Wednesday, 16 January 2019

A look back at 2018

Yesterday evening, the Group reviewed our year of ringing at the AGM. 
One of the 773 Sedge Warblers ringed in 2018
With the Group growing we have now had to move on from meeting in one of our homes. Thanks to The Grosvenor Hotel in Cardigan for the use of a room.

The totals for the year are now published on the blog
2018 totals

During the year we ringed 7,541 birds and re-encountered 2,362 making a total of 9,903.
Now that the group has moved on to DemOn for our data entry we are unable to produce the usual table of retraps and controls but will hopefully publish some of the most interesting controls soon.

We discussed the activities at the different sites used by the group. Some new species for the Group were caught this year at Fygyn Common, one of Charlie's sites.

 Cuckoo and Nightjar are species that we hope to study more in the coming years.


Charlie also had a good number of Redwing passing through his Llanfynydd site and with trainees ringed 277. Unfortunately one that he ringed in November 2017 was shot in Gironde, France November 2018 (745km).

We will continue to run our Constant Effort site at the Teifi Marshes as well as the four RAS projects  on Reed Warblers, Reed Buntings, Siskins and Linnets.
Sedge Warblers are once again our most frequently encountered bird on the Teifi Marshes with big catches as they pass through on migration in May and late July/August. We caught 11 that had been ringed elsewhere and 13 of our birds were caught by other ringers, mostly in Western France. Note in particular the bird that was controlled in Ireland by Irish Midlands Ringing Group. This recovery adds weight to our thoughts that the Teifi Marsh is a stopover site before the migration hop over the Irish Sea to breeding sites in Ireland.


We have been colour ringing Reed Buntings on the Teifi Marshes since 2014 to add to subsequent encounters of them for RAS (Retrapping Adults for Survival). In 2018 we added 110 to the study population. We are grateful to the photographers who send us photos. The photo below is from Colin Dalton who has sent us many photos over the last few weeks.


At Mwnt, Chris continues the study on Linnets with 603 birds ringed. Some other species were caught at Mwnt too including Stonechat, Chough, Wheatear, Storm Petrels and a Magpie.


We only caught 7 Storm Petrels this year, one had been ringed on Bardsey Island in 2016.

On winter nights we continued our long term study on birds roosting on sheep pasture. We now have continuous data for these sites since 2008.
The most common bird encountered is Woodcock but other species are ringed too.


At the AGM we asked Group members which species would they most like to ring on our local sites. This will help us plan our activities this year. Skylark was a popular choice!!

We start a new year with an enthusiastic growing group comprising 18 members including 6 A ringers, 5 C ringers and trainees. Great to welcome Andy Turner to the Teifi Ringing Group.

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Uganda - 2018 part 2

Uganda is a relatively small country and our three main sites are to the north of Lake Albert (Budongo and Nile Safari in Murchison) and to the south of the Lake (Sunbird Hill adjacent to Kibale), as you can see from the map all in the far west of the country.


Malcolm first ringed at Nile Safari in 1996. Great to catch a White-browed Robin-Chat that was ringed 7 years ago.
 

The Robin-chat above was perhaps our most significant retrap of the c30 recaptures during the trip.


Species ringed during the trip November 2018

 
LITTLE GREENBUL 34
WHITE THROATED GREENBUL 9
SPECTACLED WEAVER 3
YELLOW-STREAKED GREENBUL 2
RED-BILLED FIREFINCH 6
WILLOW WARBLER 10
GREEN TWINSPOT 5
BUFF-BELLIED WARBLER 2
SPECKLED MOUSEBIRD 2
RED-TAILED ANT-THRUSH 1
WHITE-BROWED ROBIN-CHAT 2
BROWN-CHESTED ALETHE 4
FIRE-CRESTED ALETHE 6
PYGMY KINGFISHER 13
DARK-CAPPED BULBUL 15
BLACK-HEADED GONOLEK 2
AFRICAN THRUSH 5
RED-TAILED BRISTLEBILL 2
PUVEL'S ILLADOPSIS 2
BROWN-EARED WOODPECKER 1
BROWN-CROWNED TCHAGRA 2
KLASS'S CUCKOO 2
BUFF-SPOTTED WOODPECKER 1
SNOWY-HEADED ROBIN-CHAT 3
NARINA'S TROGON 1
WESTERN NICATOR 1
VEILLOT'S BLACK WEAVER 6
WHITE-BROWED COUCAL 3
SCARLET-CHESTED SUNBIRD 5
GREEN-HEADED SUNBIRD 9
BRIMSTONE CANARY 1
RED-BELLIED FLYCATCHER 5
FOREST ROBIN 4
RED-THROATED BEE-EATER 19
GABON NIGHTJAR 1
BROWN ILLADOPSIS 2
GREEN HYLIA 4
BROWN TWINSPOT 3
REED WARBLER 6
AFRICAN PARADISE FLYCATCHER 1
GREEN-WINGED PYTILLA 1
GREY-THROATED FLYCATCHER 1
CARDINAL QUELEA 2
BROWN-THROATED WATTLE-EYE 2
YELLOW-RUMPED TINKERBIRD 2
RED-WINGED GREY WARBLER 1
LITTLE WEAVER 1
RATTLING CISTICOLA 2
OLIVE SUNBIRD 4
BRONZE SUNBIRD 5
WHITE-CHINNED PRINIA 7
GREEN CROMBEC 4
BLACK-BILLED WOOD-DOVE 1
SHIKRA 1
YELLOW-BILLED BARBET 1
TAMBOURINE DOVE 3
AFRICAN FIREFINCH 1
BLACK-CHEEKED WAXBILL 1
COPPER SUNBIRD 1
AFRICAN BLUE FLYCATCHER 1
BLACK-NECKED WEAVER 4
SLENDER-BILLED GREENBUL 1
RED-HEADED BLUEBILL 2
TORO OLIVE GREENBUL 1
GREY-HEADED NEGRETA 7
BLUE-SHOULDERED ROBIN-CHAT 1
COMPACT WEAVER 1
YELLOW WHITE-EYE 1
BROWN-BACKED SCRUB ROBIN 1
COMMON WAXBILL 1
BRONZE MANNIKIN 1
BLUE-SPOTTED WOOD-DOVE 1
BARN SWALLOW 3
STEPPE BUZZARD 1
GREY KESTREL 2
DARK CHANTING GOSHAWK 1
LONG-CRESTED EAGLE 1
LIZARD BUZZARD 2
WESTERN BANDED SNAKE-EAGLE 1
Total new birds ringed 363


Reed Warblers, Willow Warblers and Barn Swallows were the Palearctic migrant species caught.
Always interesting to see birds in moult - especially a species whose wing moult we don't see at home.


Reed Warbler in wing moult.


Barn Swallow in wing and body moult.

The smaller ring sizes we use in Africa, the Porzana range supplemented with rings sourced elsewhere


 A good start at Sunbird Hill involved 90 birds including 5 species of  Greenbul !
 We had some retraps and a few new species for me, here a Toro Olive Greenbul.


Greenbul identification  in the hand, tricky for visiting birders !


Sunbird Hill is adjacent to Kibale Forest NP. This is Chimpanzee and Elephant forest, with the Gorillas a little way further into the mountains. We were based here for our final four days. Plenty of variety in the forest here...very different species from the lower drier grassland and scrub of  Murchison.


Bronze Sunbird - the largest Sunbird in the area and they loved feeding on the flowers around the camp.


 African Blue Flycatcher


This Narina Trogon caused a stir, not only a great species to see, but caused Malcolm to run when he saw the bird in a net !


This juvenile Blue-shouldered Robin-Chat was a surprise too. They breed in the nearby Kibale NP but this juvenile providing breeding evidence for breeding at Sunbird Hill.


This Brown-backed Scrub Robin a highlight too.


Yellow White-eye, common in the mixed flocks.

Guides from the locality and Kibale NP always showed fascination and a hunger to learn.


Julia Lloyd is developing Sunbird Hill as a base camp for further studies. A couple of the locals have limited ringing experience, most are excellent local guides, both for birds and Chimpanzee tracking.



Malcolm is planning further ringing training visits with the objective of Sunbird Hill becoming a regular ringing site with local trained staff becoming part of the East Africa Ringing Scheme.

Julia is  developing accommodation and facilities to encourage visiting by other birding and ringing parties.


The communal area


The site has recently taken part in the Uganda Big Day - the Sunbird Hill team recording 152 species, the highest and winning total for a non National Park based team

See these links for  more about  Sunbird Hill     
                            and    Diary of a Muzungu


A couple of fine biting beaks, Yellow-billed Barbet - the largest of the Barbets and Tinkerbirds we caught.


Compact Weaver, of the c100 species captured the only species Malcolm hadn't ringed.



The  trip focused on the 4 ringing sites and we did have some opportunity for raptors.


This an adult Long-crested Eagle caught on an afternoon break whilst at Sunbird Hill


Many thanks to all on the trip, Graeme Dunlop provided the ringing totals above, photos from Graeme, Natasha, Roly, Malcolm or myself. Malcolm and Ambrose provided the local expertise and the driving.
Another stunning visit to Africa, many animals and birds seen, great hospitality from our hosts and  fun with all the enthusiastic guides, local trainees and staff from the Uganda Wildlife Authority, Nature Uganda and staff from Sunbird Hill Kibale Forest Edge.


Dawn at Nile Safari...... with the next team we visit South Africa with Malcolm in February

Friday, 7 December 2018

Uganda - 2018

Wendy, Dawn and I made a very successful ringing trip to Uganda 6 years ago and experienced a once in a life time visit to see the Mountain Gorillas.
See several posts about the trip in February 2012

Shoebill - photo Graeme Dunlop

I have just returned from another ringing based visit with Malcolm Wilson of African Affinity.
Team members also included Graeme Dunlop, Natasha Stonestreet  from the Cuckmere Haven RG, along with their birding guest Roly Hayes, and our local guide and trainee ringer Ambrose. One objective of this trip was  to introduce ringing and some training of local staff, and we also birded along the Nile to help assess wildlife guides.

A visit during "our northern winter" gives us the opportunities to see our summer migrants on their wintering grounds. Below a Barn Swallow in moult, a stage we don't see in the UK.


Reed Warblers too - more photos in a following post. - as there will be on most subjects that follow.


On these trips we have the opportunity to use different catching methods. In Africa we use bal chatri traps to catch raptors, here a Western Banded Snake-Eagle being photographed as part of wing moult and ageing study.


On arrival we stayed as is customary at Kathy's magic garden in Kampala, a chance to acclimatise and a first introduction to African bird families. Here a Black-headed Gonolek one of the vocal garden birds.


A male Olive-bellied Sunbird, one of  14 Sunbird species that visit the garden


Coucals are related to Cuckoos and they are nice large birds for ringers new to Africa. You are more likely to handle larger birds in Africa than at home in general site ringing. These are White-browed Coucals.


We moved on from Kathy's after two days to one of our major study sites - Budongo Forest.
As well as continuing to monitor species here we had three days of introduction and in some cases developing existing training with staff of the Uganda Wildlife Authority, Nature Uganda and a few students eg Judith Mirembe who is doing her PhD studying aspects of Shoebill biology.

The Budongo team .....


At Kaniyo Pabidi we had the chance to study Puvel's Illiadopsis at it's only known site in Uganda


This is a west / central African species and is one several species whose distribution enter east Africa only in this region of Uganda.

Interested discussion and learning with these two species, the lower bird is a Red-tailed Ant-thrush, the upper bird Rufous Flycatcher-Thrush.


Very similar plumages in these individuals and much discussion in separation of the species in hand, including the value of measuring the tarsus width.

Moving north...
The mighty Murchison Falls...and Rock Pratincoles.





On our afternoon travels we did take the opportunity to ring some Red-throated Bee-eaters at one of several roadside colonies


Here Lilian from Nature Uganda processing a Red-throated Bee-eater.


Our next site was again a return visit for me to Nile Safari Lodge. Here we were joined with guides and staff mainly from Wild Frontiers, to watch us ring over the three days and for Malcolm to assess their guiding from boats on the Nile.



A taste of birds here - again more to follow....


Brown-throated Wattleye, named after the plumage of the female as the plumage of the males in these related species are too similar.

I plan to post more photos and further discussion soon.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Out on the hills

Wind is really hampering opportunities to open mist nets but at least it is good for getting our winter lamping underway.


There aren't many birds roosting on our study fields yet but we have ringed some Woodcock, Snipe, Golden Plover, Fieldfare and the first Lapwing for several years.
For anyone not familiar with this work, we track our route each night and mark with gps where each Woodcock is caught. It is always fascinating how a Woodcock can return to the same field after migrating to Russia and back. This is a typical walk of about 3km, varying from visit to visit depending on where sheep, foxes or Badgers are and whether the field has been cultivated that year instead of being left to pasture. Several of our best fields have either been resown with grass or planted with winter beets so no good for finding roosting birds at the moment.


The tracker we use also includes altitude which shows that the fields above aren't flat at all so mean walking uphill a fair amount and it feels like a good workout. Only 130 calories apparently though so the hot chocolate and cake afterwards isn't really justified!


Because of the need to be as quiet as possible it isn't really a group activity but we try to take out at least one trainee to learn the technique and experience species not caught in mist nets.

Note Andrew obeying the strict rule of non rustling clothing!

We had hoped to be able to catch a lot of Blue Tits this November for a new national BTO project looking at variation in moult in juvenile Blue Tits. Hopefully the next 10 days will be a bit less windy to give us a chance but we have made a start with a few.


The project is described in the latest issue of Lifecycle Autumn 2018

Meanwhile, Richard is looking at moult in rather larger birds and in warmer weather. He is ringing in Uganda with African Affinity.
Here, looking at primary moult to age a Western Banded Snake-Eagle.

Charlie is continuing to catch Redwings in short sessions before the wind picks up each morning. He caught a very dark bird this week with a wing of 124mm which always raise the possibility of being a different subspecies.There are two subspecies of Redwing - those that we normally see in winter are Turdus iliacus iliacus which breed in Eurasia while the other subspecies is Turdus iliacus coburni that breeds in Iceland and the Faroe Islands. The coburni birds are marginally larger and noticeably darker in their plumage.

Charlies comparison photos with the typical pale bird on the left and the darker bird on the right

Some useful comparison pictures are on Peter Alker's blog post about Redwings "Two in a bush"