Friday 14 December 2018

Black Park CP - 14th December 2018

Our first day out ringing since returning from Cyprus and we opted for Black Park, quite close to where we live and not possible to ring throughout the whole year due to heavy usage by dog walkers. Once it gets colder there tends to be fewer people using the park. This was to be our first visit this year.

We arrived while it was too dark to set up and spent a while waiting for it to become light enough to avoid tripping up on the low level gorse. Five nets went up and during that time we heard Redpoll emerging from roost close by, but they didn't stay and not a single one was caught. Despite that disappointment, we caught over 40 birds, the species broadly representative of what could be expected in habitat such as this. There were fewer Goldcrest than anticipated and we caught more tits than anything else. There were two recaptured Blue Tits, APA0463 and APA0496, both ringed at the site on 23rd October 2017. We also managed to catch seven Redwing from a flock that we've seen feeding in the leaf litter under the mature trees of the heavily wooded area.

Coal Tit


Totals: 39 (2)

Wren - 1
Robin - 2
Dunnock - 1
Redwing - 7
Goldcrest - 3
Long-tailed Tit - 5
Coal Tit - 3
Blue Tit - 12 (2)
Great Tit - 5

Cyprus - 6th to 8th December 2018

6th December

The 6th was forecast to be the first decent day after rain and thunderstorms at some point over the previous few days. We decided not to chance setting up and instead drove over to Limassol. It was already raining before we arrived. We started off at the Zakaki hide where there had been some clearance, but reeds were already springing up fast. The water level was high and it was only possible to see Bluethroat along the roadside edge, there being no open ground in front of the hide. There we also saw Moustached Warbler and Water Rail. Penduline Tit was heard but not seen.

Water Rail

Cetti's Warbler

There was no prospect of driving around the back, the ground being so wet and we headed on to Ladies Mile to look at the gulls. Here there were many, many Blacked-headed Gulls on the pools. Chris managed to locate the Meditterranean Gull and there were big gull species too, Caspian, Armenian and Yellow-legged Gulls.

Armenian Gull


A flock of Greater Flamingoes

It was inadvisable to use the beach crossing due to the sand being very soft but we took the longer route and visited Bishop's pool, in the rain again, where the water level was just about the highest we'd ever seen.

Bishop's pool held Ferruginous ducks, Shoveler, Teal, Coot, Moorhen, 
Little Grebe and a single Black-necked Grebe.

Moving on to Akrotiri marsh, the site continues to look dreadful behind the scaffolding used to fence out the birders. There are more cows than ever now and the area looked over grazed. The birds seen from the hide were limited to a couple of Water Pipits.

We also looked at the tall hide and pools put in for Ferruginous Ducks. It was as devoid of life as every other time we have looked there.

It continued to rain into the afternoon.

There was supposed to be no rain after 2pm at Pafos and, having got back early, we tried a couple of nets by the sewage works. We had only got five birds when thunder began rumbling down from some rather dark and threatening clouds, with rain in attendance so we packed in at retreated into the dry.

Total: 5

Sardinian Warbler - 1
Chiffchaff - 4

7th December

This being our last full day in Cyprus, we decided to return to Kouklia. Grahame joined us and a total of 72 birds were processed. The Serin were still in the area, and a flock of Greenfinch has roosted closeby. We had the usual few Blackcaps. However a couple of men came through the site with a pack of dogs, we counted eight but they were all over the place and we never saw all of them at the same time. At one point a hare came dashing ahead of five dogs. I (Denise) had rushed round pushing nets up but found, on checking them later, that we had a large hole in one of our 18m nets.


Totals:  63 (9)

Robin – 1 (2)
Stonechat - 2
Cetti’s Warbler - 5 (2)
Sardinian Warbler – 5 (4)
Blackcap – 10 (1)
Chiffchaff – 3
Spanish Sparrow - 1
Greenfinch - 12
Serin – 24

We spent the afternoon walking walking in Secret Valley. It was clear that the recent rain had severely damaged the track and brought a lot of material down from the cliffs. We saw a lot of Song Thrushes, Stonechats and Jackdaws with a couple of Black Redstart. No sign of either Blue Rock Thrush, a species we've seen there before or Wallcreeper although the cliffs at the far end of the valley always look promising.

The lake in Secret Valley

8th December

Our flight wasn't until 6:30pm. On the one hand we could ring a few more birds if the weather was okay, but then we didn't want to be left with wet nets and bird bags and no way to dry them. We decided to do Kouklia one last time, possibly against our better judgement, this being a Saturday when more people have free time and following the dogs incident of the day before.

We put up a total of 42m. There was rain before the second net went up. After a pause we continued. We soon had a visit from a man and his dog who turned out to be the person farming the plot, now directly adjacent to where we ring. He was just seeing what we were doing and a very pleasant man. Later we were slightly alarmed by a truck coming down the track. Alarmed because the track is rarely used and one of the nets has guys that extend onto the track, and the net could be brought down if the guy were not seen by the driver. As it turned out it was the officer from the game fund that we had met in Polis. He had seen us and become suspicious. It's good to know that the game fund had patrols out looking for illicit hunting. He checked out licence thoroughly and hopes to join us when we return to Cyprus is the spring. We also found out that it is an offence to take a pack of dogs out, as we had witnessed the day before, and we should have contacted the game fund.

A rather green looking Kouklia. The result of the recent rain.

So we left Kouklia with the river running brown, wondering whether there will be any water in the spring.

Totals: 39 (4)         

Woodlark - 3
Robin – 1 (1)
Cetti’s Warbler - 2
Sardinian Warbler – 1
Blackcap – 7 (1)
Chiffchaff – 1 (2)
Spanish Sparrow - 1
Goldfinch - 2
Greenfinch - 2
Serin – 19

Monday 10 December 2018

Cyprus - 3rd & 5th December 2018

With a forecast for thunderstorms in the coming days we gave the track by Paphos sewage works a go. There were quite a few Chiffs there but it was a bright day and we had problems with birds seeing the nets. This is a very small area to work and for the four nets up we only just struggled into double figures. Grahame had come to scribe and all three of us found it a disappointing morning.

3F Stonechat

Grey Wagtail, aged 3

Totals: 10

Grey Wagtail - 1
Robin - 3
Stonechat - 1
Cetti's Warbler - 1
Sardinian Warbler - 1
Blackcap - 2
Chiffchaff - 1

Lobed Argiope

Clouded Yellow

Laing's short-tailed Blue

In the afternoon a look around Agia Varvara found all the tanks wet. Birds were coming in for a drink and among the darters we found a Lesser Emperor.

Vagrant Emperor

Serins waiting to drink

The 4th was a day of heavy rain, thunder, lightning and flash flooding. We did venture out the following day, between the heavy showers, to Cape Dreparnum where we found a few Starlings, the usual Stonechats and Black Redstart and an obliging Black Francolin.


Black Francolin male

An afternoon try at the Sewage works produced just 4 Chiffs and a Stonechat.

Total: 5

Stonechat - 1
Chiffchaff - 4

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Cyprus - 2nd December 2018

We returned to Koukli, starting at 5:30am. There were a lot of Serin around with small flocks of Woodlark seen overhead, as well as the usual Sardinan and Cetti's Warblers. We got seven nets up and began catching quite well.

Male Serin

3M Black Redstart

Totals: 72 (6)

Woodlark – 1
Meadow Pipit - 3
Black Redstart - 1
Robin – 5 (2)
Cetti’s Warbler - 2 (2)
Sardinian Warbler – 10
Blackcap – 17 (1)
Chiffchaff – 8
Great Tit - 0 (1)
Spanish Sparrow - 1
Chaffinch - 1
Serin – 23

After ringing we checked out the Desalination Plant. A field, rather pungent with the smell of peppers was no deterent to the Stonechats.

Female Stonechat

Closer to our usual ringing spot we found that the fire had cleared a lot of the bramble while reed regeneration was already coming on at a pace. There should be options here in the spring.

Record shot of a rather late male Red-backed Shrike.

Rather dry, but spectacular nonetheless, seed head

An abandoned citrus grove already has trees coming into bloom, 
creating a delicious scent as you walk between the rows.

Next stop Mandria although by now it was raining. A single Dunlin preferred a muddy puddle to the shingle beach.


On the fields some Golden Plover were spotted before being flushed off by an incoming plane. There was also a sizable flock of Skylarks.

Monday 3 December 2018

Cyprus - 1st December 2018

Cyprus - 1st December 2018

Today we tried the site at Ayios Minas near Neo Chorio. The weather was good and the birds were very much in evidence, being vocal but not showing much and sitting tight. Net result, less than 10 birds.

Total: 8 (1)
Robin – 2
Cetti’s Warbler – 0 (1)
Sardinian Warbler – 1
Blackcap – 3
Chiffchaff – 1
Chaffinch – 1

Ringed and photographed birds from the morning included a Chiffchaff and Blackcap.


Female Blackcap

After that we returned to Polis to look at the river (mainly to see if there was water or not) to look for birds and new places where netting might be possible. The reccie was disappointing as the river was bone dry. However, we did find some mist nets in use – so probably a good place to catch birds but not for us if illicit trapping is happening there.

Illegal mist nets

We were on the phone to the game fund when someone came back to check them. He didn’t get out of the 4x4 but left, quickly, having left some nice tyre tracks. We also clocked the number. While we waited we looked at the dragonflies and frogs – as there were very few birds. 

Levant Water Frog

Common Darter

Eventually we met up with the guys (and they are armed), taking one to the location. They thanked us and set about putting into action a plan to ambush the illegal trappers. We hope they got them. If not at least the nets will be confiscated.

Next we checked P2 – a lot of clearing needed there if it is to be worked, and finally a look at Evretou Dam and the river at Goudi.  No Moustached Warblers there but it’s not surprising now it’s been cleared through.

Goudi channel

Migrant Hawker

Blue-tailed Damselfly

Saturday 1 December 2018

Cyprus - 30th November 2018

A short visit to Cyprus, mainly to check on the property – but, as there wasn’t too much to put right there’s a chance to get out and do some ringing, weather permitting. Weather looks set to deteriorate from Tuesday onwards so we will try to get some sessions in early.
We made our first session Kouklia. Rain was due at 10am but up until then wind was quite low. We just had to ensure that we weren’t caught out by the thundery showers.
We got six nets up as a good spread of species could be heard all around us. Most notable were the high number of Robins ticking although none were seen, several Stonechat and small Woodlark flocks passing overhead from time to time.


The first round came to 20 or so birds. One of the Sardinian Warblers was rather darker than usual and feather samples were taken for the University of Cyprus’ ongoing study on melanistic birds from the area. There was also a Stonechat showing features similar to the ones seen on a bird that had been ringed in Denmark, before our visit there, as a Stenger’s Stonechat. We didn’t think our bird was but saved a feather for analysis.
Other  unexpected birds in the catch were a Blackbird, another rarely seen species and a couple of White Wagtails.

Adult female Blackbird

White Wagtail adult

Totals: 35 (2)

Woodlark – 1
White Wagtail - 2
Robin – 5
Stonechat - 2
Blackbird – 1
Cetti’s Warbler - 1
Sardinian Warbler – 7 (1)
Blackcap – 11 (1)
Chiffchaff – 2
Spanish Sparrow - 1
Serin – 2

The rain came in very quickly and was very hard with strong wind, thunder and lightning. We had already extracted all birds and pushed up then  had to take down after the ‘showers’ had gone through.
We decided to look at the Desalination plant, another area where we have ringed in the past and were engrossed with watching an adult male Red-backed Shrike (a rather late date) when we noticed a Kestrel in the road ahead. It appeared unable to fly and we believed it may have struck the powerlines that run the length of the access road there. Chris caught it and on inspection the wing was stuck to the feathers on the breast. It looked as though it had escaped a limestick. We contacted Birdlife Cyprus and then the Game Fund. They arranged to collect the bird and take it to Nicosia for rehabilitation. It was hungry and the primaries had been badly damaged. It needed time to feed up and regrow quite a few feathers.

This Kestrel went unringed and was taken to Nicosia for R&R

Severely damaged primaries. When picked up the wing was stuck to the bird's breast and the gluey substance was all on its beak. Many of the feather filaments were torn away when the bird managed to escape.

Suspect fields, nect to the road where the bird was found.

We rounded the day with a bit more birding at Anarita and Acheilia.

Male Stonechat, Anarita 

Black Redstart, Acheilia

Saturday 24 November 2018

Broadwater GP - 22nd November 2018

Back in the very wintery UK and back to erecting nets everytime we run a ringing session. With a little gentle encouragement MRB and Margaret agreed to meet up for a catch up and hopefully to ring a few birds. We arranged a meet time of 7am but were disappointed by how light it was by that stage, no chance of targetting Redwings leaving roost. It's surprising how much difference the latitude plus time difference makes as we were used to taking the first round at 8am while the light was still quite dim.

We had 5 nets up and captured mainly tits with a few Goldcrests. A Jay was the least often caught species.


Adult Robin

Total: 11 (21)

Robin - 1 (1)
Blackbird - 0 (1)
Goldcrest - 3 (2)
Long-tailed Tit- 2 (8)
Blue Tit - 1 (6)
Great Tit - 3 (3)
Jay - 1

Friday 23 November 2018

Gedser, Denmark 13th to 18th November

We continue with standard ringing until the last date of the season so just two more days to go until we can use tape lures during the morning. Numbers are dropping, but this morning we managed to catch a Fieldfare.

Male Fieldfare

The stragglers are still coming through, with singles of Robin and Goldcrest ringed today.  The leading species at present is Mealy Redpoll as we have been managing to tape small numbers after standard ringing is completed. The males are so smart with their 'raspberry ripple' good looks.

2k+ male Mealy Redpoll

Ringing Totals: 32 (7)

Rødhals / Robin – 1 (3)
Sjagger / Fieldfare - 1
Solsort / Blackbird – 0 (1)
Fuglekonge / Goldcrest–  1 (1)

Blåmejse / Blue Tit - 2
Musvit / Great Tit – 0 
Stor Gråsisken / Mealy Redpoll – 26
Lille Gråsisken / Lesser Redpoll – 1
Lille Dompap / Western Bullfinch – 0 (1)

In the afternoon we tried for Mute Swan again, catching one bird, in need of food and with a superficial wound on the neck. The bird was relocated to the harbour where it was more sheltered and could feed on grass.

Efforts in the evening focused on trying for owls ( we failed), also a short check at Birkamose beach for waders. Again, there were none (not surprising as beaches are regularly walked by dog walkers and people searching for Baltic amber, even after dark) and we resorted to for looking for amber and fossils along the tide line.

Beach combing finds from our stay here including belemnites, an echinoid
 and amber (not found by us but a gift from Hans' own collection)

14th November

After a couple of quiet days it seems that migration is now back on. We recorded a few species that we've not seen for a few days, Greenfinch and Blackcap included, then found there were still some largish flocks of Redpoll around later in the day when we could play tapes. We caught over 200 Mealys, mostly in the afternoon with an Arctic amongst them.

Arctic Redpoll - faint streaking on flanks

Small eye, nasel hairs covering top portion of smaller, neater beak

Unmarked lower back and exhibited tendency to 'fluff up' when held

Undertail coverts barely marked with no strong marking on longest
covert as in Mealy Redpoll

A Kestrel turned out to be the guilty party when a retrapped Robin was killed in the net.

1k female Kestrel

Ringing Totals:  245 (13)

Tårnfalk / Kestrel - 1
Jernspurv / Dunnock - 1
Rødhals / Robin – 0 (6)
Solsort / Blackbird – 1

Munk / Blackcap - 1
Blåmejse / Blue Tit - 8
Musvit / Great Tit – 0 (1)
Skovspurv / Tree Sparow - 3
Bogfinke / Chaffinch - 2
Grønirisk / Greenfinch - 1
Grønsisken / Siskin - 7
Stor Gråsisken / Mealy Redpoll – 206
Lille Gråsisken / Lesser Redpoll – 12
Hvidsisken / Arctic Redpoll - 1
Stor Dompap / Northern Bullfinch – 0 (1)
Lille Dompap / Western Bullfinch – 1 (2)

15th November

The last day of the ringing season and we end on a respectable 46 new. Again, leading species was Mealy Redpoll, 18 of which over half came to tapes in the afternoon. There was also a small party of tits comprising 13 new Blue tits, two Coal tits and another Swedish control Blue Tit.

1k male Coal Tit (Sortmejse)

Tomorrow we will be able to tape throughout the morning and plan to try for thrushes and Redpoll from first thing. We'll see how that goes.

In the meantime the quiet rounds have given me chance to appreciate the site as autumn rapidly advances towards winter.

Less leaves equals more lighthouse

The trees look like this, but still leaves end up in the nets

Autumn bramble

Alder, the Redpolls' favourite

RingingTotals: 46 (10)

Engpiber / Meadow Pipit - 3
Rødhals / Robin – 0 (1)
Solsort / Blackbird – 2 (4)

Sortmejse / Coal Tit - 2
Blåmejse / Blue Tit - 13 (3 including a Swedish control)
Grønsisken / Siskin - 2
Gråsisken / Common Redpoll - 1
Stor Gråsisken / Mealy Redpoll – 18
Lille Gråsisken / Lesser Redpoll – 2
Dompap / Eurasian Bullfinch - 2 (1)
Stor Dompap / Northern Bullfinch - 1 (1)

16th November

We were able to use tapes this morning as standard has now finished. It was very windy, with a clear bright sky. Needless to say catching was poor as birds prefer to get on with migrating in these conditions. Playing Fiedfare was a total of a failure, Redwing produced just one bird and Redpoll produced only 34 birds from the start and end of the day.

A late Blackcap was, well late!

Ringing totals: 38 (3)

Rødhals / Robin – 1 (1)
Solsort / Blackbird - 1
Vindrossel / Redwing - 1
Munk / Blackcap - 1
Blåmejse / Blue Tit - 0 (1)
Musvit / Great Tit - 0 (1)
Stor Gråsisken / Mealy Redpoll – 30
Lille Gråsisken / Lesser Redpoll – 4

The afternoon was spent birding around the lakes at Lolland.

Smew, Goldeneye and Red-crested Pochard 
were all seenat this location.

Great White Egret record shot

Marsh Tit regularly visit the table to be fed.

European Nuthatch

We have processed over 1200 Goldcrest in the past six weeks, 
but apparently there are still some left in Denmark

17th November

Our last full ringing day at Gedser and birds continued to make their way south. There were quite a few Redpolls around today with 71 Mealys captured and a Belgian ringed 2k+ male.

15378075 (BRUSSELS)

We also identified our third Arctic Redpoll of our spell here.

Arctic Redpoll

Here the two birds show differences between bill and eye structure

Hans had a group at the tip for the morning and they came to see these two birds in addition to a Redwing, Greenfinch and Meadow Pipit.

Ringing totals: 106 (5)

Engpiber / Meadow Pipit - 12
Gærdesmutte / Wren – 1
Rødhals / Robin – 2
Solsort / Blackbird - 3
Vindrossel / Redwing - 1
Munk / Blackcap - 0 (1)
Halemejse / Northen Long-tailed Tit - 7
Blåmejse / Blue Tit - 0 (1)
Grønirisk / Greenfinch - 2
Stor Gråsisken / Mealy Redpoll – 71 (1 control Brussels)
Lille Gråsisken / Lesser Redpoll – 5
Hvidsisken / Arctic Redpoll - 1
Dompap / Eurasian Bullfinch - 0 (1)
Stor Dompap / Northern Bullfinch - 1 (1)

18th November

Our final chance to ring although we have a ferry to catch and need to leave by noon. There is also the small matter of packing and leaving the house tidy. Limiting ourselves to 6 nets we tried Meadow Pipit ( and Lapland Bunting, you need a bit of imagination sometimes) on one group with Redpoll on the other. We took an initial catch and were processing those birds when we noticed another flock of 60 or so birds. We couldn't take the chance of having too many to process in a short time so turned off the tape, closed the two empty nets and extracted what was already there. Within another 15 minutes or so the flock had increased to closer to 200. It was cloudy and birds were chosing to stay rather than push on across the Baltic. It would have been a good catching opportunity if we'd had the whole day.

Totals: 72

Engpiber / Meadow Pipit - 2
Rødhals / Robin – 1
Bogfinke / Chaffinch - 1
Stor Gråsisken / Mealy Redpoll – 59
Lille Gråsisken / Lesser Redpoll – 9

So comes to an end our autumn at Gedser. It was quite different to 2015, no huge number of Goldcrest, although it was a Blue Tit year the 282 on one day wasn't so bad and the small parties of 15 to 20 birds that wandered through ever so often were what helped keep the figures at a reasonable level on quite a few days. It was nice to finish with the Redpolls - three Arctics were very good in a total of less that 1000 birds over October and November. I definitely know what to look for to identify these birds, and find the cline of Mealy through to Lesser equally interesting.

If we were to go again we might try August/September but not for more than a couple of weeks as there is a lot of disturbance with so many beds in the loft and very early starts - perhaps we're beginning to get a bit old for communal living.

To summarise, Gedser is known for large numbers of certain species in the autumn. Robin and Goldcrest in September/October and Redpolls later with ocassional years when Blue Tits move through in high numbers. The rarities are more common in spring, although we captured a Red-flanked Bluetail there in 2015 (and it arrived on a high volume day for Robins).

We were very aware that we could get a busy day, later than usual, as numbers were down earlier in the year. As it turned out there were not extremely high numbers of Goldcrest although they did move through until later in November than usual. Robins were definitely down in numbers while Redpoll numbers were well below that of the bumper numbers in 2017.
  • Robin Oct 595, Nov 48
  • Goldcrest Oct 762, Nov 521
  • Blue Tit Oct 780, Nov 80 (maximum 282 in a day)
  • Mealy Redpoll Oct 1, Nov 776
  • Lesser Redpoll Oct 7, Nov 98
  • Arctic Redpoll Oct 0, Nov 3
Other species that pass through in decent numbers in October and November were Wren 138/27, Dunnock 87/6 (with 206 already processed in September).