Saturday, 27 October 2012

Cold Cardiff

Gloves would have been a welcome addition to the Cardiff Ringers' wardrobe this morning as would have thicker socks. Yes the bay was a little parky on our arrival this morning. But it was a clear, crisp and bright morning so spirits and hopes were high, especially with a view like this:

A beautiful view of the sunset over the barrage from the end of one of our rides.
It was far better in real life of course!

Our hopes were for flocks of wintering finches and thrushes; the Gods of Ringing partly answered. First bird of the day was our first redwing of the winter. It was quickly followed by BLABI after BLABI; possible continentals, residents, retraps and a possible control. Of course this stream of black gold, which nearly made double figures, was accompanied by Facey whimpering in to coffee "Why can't we catch this many in the park?! Why!? Why?!".

ASBO and Pliers processing two of the first catches of the day
 Variety was added by robins galore, a couple of Songthrushes, a new Cetti's for Vaf's PhD, a Goldcrest, Blackcap and obligatory great and blue tits and this little beauty:
Bird of the day by far!
Sighting and sound of the day went to the burble as the starling roost began to rouse before flying over our base camp. It was a good few hundred strong this morning.

This blog post was brought to you by Facey, Vaf, ASBO, Pliers and new editions Sam and Lizze G, with visitor Ryan.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Blackbird Bonanza!

Friday morning saw the break of what has been an unlucky run for the blackbird project. The last four outings have failed to recruit any new birds.

But erecting nets in the dark paid off, relatively speaking, as we caught 3 new blackbirds (and two retraps!), which is out second best session to date! For a change most of the new birds were female. We also landed about the same number of robin; perhaps we should to a RAS on them...

The first bird of the day.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

A Lesson in Wet Marshy Places

The wet marshy habitats across Europe and Africa (and probably the world) are similar in lots of ways. They are all usually wet, smelly and jam packed full of blood sucking invertebrates. They will all usually support a range of specialist wetland passerines (and "near passerines") in some form or another. 

A "near passerine"
When you spend much of your working week standing in damp waders, putting up and taking down mist nets, attempting to distinguish chironomidae from dixidae between the occasions when you catch a study bird species in order to collect its "dietary waste"- you gain a sort of insight to some of the differences between marshy wet habitats. 

Always smiling

For example, some of these habitats carry less risk of contracting a party list of liver or blood-cell parasites. Some are not surrounded by hundreds of miles of Sahelian arid habitats. Some of them are within a wine-growing country -where you can enjoy the local produce at the end of yet another sunny day after day after day. 

But one of the main ways they differ is in the variety and quantity of birds you might encounter. For example, as you get further south you might encounter a 'zitting cisticola' or fan-tailed warbler.

or perhaps a Little Bittern or two.

Yes it is very sharp and 'jabby'
 And a steady netful of introduced species from Africa.

and some typical European migrants.
Now what was this one again.. something 'throat'


After a full season of catching reed warblers in South Wales- what more could I wish for than a research trip to Portugal to catch some more reed warblers. Suffice to say I coped...