Monday, October 24, 2011

Autumn migration: Ringing mostly!

Passerines were to be the highlight this autumn both as Raptor migration ended early this year and in terms of numbers it was a poor passage and as I was often at Simar and spent a weekend on Comino were ringing is the main activity.

7th October: A Red-breasted Flycatcher down in Buskett valley made everyone happy, not only being scarce but quite a nice species.

12th October: Unfortunately too long gaps in birding thanks to having started university but at least two mornings off for birding! Went to Qawra, Etna visible and a full moon producing a small passage of ducks. 21 Pintail followed by another 5, 5 Shoveler and 2 Common Teal. 4 Linnets migrated overhead.

14th October: Quite a lot of activity at Simar: 3 Snipe, a Dunlin, fishing Kingfishers, Little grebe, Water Rail and a Common Teal. The best was a Yellow-browed warbler tough! Present for the last week nearly. Had not seen this almost annual autumn vagrant for a while now so it was about time I caught up on one. Other passerines where a Grey Wagtail, first Stonechats, a Subalpine Warbler, Gardern Warbler, first Chiffchaffs and a Great Reed Warbler amongst others. My first time ringing myself, thanks to a few Spanish Sparrows being cought, got also to ring a Robin and garden Warbler...needless to say I was extremely happy!

19th October: Simar again. A nice gathering of wildfowl present, best being a female Pochard, a species I had failed to see since 2007. Moreover an adult Pintail and 7 Common teals. Did not get to ring anything myself, but seeing a 1st year Bluethroat in the hand was great all the same! First time there were a good number of Chiffchaffs too.

1st year male Bluethroath! Great bird!

20th October: Up to Buskett after uni, an uninjured Scops Owl was to be released after being found on the side of a busy road. Amazing bird and good to see it fly off well. A Merlin was on the hunt for the numerous passerines in the valley. The last peak of Swallows with 400 gathering before dusk, as well as 150 House Martins. 8 Sky larks settled shortly in front of us, first Dunnock, 10 Chaffinches and a Linnet.

21st October: Day off! Started early at Simar. Lured a Grey Wagtail into the nets with mp3, my first in the hand and got to ring it myself. Furthermore ringed a Reed Warbler which we concluded was a of the subspecies fuscus. Quite a few Blackcaps in the olive orchard which I was happy to ring a few of!

In the evening we set of being nearly the whole gang of young birders, for a weekend on Comino. arrived a bit late for any real birding and the ringers present were closing the nets for the night. Had a delicious grilled suasages and burgers tough before we tried to sleep full of excitement for the two days to come!

22nd October: No luck with any Scops owls or nightjar at twighlight, but quite a few birds after that. Mostly Robins, but a few Song Thrushes, Starlings, Skylarks, Blackcaps and Stonechats gave a good mixture. Showers meant that we ahd to close the nets a few times but still got up to 87 birds ringed in total.

23rd October: Another futile early start, but once the sun was shining its first rays of light over the island something interesting was found in the net. Extracting it i tought it was a female Redstart, and was content at that. But when taking measurements it became apparent it was too small for a Common Redstart. There was only one possibility left! Moussier's redstart! 12th record of the species and the first ringed! Shortly afterwards yet another was cought from the same net! Must have come in together with the southerly winds! Needless to say the atmosphere around the station was happy one!

The lack of cloud cover resulted in the nets becoming too visible as the sun rose higher on the sky and the number of birds cought decresed to nearly none per round. We flushed a Nightjar but it managed to evade the nets. Still it was an amazing weekend, got to ring 40 birds myself which I couldn't grumble about and in great company! Even better this evening I'm off for another weekend on the island!

1st year female and male Blackcap!

One of 4 Skylarks ringed.

One of two Moussier's Redstarts, 1st year female, and a fiirst record in the hand for Malta!

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