Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Broadwater GP - 13th October 2017

Broadwater GP was monitored today, our only real option, being a very sheltered site in rather blustery conditions. MRB and Margaret were also present and a total of eight nets were used.
There had been quite a few birds, thrushes and Robins mainly, along the track as we accessed the site. We could also hear plenty of Goldcrests in the surrounding vegetation during setting up. We caught some, but the catch was not particularly large. The Long-tailed tits came down to net level, and boosted our numbers somewhat. Our best birds were Lesser Redpoll and Redwing (first of the winter), just one of each and a Treecreeper.

Redwing, age 3

Treecreeper, age 3

3F Goldcrest

3M Coal Tit

Lesser Redpoll, age 3

Retrap Goldcrest DPH887 was ringed on 30th September 2015 by PD. Since that time it has been captured a further five times, always between August and November although absent in 2016, and never processed by someone that's handled it before - until today. MRB processed it this morning and he was also the processor, two years ago to the day.

Totals:   33 (4)
Wren - 1
Dunnock - 0 (2)
Robin - 0 (1)
Redwing - 1
Chiffchaff - 4
Goldcrest - 9 (1)
Long-tailed Tit - 10
Blue Tit - 5
Coal Tit - 1
Lesser Redpoll - 1
Treecreeper - 1

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Stanwell Moor GP - 9th October 2017

The restoration of the site near where we ring should be fully completed now so we went over to see about the new access arrangements. We found that the area is now levelled with a layer of top soil that has been seeded. There is a track alongside the mound and we'll be able to drive over to our usual spot once the grass is established.

Having made the trip we put up a three of nets for a couple of hours and waited to see what was about. There were no Blackcaps at all, but a couple of Chiffchaff and some Goldcrests were netted. The tit flock passed through with some caught and it was nice to see a group of six Siskin drop in to drink briefly at a puddle, although none were captured. Meadow Pipits proved tricky, only one being caught. The least expected bird was a Redwing. We has heard a few overhead and didn't expect a capture, but this date is the earliest that we have personnaly caught Redwing with one other group record for 9th October 1999.

Age 3 Redwing

Total: 14 (1)

Meadow Pipit - 1
Redwing - 1
Wren - 1
Robin - 0 (1)
Chiffchaff - 3
Goldcrest - 2
Long-tailed Tit - 2
Blue Tit - 2
Great Tit - 1
Linnet - 1

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Chobham Common - 8th October 2017

Now that warbler season has all but finished we thought that the common would be worth a go. We were joined by WA and LON who haven't been out for a while due to foreign travel during the second half of September.

Our three primary targets were Redpoll, Goldcrest and Meadow Pipit with of course the usual effort to monitor the population of Dartford Warblers.

We put up three singles, a V configuration and a double and were catching before the last nets were up. The Redpolls came in consistently with a couple of waves of Goldcrest and some interest from the Meadow Pipits resulting in just three birds in the nets. We got one Dartford Warbler and there was also a tit flock that helped vary the species diversity.

It was a busy session and it was good to see that our trainees have attained the stage where there is no 'rustiness' after a few weeks away from ringing and extraction.

Age 3 Lesser Redpoll

Age 3 Meadow Pipit

3M Reed Bunting

We were puzzled to capture a Lesser Redpoll bearing a group ring S444913. At first we thought that another group member may have ringed the bird in the preceeding days, but on liaising with our group's rings officer it transpired that the bird had been ringed at Wraysbury, 9km away, earlier that same morning. Their recorded time was 8:55am with the bird processed by us at midday. 

Totals: 117 (1)

Meadow Pipit - 3
Dartford Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff - 2
Goldcrest - 14
Long-tailed Tit - 6
Blue Tit - 4
Great Tit - 2
Lesser Redpoll -  84 (1)
Reed Bunting - 1

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Cyprus autumn 2017 - 5th October

On our last day we had a few things to do at the house and had a late start, heading first to Limassol before finishing up at Larnaca where we were to catch our flight home.

We spent some time at Phassouri, seeing nothing additional to our other trips and missing the Levant's Sparrowhawk by a day. There were some fairly distant raptors from the South Hide, Bonelli's Eagle, Montagu's Harrier and Eleanora's Falcon.

At Zakaki Marsh we were fortunate enough to see the Little Crake, as it spent a lot of time wandering around in the open. The Bluethroat was still showing, as was a single Little Swift still, along with up to ten Red-rumped Swallows.

Little Crake

At Larnaca we found that the Salt Lake, Meneou Pools and Spiro Pools were all completely dry. At the sewage farm, one basin was dry, holding some groups of waders although the light angle towards the end of the day made viewing and identification difficult. But, most appeared to be either Little Stint, Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover or Dunlin, but a single Collared Pratincole was also present. The filled basin had a lot of ducks around its banks with Flamingo gathered at the far end, with couple of White-winged Black and a single Whiskered Tern, single Black-necked Grebe, nine Ferruginous Duck, a couple of Grey Plover and Spotted Redshank, a Black-tailed Godwit, and the usual large group of Ruff. 

Cyprus autumn 2017 - 4th October

Our last ringing day in Cyprus, and we  were joined by Graeme who again scribed for us. This was most helpful as we captured more than 60 birds and nets needed frequent checking in the temperatures, unseasonally hot for October.

Our best capture has to be a Laughing Dove, from the records available, probably the first ringed in South Cyprus. A few years back we were searching the port area at Limassol for one of a small number of birds, regularly seen there and now they are being seen more frequently at various locations. We've seen Laughing Dove at both Mandria and, the donkey sanctuary, Paphos in the last year - but never where we ring before. Initially it was suggested they were releases, but with natural populations in Turkey and Israel, whilst there may have been some from keepers, they probably have naturally expanded from the nearby mainland breeding areas.
Laughing Dove

This was the first day with Red-throated Pipit heard overhead throughout the morning. A few small groups were seen dropping into bushes in the ringing area and one was caught.

Red-throated Pipit

Record shot of three Common Cranes seen flying over.

Juvenile female Redstart

Today there was a sense that birds were on the move with discernible times were birds were working through and other times when nothing moved. The Willow Warblers continued picking their way through the weedy plants and were, again, our leading species.

Totals: 64 (2)

Laughing Dove - 1
Crested Lark - 0 (1)
Red-throated Pipit - 1
Redstart - 1
Reed Warbler - 2
Sardinian Warbler - 9 (1)
Garden Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 15
Willow Warbler - 32
Spanish Sparrow - 2

Later we birded Ayia Varvara and Mandria.

There were no new species at Ayia Varvara - but we spent some time photographing butterflies and enjoyed watching the Bee-eaters feeding from the wires.

African Grass Blue

There had been some 60 Red-footed Falcons at Mandria the previous day but we could see no sign of them.
Long-tailed Blue

Eventually we found some 20 or so birds that had remained, and were feeding on a recently ploughed field, known amongst regular Mandria birders as lark corner. The birds were all feeding on insects and some took advantage of the irrigation system to freshen up.

Red-footed Falcon - juveniles

adult male

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Cyprus autumn 2017 - 3rd October

A trip up to the Troodos was planned for this date, to see whether there really was as little evidence of migration at that altitude at this time of year, since so few reports were coming through, and also to get a day with reduced temperatures. We knew there had been rain so hoped to find some puddles giving oportunities to photograph birds coming to bathe and drink.

We located an area with a burst pipe and settled down to watch, but were soon asked to move on as we were close to the army base where photography is forbidden - even when the camera is pointed away from the base.

We checked out another place where water sometimes pools at a semi-built hotel but there was nothing. Apart from Chaffinch, Cyprus Coal Tit, Crossbill, Treecreeper and Jay there wasn't too much to see. No small finches, thrushes or buntings.

When the air started to warm up we photographed some butterflies in wild flowers by the road.
Clouded Yellow

At the picnic sites some unpromising, stony ground provided the right conditions for the endemic Aprodite or Cyprus Crocus.

Crocus veneris

Probably the best birds of the day were two Griffon Vultures seen to drift over southwards. We usually only see vultures at Kensington Cliffs so these may have been either migratory or resident birds.

One of the Griffon Vultures over Troodos

Moving on to Platania picnic site we watched birds at the steam that runs through the site. 

Cyprus Coal Tit

This was the site where a Yellow-browed Warbler was found last year but there was nothing unusual today with barely a Willow Warbler to be heard.

Butterflies attracted to the few damp areas around Troodos - Platania.

Cyprus Grayling

Eastern Rock Grayling

A single Spotted Flycatcher seen in the visitor centre car park

The trees make the area much greener than at the lower altitudes - 
another reservoir can be seen at well below full capacity.

A check at Asprokremnos dam on the way back to the house turned up a juvenile Whiskered Tern.

Whiskered Tern

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Cyprus autumn 2017 - 2nd October

The day started on a positive note with a Nightjar sighted as we drove through the semi-light towards Arodes. Today we returned to the new area, discovered recently, and set up five single nets. It was quite hard work with the route to some nets being on rather steep paths. We had an initial catch of Blackcap, then a few Willow Warbler. The Cyprus Wheatears were less cooperative today with only one captured, and the less expected captures were a Cyprus Warbler, Linnet and Whitethroat.

3M Cyprus Warbler

Cyprus Warbler in arrested moult 0 to the 6, 5 to the 4

4M Linnet

4M Whitethroat

Cyprus Wheatear 3F

While working, we saw a Raven fly through, and after ringing, a brief tour around turned up a few Red-backed Shrike and singles of Lesser Grey and Masked Shrike.

Adult male Red-backed Shrike

There were a few butterflies around. Most were difficult to photograph but this species would remain still when in shady areas.

Cyprus Meadow Brown.

Totals: 32

Cyprus Wheatear - 1
Sardinian Warbler - 4
Cyprus Warbler - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Whitethroat - 1
Garden Warbler - 2
Blackcap - 13
Willow Warbler - 6
Great Tit - 2
Linnet - 1

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Cyprus autumn 2017 - 1st October

We travelled over to Limassol today, hoping for a few migrating raptors. We had an early start as we're awake before 5am anyway and were at Zakaki before 6:30am. Most of the raptors seen were early in the morning and included three Bonelli's Eagles, a Marsh Harrier and three Honey Buzzards.

The Water Rails were quite vocal and there must have been at least four with some juveniles.

Water Rail at Zakaki

We watched the Reed Warblers and a Cetti's Warbler picking through the reeds before the wind got up too much.

Reed Warbler at Zakaki marsh

There were several herons and egrets in the open water but only those that flew could be seen. A Bluethroat was very obliging and ran around just in front of the hide.


When the hirundines came over, there were four Little Swifts in with them.

Little Swift

We had the best of the day there really. Moving on to Akrotiri Marsh we looked at the South Hide and were disappointed by the open water that has been created there. Not an extensive scrape area, more of a pond feature. We wondered how long before the viewing is as obscrured as at Zakaki as there never seems to be any provision for maintenance.

View from South Hide, Akrotiri marsh

The metal fence round the grazed area still didn't look any better than the last time. Such a shame - imagine the uproar if a British nature reserve was left like that. So much money spent - will it turn out to be a triumph for wildlife planning - we shall wait and see.

The fence provides a boundary along the entire roadside and down to the reedside hide.

Quite an expense all that metal.

Nice information board and signage too.

So just how much money was spent on improving the condition of the reedbed and returning more areas to open water? The reason for the fencing was to allow cattle to graze the marsh and consume some of the reeds. The cattle were mainly to be open grazing, but old habits die hard and most are still tethered. The reed bed was more open in the 90s with less cattle than now on site, so not sure grazing is the whole issue. Unfortunately the low rainfall in Cyprus over the past few years is not helping. Fingers crossed that there is winter rain and we can see some valuable outcome next spring with more birds on site.  The hide in the area of the main bird watching area for the last 30 years is on one low level and is not got a lot of space. It is true that money is not overly plentiful, but last winter money was spent grubbing out a whole area of reeds, which has re-grown. It is really great to see any conversation work done in Cyprus, but I will say, this has a fair bit of RSPB input, and would we be happy with a reserve looking like this in the UK, with such limited open water, metal fencing all round and the old main viewing area with such a small hide?

Red-backed Shrike finds something to sit on!

Bishop's Pool had the usual birds with the addition of a Tufted Duck.