Blog Category | Ringing
Mark's teddy bear has been sown back together and he has been placated by a Redstart. What did you expect when ringing with two A ringers? Charity? So when the second Subalpine Warbler turned up yesterday and it was ringed by Julia, pieces of teddy were everywhere. It could be assumed that the next rarity would be his. Wrong. One of the first birds today was a Bonelli's Warbler (pictured) - a really delicate and beautifully coloured bird and so I had to ring it. Poor old teddy.
Alarmingly, having opened the nets on Middle Hill in the dark, the first net round in the light was confronted by a large family of 'apes'. They have more right to be on the hill than we do and so they were gently persuaded to leave. A rather slow tick-over of birds followed but produced the Bonelli's and some Redstarts among the Sardinian Warblers and, a first for the trip, a pair of Pied Flycatchers. Again, Iberian Chiffchaffs in reasonable numbers, which show more of the colouration of Willow Warblers than Common Chiffs. Only 29 birds ringed today but we are still ringing more than Jews Gate at the moment.
With that thought in mind, we put up yet more nets! We now have 18 nets totalling 324 feet but we have at least produced a circuit so that we only pass the nets once, albeit crampons are needed for half of it. A gentle start stalking Red-necked Nightjars tomorrow (a European Nightjar heard this morning) and a better day for teddy perhaps.
Much better day on the slopes of the Rock with 47 birds ringed and yet more nets added. Highlights were undoubtedly Subalpine Warbler, Redstart, Nightingale, Iberian Chiffchaff and all ages of Sardinian Warblers. A rather pathetic attempt to dazzle Red-necked Nightjars and catch them with a hand net calls for further practice. However, a little later, Charlie Perez was on hand to provide local knowledge, especially the peculiarities of local moult (Greenfinch juveniles apparently moult twice in the first year making aging a devil of a job). As for the Blackbirds, we have a constant flow but again they are just different from those in Somerset and each charcoal grey bird comes with its own aging characteristic.
There is no flat here and all nets are perched on rocks or along footpaths and firebreaks. Fine while the weather is cool but tiring in the afternoon sun. Although ringing in the National Park where there are no casual walkers, the presence of Barbary Macaques means that little can be left out overnight. It brings additional meaning to the phrase Poo Traps.
And while the ringing goes on, a constant stream of raptors passes overhead. Today just casual glances identified over 60 Booted Eagles at a time, accompanied by Short-toed Eagles, Black Kites and up to a dozen Sparrowhawks. The latter paid close interest to the tape lure playing Blackcap calls and some low level passes just missed the nets. Tomorrow?
The joint Services ringing display team gets off to a cracking start with Roger Dickey, Julia and Robin Springett and Mark Cutts all arriving at Bruce's Farm on time and kicking off with erecting nets in the garden. This activity spurred on by a Red-necked Nightjar flitting about the bushes and tress in close proximity. Not exactly a huge amount of bird activity so a check on Jew's Gate to see what was happening at the southern end of the Rock and to hear how a Booted Eagle was netted that morning and mostly Pied Flies. Appropriate licences and permits secured, the afternoon saw many more Booted Eagles and a single Black Kite. A further check on the migration timetable confirmed that despite appearances, we had arrived at the right time! And then the first warbler - a male Sardinian which in the excitement of ringing anything, I forgot to photograph. Fast forward to today and the erection of another net in the garden and 12 nets at Middle Hill. Regrettably, the lack of levante (cloud over the hill and nets) prevented useful ringing during the afternoon and all return to wash down at Bruces Farm. The early morning had produced Gibraltar's complete collection of Blackbirds but even these proved different in moult, colour and behaviour. So eyes return to the skies and 63 Booted Eagles in one pass accompanied by a Short-toed Eagle and a Sparrowhawk. With 12 new nets to open tomorrow we expect great things...Comments