Saturday, August 31, 2013

Calm days, again

We are more than one thousand birds below the average. Last days in Flommen we have trapped an average of 20 birds / day, basically Reed and Sedge Warblers, as ever. We are happy with every moult limit we can spot when we are very lucky and we trap any Whinchats or Whitethroats...

We have realized that 'the problem' is the low numbers of Reed and Sedge that we are trapping, but we don't know what could be the reason. The other day we saw and trapped some baby Reed Warblers, maybe a second brood, and a bit of expectation of a new wave of migrant warblers...
One of the baby scirpaceus that had born besides net 6
in the southern round. ©Stephen Menzie
Now the sky and the sea are also quiet, with only a few migrants passing by. An adult male Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) and a Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena) had been the most interesting sightings from the Flommen hut.

Fortunately, the wader cages are working well and we had some exciting birds to survive. We trapped the second Spotted Crake (Porzana porzana), and also the second Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) for the season, both juveniles.

These 3 Northern Wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe) were also trapped in cages. Two of them were together in the same compartment!
From the top to below: 2+female and two 1st-years.
Probably the best bird was this adult Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago). The night before we had been targeting them but we didn't catch anyone...

The second Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) for the season was trapped also in extra ringing, in the 'Sparrowhawk's net'.

As we needed some extra excitement, we (the Flommen crew) went with Jonas Ekwall to Lilla Hammars nås, outside the Falsterbo peninsula.
Geese (Greylags and Barnacles), Cormorants and some
 other stuff in the biggest island.
The place is really good for birding. Some days ago, an adult Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis) was found here, and we managed to see it.

Walking back to the car, we flushed some Common Snipes, and between them, two unexpected Great Snipes (Gallinago media) that Marcel found very quickly. Then, as we had been quite lucky, we went to a close area full of bushes to look for some passerines. It was a really good place and we saw the typical stuff (willow, whinchat, whitethroat...), and also we 'twitched' this male Black Darter (Sympetrum danae).

That afternoon was really good actually, but in the following morning we came back to the routine. The lack of interesting stuff makes us do things like pursue and grab some Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) during the night... And yeah, also shitty Coots (Fulica atra), that are probably more stinky.

However, I have to say that they are quite funny and that I like them. :D

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Flommen lifestyle

Wake up very early in the morning, cycle to Flommen, wear hip boots and go inside the reedbed to set up some nets. Again in the Flommen hut, I use to look south and see the lighthouse, that very soon turns off. This is the routine for the 'Flommen Team' (Albin, Marcel, Stephen and me).

Just before the sunrise, firsts Tree Pipits (Anthus trivialis) and Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava) appear in active migration. During all morning are usually followed by flocks of Crossbills (Loxia curvirostra), that we always check, looking for Two-barreds. Whinchats (Saxicola rubetra) and Northern Wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe) are quite common in the bushes around the Flommen ringing hut, also the local Meadow Pipits (Anthus pratensis) and Skylarks (Alauda arvensis).
This juvenile Skylark (A.arvensis) has been trapped this
morning in the middle of the reedbed!
Between the first and the second netrounds we catch the major part of birds, mainly Reed, Sedge and Willow Warblers. Also, we have started to catch some other migrants in 'acceptable' numbers, specially of Whinchats and Tree Pipits. These are less common migrants:

Yellow Wagtails are difficult to catch, but are extremely
common migrating.
Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus), a 1st-year female.
Wryneck (Jynx torquilla). We caught two!
1st-year male Red-spotted Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica svecica)
Just behind the ringing hut, the Baltic Sea use to keep some nice birds. Some Common Eiders (Somateria mollissima) are every day close to the coast, and when we spend some 'between netround time' seawatching we usually see some waders and ducks passing by.

About 10 o'clock, raptors in migration are also common above the reedbed. Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo), Honey Buzzards (Pernis apivorus), Marsh Harriers (Circus aeroginosus), Red Kites (Milvus milvus) and, of course, lots of Sparrowhawks (Accipiter nisus) are the most habitual species. Some days ago we saw an adult Black Stork (Ciconia cigra) migrating as well, followed with some Pernis. Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) and White-tailed Eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla), are also easy to see.

1st-year Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus). At least we
have trapped one..!
In the reedbed world, while we are doing the netround, is easy to see lots of Edible Frogs (Pelophylax esculentus) and Viviparous Lizards (Zootoca vivipara). Some Dragonfly species are also possible to see, the commonest one seems to be the Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixa).

This frog is also part of the routine: every day is in the same
 place, besides net 8 in the southern round.
Hiden between the reeds sometimes is possible to see Roe Deers (Capreolus capreolus), but the authentic mysterious species are Crakes and Rails.

1st-year Spotted Crake (P.porzana), caught on the nets.
1st-year Water Rail (R.aquaticus), caught on a wader trap.
Today, an unexpected call from the lighthouse has been probably the best of the morning. Sophie, Caroline and company had just trapped a Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva) in the lighthouse garden. One of these species that I was waiting... It was a first-year (not a bright orange-breasted male...), but I'm very happy equally! 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Northern things

During last days, the wind has stopped a bit, enough to cause an authentic rain of birds that across the Falsterbo peninsula, migrating south. Scandinavia is a really good place for lots of bird species to breed, but in winter they can't resist the extreme low temperatures. Then, after a short breeding season, a high percentage of scandinavian birds have to fly south, looking for better places where resist the hard winter. Lots of species that are quite sedentary or short-migrant birds in Catalonia are authentic migrants here, like White Wagtails (Motacilla alba), Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs), Great Tits (Parus major)...
A Barnacle Geese (Branta leucopsis) flock flying over the lighthouse.
A good scene that we use to see from Flommen every morning.
Falsterbo is located in one of that sites that birds really use to migrate. During all day, thousands of Tree Pipits (Anthus trivialis) and Yellow Wagtails (Motacilla flava) are passing by and calling. Lots of other species are also migrating in good numbers, and we are catching some of them.
Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)
Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)
Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio).
First for the season in Flommen!
Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia). Today in
Flommen!, also first for the season.
This Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) is not one of this migrants (for the moment), but is also really good to see in its fresh juvenile plumage.

Another thing that we didn't have in the south are bird 'invasions'. Last year there was a Blue Tit invasion in autumn (look at this video, taken by Björn Malmhagen. It's completely crazy!). During this month, as I said in another post, we have a Common Crossbill invasion that is bringing some Two-barred Crossbills too.
Yesterday, the migration counters in Nabben detected 6580 Crossbills migrating, and 51 Two-barred!! Also, more than 10300 Tree Pipits and 3030 Yellow Wagtails...

Stephen prepared a mix of calls that we're playing with a speaker in order to catch some Crossbills.
'First-cycle' male
'Fake Two-barred'; '1st-cycle' Common Crossbill

We would never expect to catch two Two-barred Crossbills (Loxia leucoptera) just when we had released the 'fake two-barred'...!

Let's see if we can manage to catch more Crossbills in the following days...

Last wader ringing nights have also been very productive, with some interesting species. Today we have catched this Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus) during the standardized ringing in Flommen!

But this Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) from the last ringing night is really better!!