Wednesday 30 November 2016

Linnet News

Back at the beginning of April, we were celebrating a catch of 13 Linnets at our then new whoosh-netting site at Mwnt. Little did we know or guess that nearly 8 months later we would be ringing our 500th new Linnet of the season at this site, exceeding our wildest expectations many times over.  This is the milestone bird, a young male fledged earlier this year:

Note the moult limit in the greater coverts, dull brown juvenile feathers with broad buff tips to the right of the arrow, and new rich brown adult feathers to the left. If only they were all so easy to age correctly!  I'll be posting again on this subject in more detail before too long.

Today's catch of 37 new birds and 8 retraps brings the year's total to 514, with 145 recaptures of 110 of them, and we're now registered with the BTO as a RAS project for Linnet, with 2016 making the first year of data.

Also whoosh-netted today was a Blue Tit, adding to an interesting collection of by-catch species comprising 21 House Sparrows, 19 Meadow Pipits, 6 Dunnocks, 2 Chaffinch, 2 Goldfinch, and singles of Robin, Stonechat, Wheatear, and Blackbird; (... still waiting for the unringed Mwnt Chough to wander into the catching area, it's been close though).

Tuesday 29 November 2016

Latest near and far

We have made the first visits to our regular wintering sites on the Preseli Hills for Woodcock and Golden Plover. Last night we did well ringing three Golden Plover but only saw two Woodcock. We have no recoveries of Goldies but we get several recaptures and recoveries of our Woodcock each year - from Russia to SW France.

We have had a couple of recoveries of  Dunlin, a recent control from Sweden (awaiting details) and an interesting Welsh movement of a Dunlin and a Knot.

Both were juvenile birds and in 13 days and 9 days respectively during September / early October  2016 both moved from the Teifi - north to the Dyfi......a distance of 63km.

See this post by Tony Cross on the Mid-Wales Ringing Group blog about recoveries of Dunlin from Ynyslas showing its importance as a migratory stop over.
Interesting Dunlins

Our Storm Petrel ringing at Mwnt continues to produce recoveries within southwest Britain.
Our latest, a movement from Mwnt in July 2015 was controlled on Skokholm in August 2016.

The map below shows the movement of a juvenile Firecrest...

A due west movement, the Firecrest ringed in Belgium in mid-September 2014 and controlled on the Teifi during late November 2014.

Sedge Warblers are one of our most studied migrants.

Details of 6 birds ringed in France have arrived, through usual west and south west locations, and 3 to Devon and Wilts. One bird which stands out is a juvenile ringed in Loire-Atlantique in September 2012, then recaptured on the Teifi in May 2016.  Calculating a minimum age of 1351 days - this may be our oldest Sedge Warbler.

One of 9 French ringed Sedge Warblers we controlled this Spring..!!!

Saturday 12 November 2016

Costa Rica...a control from Canada, recaps and Standard Banding

Point Pelee on Lake Erie Canada to Tortuguero Costa Rica....This 1st year Veery became the first recovery of any species outside North America for Point Pelee Bird Obs....!!

The Veery was banded on 3rd Sept 2016 in Canada, a hatch year bird weighing 32.1g with a fat score of 1.
We recaptured the bird during Standard Banding at our STC site in Tortuguero on the Caribbean coast on 2nd October 2016, weighing 33.4g with a fat score of 2.

The Veery is a migrant though most of our work is providing data on resident species. Below a couple of recaptures of our more interesting and infrequently captured species. Two species from the Highlands...

This Rufous-browed Peppershrike was an adult when banded in March 2015, we recaptured this bird during October 2016, 19 months later.

We ringed this adult female Black and Yellow Silky-Flycatcher in September 2015. Delighted  to recapture her in October 2016.

Now from the Caribbean Lowlands, a Pale-billed Woodpecker....and what a handful..!

Weighing 232g, and with a 180mm wing these large woodpeckers are interesting to process. This is an adult female with band number 34, an old ring from before 2011 we are told. This is only the 2nd Pale-billled Woodpecker that we have caught, here a full picture of the bird we caught in 2012.

Still in the Lowland forests and a Hummingbird we don't see every year, a Band-tailed Barbthroat weighing 5.6g, and requiring a slightly different handling technique from the 'peckers above.

This adult male Black-throated Trogon was surprisingly a new bird at our only site where we catch this species. An interesting piece of data in itself.

Our final new species for our trip this year, a juvenile White-winged Becard.

Like the Brown-capped Tyrannulet we posted details of in October, a species of the canopy, so unusual to find one near the ground. This juvenile White-winged Becard was in a mixed feeding flock, mainly comprising of  resident Lesser Greenlets and migrant Chestnut-sided Warblers.

We leave Costa Rica tomorrow after our two months volunteering with  Costa Rica Bird Observatories.

No more sitting in mosquito filled banding locations, as Wendy above at our AERO site. Or dealing with net rounds in the Highlands at 2500m, where the effect of altitude hurts..!
Back to the Teifi next week to Redwings, a Welsh Winter....and plans to make for Costa Rica 2017.
(photos Wendy)

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Bills of the Coto Brus

Wendy and I have recently returned from six days ringing at three standard banding sites in the far south of Costa Rica, near San Vito and the Panama border. Each site has been studied for over 10 years and covered different habitats. For example one site was redundant coffee plantation and dairy pasture now developing into secondary forest. We did  band 24 species that we have never captured before, in the total species of 53 captured.

Now for some of the species......and their bills..

Fiery-billed Aracari, the endemic Aracari of Costa Rica, this bird an adult with a vicious serrated bill.

This is one of Costa Rica's 82 species of Flycatcher, an Eye-ringed Flatbill with an incredibly flat wide bill.

As a proportion of head and bill....the bill of a Thick-billed Finch is impressive.

As is characteristic of most of the Brush-Finches, the young develop the colour of their mandibles in the first few months. This a young Costa Rican Brush-Finch, a recent split and now a new endemic.

This is a close related species, the Orange-billed Sparrow, an adult with a fully developed bill colour.

Another mainly orange bill, on the common Catharus Thrush of the area, the Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush.

Blue-crowned Motmot....a short but a very powerful and strongly serrated bill on one of the larger birds that we study. This Motmot was ringed in 2009, seven years ago..!

A super long bill on this Green Hermit. The most common of the Hermit Hummingbirds we found here.

This tiny White-throated Spadebill. again a member of the Flycatcher family.

These mid-elevation forests are full of insects too. Costa Rica currently has 22 species of Wren. This is a  Rufous-breasted Wren with typical insectivorous bill.

Sharp-shinned Hawk, an uncommon migrant to the area, this a nice adult female.

The star bird of the Coto Brus..a Ruddy Foliage-gleaner ! This species has a tiny distribution in Costa Rica, basically just the Coto Brus Valley. One of the requirements of this dig a 2m tunnel nest chamber in a bank..!

Costa Rica has 9 species of Manakins. A couple of new ones for us at this elevation. This an adult male Orange-collared Manakin.

.... This is an adult male White-ruffed Manakin. Both species with a small bill for their mainly fruit and seed diet.

San Vito at 1000m nestled in the stunning valley....the Coto Brus. Our banding sites were at c1200m on the surrounding hillsides.

On day 4 we held a ringing demonstration for the local school, organised by the San Vito Bird Club.

Under a superb banding shelter....much needed in this wet climate. Even wetter than West Wales...