Saturday 30 September 2017

Colours of southern Costa Rica

We are four days through six days of banding at our three standard banding sites in San Vito in the high valleys of the Coto Brus very close to the border with Panama.

This visit follows our visit last October, and a visit by our colleagues at Costa Rica Bird Observatory this March. Visits - though less frequent follow a similar protocol to our CES back home on the Teifi.
Now follows some of the more colourful and less often captured species. This Bay-headed Tanager was in fact the first one we have captured, this a hand painted adult...!

We catch c40 White-collared Manakins a season at our sites in the Caribbean Lowlands, this a fine adult male Orange-collared Manakin- the allopatric species of the southern Pacific Lowlands and foothills, we catch around 6 per year.

A couple of Tanagers species now.
This fine adult Golden-hooded Tanager, a bird we have only caught in pairs

unlike the Silver-throated Tanager, which we have encountered in small flocks, 9 being the maximum. The flocks being made up of various aged birds.

The White-tipped Sicklebill is a large Hummingbird and difficult to see. Note the white on the head and crown which is pollen dust, picked up as it feeds on tubular flowers like the Heliconia species.

The head of a Blue-crowned Motmot, a large very bright species with a deeply serrated bill. A species we hear regularly and often see around our bird table too.

Colourful words here -- the grey headed race of the Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, the Catharus thrush species of the middle elevations, and quite a common species.

We find two further Manakin species in our study area, the Blue-crowned Manakin and the White-ruffed Manakin, below the adult male. Adult males of all Manakin species are hard to find, and make up barely 15% of Manakins caught.

Slate-throated Redstarts are one of the few species that we find in both our Highland and San Vito sites. A classic species of the mixed flock, including North American migrant Warblers.

We found this Black-tailed Flycatcher in our study area where the near identical Sulphur-rumped Flycatcher is the more common. On the simple biometrics of weight, wing and tail length these features support the identification.

Not a colour in his name !
But a tiny smart Flycatcher  - the Scaly-crested Pygmy-Tyrant.

We found none of these c8.5g wonders on our visit last year but we have now found 3 on this visit.
What other changes will we find in our ever maturing study sites in San Vito.....

Sunday 24 September 2017

Recoveries home and away...

A few recoveries of Sedge and Reed Warblers received from the BTO this month.

Reed Warbler S574943 was ringed on the Teifi Marsh 15th August 2017 and caught at Littlington, East Sussex by Cuckmere Ringing Group on 1st September 2017
17 days later 362 Km ESE.

Reed Warbler S321233 was ringed on 15th August 2017 at Goodwick Moor at a new site for the group being developed by Karen with the support of the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales. It was controlled by Kester Wilson at Nanjizal, Land's End, Cornwall 11 days later 221km SSW

Reed Warbler S191815 was ringed by neighbouring Pembrokeshire Ringing Group on 17th July 2017 and controlled on the Teifi Marsh 11th August 2017, 25 days later 53km NNE

Sedge Warbler 7505874 was ringed at Tour aux Mouton, Loire-Atlantique, France on 8th August 2015 and controlled Teifi Marsh 22nd July 2017, 714 days later, 560km NNW.

We have been waiting a while for this one...Sedge Warbler 12257597 was ringed at Jonkershove, West-Vlanderen, Belgium on 15th August 2011 and controlled Teifi Marsh 28th April 2016, 1718 days later, 538km WNW.

The emails of these recoveries were received while in Costa Rica.
As always American banders working with us are impressed with the numbers and distance of recoveries within and outside of the UK.

Finally, an interesting recovery for us this week in Costa Rica. An adult male Dusky Nightjar ringed during Richard's visit in November 2014 was found  by us, a fresh roadkill next to the Pan Am Highway close to our banding site nearly 3 years later.

Nicer but less interesting was the capture of a new Dusky Nightjar at dawn the following day.

Thursday 14 September 2017

Mwnt Action

A very windy morning at Mwnt, but our whoosh-netting site was sheltered enough to be usable. Before we'd trapped any Linnets a young Chough wandered rather carelessly into the catching area, making a most excellent start to the day. After that we trapped 55 Linnets and a House Sparrow.

To cap it all a Wryneck arrived in the churchyard to see what we were up to, very competently spotted by Alison as it sat on top of a gravestone.

After we'd finished ringing, Arfon re-located it in the gorse immediately behind our whoosh-net patch, this is his photo.

Saturday 2 September 2017

Meadow Pipit or a Tree Pipit

At Fygyn Common this morning was myself and Andrew Hughes. We caught and processed a mixed bag including Grasshopper Warbler, Reed Bunting, Tree Pipit and Meadow Pipit. Andrew is a Teifi Ringing Group trainee so it was an opportune moment to look at identification of Tree Pipit and Meadow Pipit having extracted one of each at the same time

About 10 days ago Andrew and I caught 3 Meadow Pipits. We went through the process of identifying the birds as Meadow Pipits by the lengths of their hind claws being between 10mm and 13mm. Today having a Tree Pipit and a Meadow Pipit together was a great opportunity to compare birds. Our Meadow Pipit had a hind claw length of 13mm. The other Pipit had a hind claw of 8mm which fitted that of a Tree Pipit.

From Svennson Hind Claw 7-9mm and bill of a Tree Pipit

Picture shows by measurement primary number 5 is approximately 3.5mm shorter that 2,3 and 4.

From Svennson it says that the Tree Pipit primary projection, wing Point, are primaries 2,3 and 4 and primary 5 being shorter from 2-6.5mm from the tip of the wing. Our Tree Pipit was approximately 3.5mm which places it in the Tree Pipit category.

This picture clearly shows the different lengths of the hind claws. The Tree Pipit in the foreground with the shorter claw of 8mm.
There are another two other clues in this picture helping to identify one species from the other. You can see the Tree Pipit has a large buff coloured supercilium going behind the eye. On the Meadow Pipit it is rather indistinct and on some birds not apparent. Also the bill of a Tree Pipit is thicker/stumpier than that of a Meadow Pipit albeit in the picture it is emphasised somewhat because the Tree Pipit is at the front. Side by side today you could clearly see the difference.

This picture taken from Svennson shows the claw length of a Meadow Pipit. Also it says the primary projection, wing point, are primaries 2,3 and 4 and primary 5 being slightly shorter from 0-1mm and exceptionally 2mm from the tip of the wing. It also shows the smaller indistinct supercillium.

Our Tree Pipit from today.

The hind claw length was 8mm
The difference in length of the shorter primary 5 to primary 4 was 3.5mm which fits into the category of 2-6.5mm.
The bill was thicker/stumpier than that of the Meadow Pipit.
The Tree Pipit has clear supercillium going behind the eye.

Thanks Andrew for coming today. When Andrew had the bird in his hand he said this bird has a short claw, it was great to hear him say that because he remembered previous training we had together. Having caught several Tree Pipits in the last few weeks I had a good idea that it was probably another. I then let Andrew check all the identification criteria as he could using Svennson with the minimum help from me. He did well!