many Emberiza species, all GCs where moulted. Moult
limit is especially easy to see in this second picture, being both
carpal covert and the smallest alula feather moulted.
Faint dark marks and cold tones overall make this bird a female.
Also, the first ever ringed Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor) came on Sunday.
Sex is quite easy, being this bird a male on the reddish feathers
in the forehead. Ageing is a bit more difficult. This bird is a
first-year (EURING 3), with new primaries, lesser, median and
most of the greater coverts and small alula feather moulted.
Pattern of unmoulted secondaries, tertials and primary coverts are
 the most striking features on ageing this bird.
Also, the central pair of tail feathers were moulted. See
differences in wear, but also texture (quality) between
the two generations.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


During last month I have got almost no time at all to sit and write something. Among the amount of stuff I could post about, these birds deserve a place in the first one.

Raptor migration is Falsterbo is always very exciting. Numbers of many species are just impressive, Sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus) for instance.
While working on the standardised ringing scheme in Flommen reedbeds, we trapped some Sparrowhawks in a extra net placed close the one of the very few bushes on the area. It turned out to be quite succesful!
First-year (EURING 3), the commonest age class so far.
Second-year (EURING 5) female, in active primary moult.
But the best bird we trapped was another raptor species, that was only the 6th ever trapped in Falsterbo Bird Observatory: a Merlin (Falco columbarius).
The last one to be trapped was in 2011, when Stephen was in Falsterbo for first time. Actually, he just came for a visit when we got the Merlin!
First-year (EURING 3) male
That was a very nice bird, but even more surpsised were coming in the next days. 10th September was actually a very nice day. Early in the morning, during the first netround, we trapped an unexpected Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus) in the reedbeds!
That is the earliest record ever in the Falsterbo peninsula, being the previous record at 13th September. Hours later, we found another Tajgasångare in the bushes close to our ringing hut!, and actually, Jonas Ekwall found a third individual that afternoon!!

The best was yet to come. Back to the station, we went for a walk around Falsterbo Park with Josefina. As is usual by this time of the year, many first-year Hobbies (Falco subbuteo) fly around, hunting dragonflies. They can actually be seen at close range sometimes!
We were saying it would be very nice to catch one... but of course it was difficult. A few minutes later, while walking through a quite dense part of the park, we suddenly heard a Falcon screaming behind of us. A big Falcon landed with a prey on the feet like 30 metres far from us. The first thing that attracted our attention is that the other bird, the supposed prey, was still alive and it was actually another Falcon!
A quick look with the binoculars revealed they were two juvenile Falcons, a Peregrine (Falco peregrinus) and a Hobby (Falco subbuteo). The Peregrine had clearly hunted the Hobby, but the latter was still alive and fighting to survive. Without almost no hopes for it, we started running to try to catch them. And we trapped them by hand.
First-year (EURING 3), unsexed. There's some overlap between
both sexes in Hobby. 
First-year (EURING 3) male. Sexed on measurements.
The Hobby (Lärkfalk in svenska) was the 7th ever ringed at Falsterbo Bird Observatory, and the Peregrine Falcon (Pilgrimsfalk in Svenska) was actually the first ever ringed!!!, and also the species number 200!! Could anything be better??