Saturday, November 19, 2011

November, a good month for ringing!

4th November, an other early start, but eager for another session of ringing at Simar. First catch included two Reed Buntings together with the usual Chiffchaffs and Robins, plus a Stonechat . Later I found a Moustached warbler in the net, a bird I was happy to add to the species I've ringed. Another Reed bunting too, this was going great! My first Wryneck, and a late Willow warbler made it 3 new species for the day! Ended off with yet another Moustached Warbler and a Song thrush.  A total of 73 birds ringed for the day.
After ringing we went for a seawatch which had it not been for a last minute find of a Short-eared owl would have been futile!
Chiffchaffs dominated on the 9th November, at Simar once again with 48 ringed in all. Two White Wagtails and two Reed buntings which I got to ring one of each was definitely the more exciting species. Even more when I had never seen a White wagtail in the hand.
A day of impatient waiting for the next session on 11th  November, one to highlighted by yet another species I had never ringed...Firecrest...3 of them! Only my second Grey wagtail and a Reed bunting made the morning even the more worthwhile. The Moustached Warbler ringed on the 4th November was retrapped. This was probably a record year for Moustached warlers at Simar, to date 6 have been ringed in total. 41 Chiffchaffs, 8 Robin, 3 Blackcap and a Sardinian warbler complete the picture for the day.
Not long to wait for the next session...the next day 12th November at Ghadira. Record of Dunnocks with a total of 37 of which I was extremely happy to ring 18, being a species not frequenting often on the list of Simar. The rest was mainly Chiffchaffs,  a few Robins and a Stonechat.
15th November, an evening session this time at Simar, coming cycling full speed from university. Not that it wasn't worthed! Got to ring a nice 1st year male Blackbird and a Song thrush in the first 10 minutes. Retraps of a Robin ringed last year and a Chiffchaff ringed last year February gears you on to continue ringing seeing the point of it all!
Yesterday 18th November at Simar was rather quiet, probably too much wind. 8 Chiffchaffs, 3 Robins, a Dunnock, a Blackcap and a Spanish Sparrow was all. A large flock of around 80 Mediterranean gulls ans few Black-headed gulls flying over the reserve being blown in by the wind are worth mentioning.
In the evening went to the Airport in hope of seeing Lapwings and Golden plovers, but got something better! Just before leaving spotted a raptor shortly soaring in the distance before it took a glide in the opposite direction from us. Called some birders in Buskett, who got better views and confirmed it as a Red kite! A rare bird of prey on our shores, and my first. Unfortunately it was seen to be shot at and although it escaped that encounter with little police presence in the countryside it is unlikely it would survive very long.
Today, 19th Nov, at Ghadira over 70 birds were ringed, with a good variety too, 2 Wrynecks, a White Wagtail, 2 Reed buntings apart from Robins, Chiffchaffs, Dunnocks and Blackcaps. A fellow trainee did most of the ringing while I got to ring my first Water Rail, which was great!

The adult female Water rail ringed at Simar

One of the Wryneck ringed at Ghadira this morning.

A first year female Reed bunting 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Yet more bird ringing!

Thursday (27th) morning, up early to pack for yet another weekend at the ringing station on Comino. Finished from university at 15:00, a mad cycle home, quick shower, more than heavy rucksack full of food on back and off to catch the bus. 4:45 the ferry would leave, I arrived on the jetty just in time! I had made it and had three days of birding and ringing on paradise island!
Friday, mostly Robins (62) ringed but some other species to add a bit of variety. Got to ring my first Blue Rock Thrush, a beautiful 1st year male, and Black Redstart. A few Stonechats, Song thrush, a Spectacled warbler and a Skylark were also ringed. Of the latter there was a quite a passage but flocks kept their height, over 400 were counted. Not in the hand but still nice to see was the first Golden Plover of the season, a Peregrine falcon, a late Honey Buzzard and we flushed a Nightjar.
Malta's national bird; Blue Rock Thrush

Saturday - great day, with continuous passage of Robins, 166 ringed in all! Furthermore 18 Stonechats, 12 Song thrush, a Blackbird, 7 Chiffchaff, a Firecrest and a Chaffinch were ringed. I got to ring my first Dunnock and the only one of the day. A Reed bunting and a Red-throated Pipit were year ticks bringing it up to 168! Finally a Stone curlew at dusk.

Firecrest - one of the smallest birds in Europe only weighing 5.5g!

Sunday - Rather strong South easterly wind but still birds about. Unfortunately we had to put down the nets during the day as the ringer coming up couldn't make it, so the scheme had to continue later int he week. Second Blackbird of the weekend, a first year male, was one of the highlights for me at least, getting to ring it myself. Otherwise it was mostly Robins, 90, with only 2 Stonechat and one Song thrush. 13 Chiffchaff plus a late Willow warbler, a Meadow Pipit, another 3 Dunnocks, Chaffinch and a Firecrest. A Kestrel and Corn Bunting flew by as we left the station, walked to the ferry thinking it was 5 months till the spring ringing scheme and what
a long time that seemed!
Blackbird ringed on the 30th October
After two days of boring lectures, some more time for ringing, at Simar this time. Not that many birds but ringed my first Reed Bunting which was great as well as a Cetti's Warbler. A few Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Robins of course. A Blackcap form the 21st October was recaught, and had put on 8g of weight feeding on olives and other berries! A female Shoveler was seen, three Little Grebes fishing below the hide, a Snipe and a few Water Rail.