Monday 28 April 2014

Chobham Common - 28 April 2014

No ringing today, birding only.  We were surprised to find so much surface water collecting in depressions to form impromtu pools and rivulets trickling along tracks and paths.

We really don't seem to have had that much rain. This seems to be the result of moderate rainfall onto ground, still saturated from heavier than usual rain throughout the winter.

We worked the Southside of the common and have some interesting records.

Male Stonechat 

Bird species seen -

Cuckoo, Wood Lark, Tree Pipit, Red Kite, Blackbird, Stonechat (3M, 2F, 2Juv), Dartford Warbler ( 7 - all very busy and probably feeding young), female Redstart, Chaffinch, Northern Wheatear, Swallow, Jay.

Finding birds in the most newly cleared areas is a bit of a challenge.

Other birds heard included Meadow Pipit, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Goldcrest.

Sunday 27 April 2014

Broadwater GP - 25 April 2014

Weather looked a bit dodgy ( so often the case that it's a bit windy or rain is imminent) but we went out any way as we wanted to monitor the site to see if there's much going on during Spring migration after we found so many Phyloscs using it during the Autumn passage.

It was windier than expected at 6am so we limited out efforts to 4 single nets in the most sheltered spots. We could hear lots of birdsong but birds seemed to be sitting tight with little movement going on. The sum total of our efforts, before the rain set in and we have to pack up at 10am, was a couple of Blackcap, a female Bullfinch and a retrapped Robin.

Female Bullfinch

Totals: 3 (1)

Robin- 0 (1)
Blackcap - 2
Bullfinch - 1

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Cyprus - 5 to 19 April 2014 - Part 2

13 April

After a day when birds were a bit thin on the ground we decided to return to a village, up in the mountains, where we have ringed before. Vretsia was a Turkish village that was deserted during the troubles of 1976. The fields are still tended by local people from nearby villages. Vines are cultivated and, of course the olive trees, being very long lived, still persist. The village is just a couple of kilometres from the vulture rehabilitation and release cages. Rather ironic since many of these birds have been injured by shooting, and Vretsia like so many places in Cyprus is littered with shotgun cartridges. Hunting is permited between November and February on Wednesdays and Sundays. On these days the hunters blast away at just about anything that moves. they are not very skilled and around one in three shots hits a target. But, this is April and the only sounds in the valleys are rustling leaves, bongling goat bells and birdsong - with the sound of the odd vehicle.

We only managed 5 birds but we had some very interesting species.

 Masked Shrike

 Cretzchmar's Bunting

 Corn Bunting

Totals: 5

Sardinian Warbler - 1
Masked Shrike - 1
Collared Flycatcher - 1
Cretzchmar's Bunting - 1
Corn Bunting - 1

The sortie up into the mountains brought Jay, Serin and Chaffinch for the list. 

14 April
The day started at Anarita park where a quiet corner of the park, usually overlooked by birders, where we have ringed before, was just about do-able in a stiff breeze. Our efforts only lastest an hour or so but we managed to catch a couple of Spectacled Warbers, a young House Sparrow and another Sardinian Warbler - these birds are doing extremely well to the detriment of the endemic Cyprus Warblers.

A pair of Spectacles!

After a day of birding, when we had no new species, we returned to the Xeros Potamos lower pools area ( perhaps this should be renamed as the sheep farm since that is consistently there) and caught another 15 birds. We got a few more Whinchats, TreePipits, a Nightingale and our first Whitethroats.


Totals: 19

Tree Pipit - 2
Cetti's Warbler - 2
Sardinian Warbler - 2
Spectacled Warbler - 2
Blackcap - 2
Whitethroat - 4
Nightingale - 1
House Sparrow - 1
Whinchat - 3

15 April
We started the day with a walk around the headland at Paphos. A Nightjar was in, and being harrassed by Hooded Crows. We saw  a couple of Nightingales,more flycatchers, Woodchats, wheatears and a Stone Curlew.

Nightjar lying low at Paphos Headland

The Headland

The Lesser Kestrels were still at Anarita where Whinchats, Ortolan Buntings, Woodchat, Spectacled Warbler and Montague's Harriers were also seen. 

Lesser Kestrel

 Spectacled Warbler carrying nesting material

Male Montagu's Harrier

After some low capture numbers we decided to limit ringing to the Xeros Potamos valley near the sheep farm to the evening. 11 birds wasn't too shabby for 90 minutes on site. We got our first Subalpine Warbler ( something that MBR, who unfortunately left the day before, was very keen to see in the hand) and a Black-eared Wheatear.

Subalpine Warbler male

 Black-eared Wheatear female

Total:8 (3)

Black-eared Wheatear - 1
Cetti's Warbler - 0 (2)
Great Reed Warbler - 1
Sardinian Warbler - 2 (1)
Eastern Subalpine Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 1
Whitethroat - 1
Whinchat - 1

16 April
Ringing efforts were split betwen Vretsia in the morning and Xeros Potamos lower pools in the evening. Vretsia was slow going again with just 6 birds processed. After packing up Chris did find an excellent area that seemed to attract a lot of birds, including the only Golden Oriole seen on the trip - an opportinty for another time perhaps but not until another year.

 Olive groves at Vretsia

 Masked Shrike female

While in the Vretsia area a single Crag Martin passed overhead. Masked Shrikes were very common and a European Cuckoo was present.

Masked Shrike

The Xeros Potamos was still producing Whinchat as these birds continued to go through in good numbers, but the bird of real note was a most obliging Thrush Nightingale that leapt into the net and posed no difficulty at all as to its identity. It even called loudly allowing us to compare this to the usual vocalisation expected from Nightingale.

 Thrush Nightingale

Wingpoint P3, P2= almost P4

A Willow Warbler was a new species, for the list, seen during the ringing session.

Totals: 15 (2)

Masked Shrike - 1
Cetti's Warbler - 1
Thrush Nightingale - 1
Sardinian Warbler - 0 (1)
Blackcap - 1
Whitethroat - 0 (1)
Great Tit - 1
Whinchat - 6
Goldfinch - 2
Spanish Sparrow - 1
Cretzchmar's Bunting - 1

17 April
One last try at Kouklia although we knew by now that the lack of water was seriously affecting the number of birds stopping in. Hopefully many were just able to continue inland before breaking their journeys. We got another Ruppell's Warbler but were most pleased to get our first control in Cyprus. The Eastern Olivaceous Warbler carried a ring issued by Tel Aviv University, Isreal.

 Eastern Olivaceous Warbler X101871 controlled in Cyprus with Isreali ring

Female Ruppell's Warbler

Totals:11 (1)

Tree Pipit - 2
Reed Warbler - 1
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - 2 (1)
Ruppell's Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 4

Birding at Kouklia and Anarita failed to find an Icterine Warbler (two had been reported on the previous date) although Montagu's Harriers, Ruppell's Warbler, Wryneck, Redstart and Lesser Whitethroat were among the birds seen.

18 April
We didn't ring in the morning of this date so arrived early at Phassouri Reedbed to find groups of Glossy Ibis, Little Egret, Cattle Egret and Squacco Heron in the pools with Ruff and Wood Sandpipers. No Spur-winged Plovers were at the site this year unlike previous years. A Redstart, some Whinchat and Wheatears were in the drier areas while a Marsh Harrier was seen overhead.

Phassouri Reedbed

Akrotiri Salt Lake had Flamingoes, Black-winged Stilt, Slender-billed Gull, Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Shelduck and a Curlew. Zakaki has a Temminck's Stint, White Wagtail, 2 Spotted Crakes and a Snipe with other species previously seen there.

 Akrotiri Salt Lake

The gravel pits were disappointing. We found a group of 16 Little Egrets by a pool and other birds present were Nightingale, Whinchats, Buzzard, Lesser Whitethrot, Wheatear, Black-eared Wheatear with Common and Green Sandpiper.

 Akrotiri Gravel Pits

Bishop's Pool gave us Ferrugenus Duck, Kingfisher and Teal. Also Wood Warbler, Spotted Fly,Whinchat (16) Redstart, Chiffchaff and c20 Turtle Dove amongst others.

Bishop's Pool

After our day over at Akrotiri, we finished off with a last spell with 3 nets up at the Xeros Potamos. We only got 6 more birds, not enough to bring our grand total to 200, which had not seemed that ambitious at the start of our trip. So we finished with a total of 197 birds. During that time a couple of Bee-eaters flew down the valley and back. Short-toed Larks (4) were seen in an adjacent field.

Great Reed Warbler


Great Reed Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 1
Whinchat - 4


Jets overhead at the Desalination plant and riverbed made us feel very at home. Just like being at Stanwell Moor - our site adjacent to Heathrow.

19 April
Due to Cyprus Airways sellings the slot, back into Heathrow, for which we'd been booked for more than 11 months, it was time to travel to Larnaca (as we effectively lost a whole day thanks to the new arrangement). The plan was to bird sites along the route, to stay in a cheap hotel over night, then get the 9.30am flight to Amsterdam, then wait two hours for our flight to Heathrow.

We stopped off at Zakaki Marsh where there was nothing new, but it was nice to get another look at the Spotted Crake.
Moving on, we were shocked at how much Kiti had been built up. We found our way to the dam, more by luck than judgement, finding a flock of Bee-eaters with many settled on the groud in the pouring rain.


We had the place to ourselves and found several Spotted Flycatchers in the trees around the parking area. While scouring the vegetated area within the reservoir basin we found that the rain had forced quite a few birds down. There were more Spotted Flycatchers, and Redstarts, Pied Flycatchers, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler, Willow Warbler, Ortolan Bunting, Whinchats and a probable Icterine Warbler. Also Woodchat Shrike, Great Spotted, Eurasean Cuckoo and a flock of c50 Turtle Doves. Also in the wider general vicinity were Montagu's and Pallid Harrier.

Female Montagu's Harrier

 Larnaca Sewage works had a Little Tern, 4 Spotted Redshank, 4 Black-headed Gull and 5 Spur-winged Plover with 2 Garganey and a Shelduck as well as 12 Squacco Heron, 12 Ruff and a Little Egret. We had a very distant view of 3 Collared Pratincole overhead.

Oroklini Lake, another body of water that has had a clean up and addition of fencing and a viewing hide.

The lake held Greater Flamingoes, Red-crested Pochard, Glossy Ibis, Black-winged Stilt, Cttle Egret, Ruff, Teal, GarganySquaco Heron, Spur-winged Plover and Little Tern.

Larnaca Salt Lake brought no new species but was still very beautiful at dusk and a fitting end to our birding stay in Cyprus.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Cyprus - 5 to 19 April 2014 - Part 1

5 April
A day spent bird watching around the Polis and Evretou dam area as we collected the rings from the Western end of the island. There was also a little time for scouting local sites and checking out what was around locally. Most interesting species were Great White Egret, Citrine Wagtail and a couple of Water Pipits at Evretou dam.

A check of the riverbeds around Paphos proved that there was no water at any of our usual ringing sites.
At the Xeros Potamos lower pools area (no pools this year though) we had Wryneck, Bluethroat, Eastern Subalpine and Ruppell's Warblers.

6 April
Our first ringing session was to be at the Kouklia River/Reedbed. The area closest to the sea has now gone under the plough so the opportunity to get retraps from previous years there has been lost. However we still managed three retraps including consecutive numbers on a Cetti's and a Sardinian Warbler. We were disappointed with a low return of only 10 birds - partly due to hardly any Blackcaps, a species that has made up much of the catch in past years. Hopefully they went through early this year. We were given a timely reminder that Blunt-nosed vipers (very poisonous, bad tempered and just emerging from their winter tauper at this time of year) as we spotted a huge snake secreted into a cavity of the river bed just a metre or two from one of our nets.

Blunt nosed viper

 Sardinean Warbler

Totals: 7 (3)

Cetti's Warbler - 0 (2)
Great Reed Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 1
Sardinian Warbler - 0 (1)
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Blackcap - 2
Chiffchaff - 1
Greenfinch - 1

7 April
Our next ringing session was at the Xeros Potamos reedbed next to the Desalination plant. This was a day that produced 25 birds - more what we would expect. There was a single crested Lark and an Ortolan Bunting amongst the usual reedbed regulars. We had a couple of interesting retraps. A Reed Warbler 28386 which was probably ringed 3 or 4 years ago and Cetti's 32857 which was probably done 2 years ago.

 Crested Lark

Ortolan Bunting

Totals: 23 (2)
Crested Lark - 1
Cetti's Warbler - 6 (1)
Great Reed Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 8 (1)
Sardinian Warbler - 4
Blackcap - 2
Ortolan Bunting - 1

8 April
We were joined by our friend for part of the trip and MBR appeared on the ringing data sheet from this date to the 14th. We went up to the Adonis Falls hills as birds didn't seem to be coming in and it was hoped that they maybe feeding up in the rather more lush vegetation away from the coast. It was another sparse session but there was at least some quality among the 7 birds that were processed. We managed to net Wood and Eastern Bonelli's Warbler along with an Eastern Orphean Warbler.

 Wood Warbler

 Eastern Orphean Warbler

 Eastern Bonelli's Warbler

Totals: 7
Nightingale - 1
Sardinian Warbler - 3
Eastern Orphean Warbler - 1
Eastern Bonelli's Warbler - 1
Wood Warbler - 1

9 April
Our second visit to Kouklia went quite well. Birds were arriving - lots of Red-throated and Tree Pipits calling over head and a few Whinchats seen. Blackcaps were apparent in great volume and we caught our first Eastern Olivaceous warbler.

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

Totals: 26 (3)
Tree Pipit - 4
Whinchat - 1
Cetti's Warbler - 2 (1)
Sedge Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 1
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler - 1
Sardinean Warbler - 3 (1)
Blackcap - 12
Chiffchaff - 0 (1)
Ortolan Bunting - 1

10 April
We went back inland to the Adonis Falls area since weather conditions didn't suggest that there would be a morning arrival and birds tend to push on by the evening. Our hunch paid off and 24 birds were processed. It was a little disconcerting with a pack of some 30 dogs (including a German Shepherd and Doberman) ranging free on the slopes just above our location but thankfully we were left alone. Leading species was Wood Warbler. There were also a few flycatchers around and a couple of Great Spotted Cuckoo that flew about and watched us for much of the morning. We were happy to connect with some of the flycatchers and were most surprised to end up with both cuckoos in the net a one time although one effected it's escape before it could be secured. A local endemic, Cyprus Warbler, was also caught that morning.

 Cyprus Warbler

Great Spotted Cuckoo

Totals: 22 (1)
Great Spotted Cuckoo - 1
Tree Pipit - 3
Sardinian Warbler - 1
Cyprus Warbler - 2
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Blackcap - 1
Eastern Bonelli's Warbler - 1 (1)
Wood Warbler - 5
Pied Flycatcher - 1
Collared Flycatcher - 3
Great Tit - 2
Goldfinch - 1

11 April
An early start at the Xeros Potamos reedbed was lack lustre with only 13 caught, but a return evening visit to the area of the dried out pools, out total pushed up to 24 including the only Woodchat Shrike of the visit (although we saw good numbers of these on migration right up to the end of our trip). We had another two Ruppell's Warblers making it our best total for this particular warbler ever.

 Woodchat Shrike

Ruppell's Warbler

Totals: 19 (5)
Tree Pipit - 3
Cetti's Warbler - 1 (4)
Reed Warbler - 6 (1)
Sedge Warbler - 1
Sardinian Warbler - 3
Ruppell's Warbler - 2
Blackcap - 2
Woodchat Shrike - 1

12 April
A slow day at Kouklia saw us taking down for 10.30am and wondering whether the 5am get up was really worth while. The total didn't even get in to double figures.


Totals: 7 (2)
Cetti's Warbler - 2 (1)
Reed Warbler - 1
Sardinian Warbler - 2 (1)
Blackcap - 2

Tuesday 1 April 2014

Iver Heath garden - March 2014

Siskin numbers were on the rise with the transition from February to March. There were a few dates when early morning numbers in the nearby ash trees, and the volume of twittering indicated that numbers had received a boost - but then other days were very quiet indeed.

We were pleased to process two controls and details of the following are awaited.

D381689 a 5M captured on the 6th and Y551884 a 6F that was caught on the 9th.

Here are some interesting individuals.

 D710850 a smart 6M Siskin


D710885 5M showing retained median coverts as well as all greater coverts. 

 Control Y551884 6F

There were only 8 species on the list and Siskin accounted for well over half of the birds caught. This has not been one of our best years by a long chalk but it's nice to host these lovely little birds as most ( there is ocassional breeding in our local country park, Black Park) take a break from their Northward journey.

Numbers have tailed right off now so we do not expect to catch more until next winter - unless of course we get juveniles in late April to May.

Totals: 58 (12)

Great Spotted Woodpecker - 1
Dunnock - 0 (1)
Robin - 0 (4)
Blackbird - 4 (2)
Blue Tit - 2 (1)
Goldfinch - 14
Siskin - 36 (3)
Lesser Redpoll - 1 (1)