Sunday, 13 April 2014

Ringing and Rioja























But not at the same time of course!!!

The back of the ringers newsletter is a great way of finding new ringing opportunities. Last year we spent a week in Israel but this year our adventures took us to southern Spain for a week ringing with Dr Richard Banham


After a short 3hrs flight from Gatwick to Gibraltar we were met by Richard and his wife Thelma who took us shopping in Morrisons before the short drive north into Spain and our base for the week. We settled into our apartment and made our plans.







The great thing with the area is that there are lots of different ringing habitats with a short distance so we never had to travel far. Having said that, it wasn’t a ‘normal’ holiday as we were up at 4:30 most mornings to allow us to be out and have all the nets up before it got light.

Despite it being pretty early in the season and a bit too early for many migrants we had an excellent week ringing 251 birds of 18 species. The main species passing through during the week were blackcaps. Many of them were migrants but it was interesting to find that the resident birds differed slightly in their biometrics. We had plenty of practice in aging them; ringing 160 during our time
there.



The hazards of blackcap ringing!!!
One of the best things about the trip was ringing in different habitats each day. It was a fantastic experience to work in the orange groves. Not only were they full of birds but you could pick and eat the ripe fruits from the trees!



Male serin









Black redstart

Probably the best place we ringed at was a river site called Junta de los Rios. It was a mixture of scrub woodland, tamarisk patches and the edge of a wide river. We were also to put out nets on the river islands which were great for catching blackcaps but we also has a short net over a small backwater. This proved very successful in catching 2 kingfishers (bird of the trip) and an adult little ringed plover. The site was also excellent for raptors overhead with Bonellis, short-toed and booted eagles, 3 osprey, griffon vulture and black kite.







Easily the best bird of the trip!



Little ringed plover

The avocado orchard was a good site for adding new species to the bird list with a singing short-toed treecreeper close but not close enough to the nets, 6 flyover hawfinches (we were playing tapes for them) and a large passage of griffon vultures. Sadly the avocados were not ready to eat.






There was a subtle change in birds when we visited El Ventero del rio Palmones. It was a strange site in many ways. The habitat was sand dunes, coastal scrub with wet reed fringed pools but set on the edge of a massive container port with the Rock of Gibraltar dominating the skyline. After ringing loads of blackcaps earlier in the week, it was a surprise that there were not many about. Highlights were the 1st summer male subalpine warbler of the spring, 9 Sardinian warblers and 5 chiffchaffs. A couple of iberiae (Spanish) yellow wagtails spent a bit of time around the nets but decided not to go in.





'The Rock' shrouded in cloud



Subalpine warbler



Sardinian warbler

This changed on our last day at the wetland site of Desembocadura Rio Guadiaro where we caught a very smart (5) male.







'Spanish' yellow wagtail

Despite it being a bit early for large numbers of migrants, we had a great visit and would definitely return in the future at a different time of year. Highly recommended to anyone


Species
New
Retrap
Total
Little ringed plover
1
0
1
Reed warbler
1
0
1
Kingfisher
2
0
2
Goldfinch
4
0
4
Greenfinch
21
0
21
Cetti’s warbler
6
5
11
Robin
10
0
10
Chaffinch
1
0
1
Yellow wagtail
1
0
1
House sparrow
6
0
6
Black redstart
1
0
1
Chiffchaff
6
0
6
Serin
6
0
6
Blackcap
160
8
168
Subalpine warbler
1
0
1
Sardinian warbler
10
7
17
Blackbird
11
10
21
Song thrush
3
0
3

Monday, 27 January 2014

Any suggestions welcome

One of the nice surprises from our recent trip to Sri Lanka was the opportunity to see loads of wildlife other than birds. Being in the heart of the rainforest at Sinharaja we were perfectly placed to get up early and see what was about.

The dining area was covered to keep the elements off but the sides were open allowing moths to be attracted to the lights. On our first night, a bat spent most of its time flying round in circles hoovering up many moths. Those that made it onto the walls had to run the gauntlet of a dawn raid by the blue magpies!!

There were a few left for me to photograph although identifying them is proving a little trickier.





Hawkmoth spp





Can't decide if the last two are the different species or just individual variation...



Such cool camouflage



This beauty had a wingspan of over 6 inches!!






Black arches...?











Public enemy #1

You had to be up early to see what moths had been attracted to the lights overnight. If you left it until after dawn, upto 6 Sri Lanka blue magpies would be feasting on the nights catch!!!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

It wasn't just birds

I am sure that we could have done some of our recent Sri Lanka trip without the use of a guide but we would have missed out on so much. Not only was our guide excellent at finding and identifying the birds, he was also very experienced in the moths, butterflies, plants and other non-avian groups.

I managed to get quite a few photos and here are a few of them. Moths will follow once I have attempted to ID them!
 





Green garden lizard. This fella was the largest specimen we saw. Most were pretty small but this was about 2' long. I was quite surprised by the lack of snakes although we did walk with 'heavy feet' when off the trails. Single rat and water snakes, brahimny blind snake and a stunning green pit viper were the only ones we saw.
 
Large millipede sp
 

















Large land snail



Bush spider on web over a path in the rainforest in Sinharaja. The large one in the female with the tiny male taking a risk getting that close!!


Despite visiting a fair few areas of wetland, we didn't see a massive number of dragonflies. We did record Asian skimmer, black tipped flashwing (very similar to banded demoiselle) and several darter spp. This pied parasol was fairly common and very smart too.

The wet edges to the tracks in Yala NP were excellent areas for butterflies. Yellow, white, black and combinations of all of them were seen on the different species. It was pretty hard to photograph them here but I did manage a few.

There were some great names too; common Mormon, common rose, great eggfly, white orangetip, grass yellow, birds wing and tree pansy to name a few.



Common crow


Baronnet



Chocolate soldier



Blue tiger

Saturday, 11 January 2014

A litttle taster

With over 1000 images to go though from our Sri Lanka trip over Christmas, it is going to take a while to go through them all and delete and edit. Here is a very small sample to give you a flavour.



Great looking birds!!



One of the hotels we stayed at. Our room was in the middle overlooking the pool, which was very refreshing in the heat



Painted stork at Yala National Park. Lots seen on the wetlands in the south



One of hundreds of blue tailed bee-eaters seen at Yala National Park. Just as many little bee-eaters giving fantastic views.