Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 19

Juvenile Lesser Whitethroat
Juvenile male Pied Flycatcher (reasonably far along with post-juvenile moult)

This morning we ventured to Ässön to try and catch some migrants. It was a very slow start, with the only things keeping us awake were passing over Common Terns with several Arctic mixed in. There also appeared to be a decent Black-headed Gull passage.
At 06.30, the migrants 'switched on' and 41 new birds were soon caught.

Totals for the morning:
Reed Warbler - 8
Sedge Warbler - 9
Willow Warbler - 3
Blackcap - 1
Garden Warbler - 1
Lesser Whitethroat - 1
Pied Flycatcher - 1
Blue Tit - 1
White Wagtail - 5
Robin - 1
Reed Bunting - 8

Hope for the weather to improve slightly as it's now raining, so I can add to today's blog post.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 18

2cy Curlew Sandpiper
2cy Knot
Juvenile Common Snipe
Last night we went back to Hammarmaden for a 4th night in a row as the weather was even better! This showed in the birds we caught with 13 birds being caught in total:
6 Wood Sand
3 Ringed Plover
2 Snipe
1 Curlew Sand
1 Knot
Knot is a scarce bird inland in Sweden so this was a highlight for the Swedish ringers present, but being a member of SCAN wader ringing group, I was much much much more impressed by the stunning Curlew Sandpiper that is up there with the highlights of the trip.
Juvenile Great Reed Warbler
Little and Large
Juvenile male Bearded Tit.
This mornings CES took place at Vallen but was cut short due to increasing wind. Totals for the day were 47 new birds with my first ever juvenile Great Reed Warbler which was a retrap ringed on a nest about 10km away at the other side of the reserve (it's a big reserve!). Juvenile Penduline Tit and juvenile Bearded Tit is still exciting as these are such charismatic birds!
Totals for the day (recaps in brackets)
Reed Warbler - 16 (2)
Sedge Warbler 9 (1)
Willow Warbler - 6
Great Reed Warbler - (1)
Whitethroat - 1
Garden Warbler - 1
Bearded Tit - 1
Penduline Tit - 1
Blue Tit - 4
Great Tit - 1 (1)
 Thrush Nightingale - 1 (1)

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 17 (16 in reality)

Juvenile female Ruff (Reeve)
Juvenile Female Ruff (Brushane)
Juvenile Wood Sandpiper (Grönbena)
Juvenile Common Sandpiper (Drillsnäppa)
Juvenile Lapwing (Tofsvipa)
Juvenile Starling (Stare)

Technically this is from day 16, but as we didn't head out this morning due to bad weathers and last nights wader catch was so good, I felt it deserved it's own blog post!
We opened the same 7 nets again (moving 3 of them slightly) at around 17.30. Lots of waders about and on the move today with a flock of 9 Curlew Sandpiper, 12 Ringed Plover with a further 2 Curlew Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, 3 Knot and lots of Ruff, Spotted Redshanks, Wood, Green and Common Sandpipers. We were very excited for what we might catch and opening the nets earlier allowed us to experience a different kind of wader mist-netting, rather than in the dark where we struggled to extract, we couldn't see the net and when we caught the birds, we struggled to look at the bird in weak light so we couldn't really enjoy them.
The first two birds we caught were two juvenile Lapwing. The first could only just fly but Craig managed to grab this one as it struggled through the long grassy marsh. The first net round produced a 2nd juvenile Lapwing and 2 juvenile Common Sandpipers. The 2nd round was by far the best, with a Common Sandpipier, 2 Wood Sandpiper and a juvenile female Ruff!
The Ruff was a truly stunning bird and much bigger than I was expecting! I was thinking they would be a similar size to Redshank, but they are really stocky birds like a cross between a Blackbird and Chicken! The bird was sexed as a female based on wing-length, bill length and tarsus.

The final round produced 5 non-passerines in the form of juvenile Starlings. It was only 10pm so we would have loved to stay out for longer, but one of the reasons for the decent wader passage was intermittent thunder storms throughout the day. We happened to find a clear spell for the ringing, but the lighting was getting closer on the final net-round so we made the executive decision of taking down the nets.

A fantastic evening's wader ringing!

Day 17 - went to Hammarmaden with Jasper as it's his last day and there was a large increase in waders from yesterday with Little Stint, Grey Plover, 10 Curlew Sandpiper, 9 Ruff, 3 Knot, 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 16 Dunlin, 9 Ringed Plover, 5 Greenshank and the usual plethora of Wood Sand, Green Sand, Common Sand, Lapwing and Snipe. I think we will be stupid if we don't go back tonight to improve the wader todays for Kvismaren 2012

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 16

Juvenile Wood Sandpiper
After a long hard day of ringing on Friday, it would have been very nice to have an early night ready for CES the next morning. That would be in a normal persons life...this is a bird-ringers life! We went back to Hammarmaden to open the 7 wader nets and set out to catch some waders. It wasn't until 01.00 when Craig went for a net round and came back with 3 waders to ring. A juvenile Snipe and my personal wader-ringing highlight which were 2 juvenile Wood Sandpipers. Fantastic birds with beautiful speckling on their mantles and a really nice tail pattern. 
Juvenile Snipe (note very fresh plumage, especially the tertials)
A very small Willow Warbler that looked very much like a Chiffchaff in the hand. Wing-formula was completely Willow however. Lots of photos and biometrics were taken of this bird though and a combination of both species' biometrics were evident. I wonder if there could be a hybrid influence?

This morning we arrived at Ässön at dawn setting 18 nets. The catch was very slow however with a south easterly breeze, which isn't very good for the island at all. The birds just don't move in this weather. As a result we only caught 34 birds (including 3 retraps).

Totals (recaps in brackets)
Swallow - 2
White Wagtail 3
Thrush Nightingale - (1)
Reed Warbler - 10 (1)
Sedge Warbler - 2 (1)
Willow Warbler - 4
Blue Tit - 2
Reed Bunting - 8

The weather today is much worse, but looks really good for bringing in waders, so if the wind drops slightly, we will probably be out tonight catching more waders. There are some summer plumage Spotted Redshanks that would make my life if they were to find the nets!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 15

Juvenile Common Sandpiper
Adult female Ringed Plover
Last night we all went out onto Hammarmaden to catch some waders. We set up 7 nets, of which three of them were set up by myself marking my first ever lone wader line set-up. We caught three birds in the evening which included 2 juvenile Common Sandpipers (I ringed 1, Magnus Friberg the other) as well as an adult female Ringed Plover. Three fantastic birds and two new species in the hand for me. We left the site at 01.30 to get some sleep before the 03.00 wake up for CES at Vallen.
Juvenile Savi's Warbler
Juvenile Savi's Warbler
Craig and Heather opted out of CES this morning to complete various tasks that have built up around the observatory, which meant that Jalle, Jasper, Eric (PhD student) and I set up 24 nets at Vallen. There were 4 species that were the undoubted highlights of the morning. The star bird was a juvenile Savi's Warbler which is a lifer for me and an incredible bird to ring! We initially thought it was a River Warbler because of the appearance, but looking at biometrics, it came apparent that this was in fact a Savi's.
Juvenile Common Rosefinch
This Juvenile Common Rosefinch was a real surprise as it came back from a net round extracted by someone who didn't identify it when it was in the net. As a result, I got a real shock when I pulled it out the bag! A superb little bird and only my 2nd ever! A great bird to ring.
Male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
One of the main targets of mine before I came to Sweden was Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, but I really didn't think I was going to get to ring one. When I walked up to Jalle at a net, it took me a while to realise he was holding this fantastic bird! I got the lovely task of ringing the bird and was certainly one of the highlights of my ringing career! An incredible bird!
Juvenile Marsh Warbler
The final highlight species for the day were 2 Marsh Warblers! The first had a wing of 74mm and the second of 72mm. All biometrics added up to Marsh and compared to Reed in the hand at the same time, it looked like a completely different bird (maybe because it was!) The hind claw was noticeably shorter and paler than Reed as well as the short bill, white chin and greenish fringing of the tertials. The notch on the inside of p9 also fell much lower than the tertials. Again this was one of my main targets to ring whilst in Sweden. This was part of my big 4 which included Great Reed Warbler (we caught 3 new birds today!), Marsh Warbler, Bluethroat and Northern Long-tailed Tit.

A truly fantastic morning's ringing and probably my best days ringing ever! Top quality birds and it was really nice to be left to my own devices and be in charge of a ringing team. Fantastic training!

Totals for the day (additional recaps in brackets)
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker - 1
Savi's Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 28 (6)
Sedge Warbler - 11 (1)
Marsh Warbler - 2
Great Reed Warbler - 3
Willow Warbler - 21 (1)
Garden Warbler -  3 (1)
Blackcap - 2 (1)
Whitethroat - 2
Reed Bunting - 8
Blackbird - 1
Thrush Nightingale - (2)
Common Rosefinch - 1
Greenfinch - 2
Great Tit - 1 (1)
Blue Tit - (1)

Total - 87 (14)

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 14

 Juvenile Swallow
 2CY Sparrowhawk
adult male White Wagtail

Today I witnessed the magic of Ässön which is a thin island that goes across Hjälmaren (the 4th largest body of water in Sweden). This small island is a fantastic trap for migrants as they filter south, so we set up for 4am and by 08.30, the migrants had all moved through. We caught 115 new birds with highlights being Sparrowhawk, Icterine Warbler, Great Reed Warbler as well as lots of Swallow, White Wagtail, Willow Warblers and Reed Buntings.

Totals were as follows:
Sparrowhawk - 1
Swallow - 25
White Wagtail - 3
Thrush Nightingale - 2
Blackbird - 2
Wren - 1
Robin - 2
Pied Flycatcher - 2
Blue Tit - 7
Great Tit - 5
Garden Warbler - 1
Icterine Warbler - 1
Reed Warbler - 16
Sedge Warbler - 4
Great Reed Warbler - 1
Willow Warbler - 17
Reed Bunting - 25

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 13

(presumed 3CY) Black Kite

Last night, Craig, Jalle, Jasper and I went out to a new wader site and stayed out with 7 nets up until 1am. We didn't catch anything! We came back to get an hours sleep and then head off out to Åsen for some migrant catching at 3am. Craig made the decision that it would be worth catching up on our sleep, so Jalle and I woke up at 9.15 and headed into the garden to do a spot of raptor watching as the sun was very strong and there was a light wind. It wasn't too long before we caught sight of a silhouette of a distant bird that looked like a cross between a Marsh Harrier and Osprey in heavy moult. I got Jalle onto the bird and it was soon evident we were looking at a Black Kite. It was getting closer so I ran inside and shouted Craig to get him onto the bird. As the bird got closer, I could see it was going to go right over the field 'next door'. I ran to there and managed to get lots of photos as it flew low overhead.
We have come to the conclusion that the bird is probably a 3rd calender year bird based on the largely adult plumage with hint of pale flecking on some feathers of the upperwing, tatty tail, orangey-brown eye rather than dark-brown or yellow (not a proven feature yet) and apparent pointed round primary coverts (instead of very round in adults). Comments more than welcome...
In addition to this, I had fantastic views of a Honey Buzzard that briefly flew low over of house coming from behind trees and then 5 seconds later over some more trees. I didn't have chance to get a photo, but it appeared to be an adult female. Stunning bird with very strange appearance with the bright yellow eye.
Ringing today was few and far between catching only 4 birds, but one of these birds was a juvenile male Redstart...stunning! My first Redstart in the hand and a real joy to handle!
Today was very hot indeed and insects were every! This Ruddy Darter was nice.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 12

Juvenile Common Tern
Juvenile Common Tern chilling on the canoe
Monster Blue Tit with a huge wing compared to British standards
'new in' Caspian Tern
Today we did a short session of ringing at Banvallen because it was very windy so we weren't catching very many bird at all. The most exciting bird was a monster Blue Tit and a moulting 2cy male Blackcap...says it all really! The benefit to a slow ringing session was it meant we had a lot of waiting around between net-rounds, so we were able to scan the horizon for migrants. Jalle is 'the man' when it comes to migrants and spotted a summer plumage Black-throated Diver flying SSW which was an 'inland tick' for me. Jalle also spotted 15 Knot flying WSW which was a nice flock as well as 2 Caspian Terns which were 'new in'.

Young Jasper and I went out on a canoe trying to catch Common Tern chicks. We managed to catch two birds which took a hell of a lot of effort, especially the 2nd bird, which was hideously already ringed! I was gutted! These were great little birds though and a real joy to handle. Whilst out ringing these birds, there were 2 Black Terns flying within 5 feet of the canoe! If it had been more stable, I might have tried to catch one...
Evening update: We arrived back from doing some manual labour clearing some net rides to find two White-tailed Eagles (adult and presumed 2CY bird) being mobbed by an Osprey! Amazing sight from our very own garden!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 11

Today is the first day I have not handled a single bird! We woke up to heavy rain and strong wind, with the former dispersing by mid-morning. As a result, we had a well-earned lie in and didn't catch a single bird all day. Instead Jalle, Jasper and I did some vis-mig from the end of our drive. Highlights being: a flock of 12 Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Knot flying south; Short-eared Owl flying surprisingly high and then dropping down behind trees, White-tailed Eagle, 4 Osprey, Tree Pipit and 2 Snipe.

It has been a very slow day, but hopefully the weather will improve overnight so some ringing can be done! If not, then I may try and find something in the field that is worthy of a blog post! Sorry for this awful post!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 10

This morning's CES at Vallen was very slow indeed catching less than 20 birds (retrap Thrush Nightingale, Blackbird, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Great Tit and Marsh Tit) and there wasn't really even a highlight, so I didn't get my camera out once. I was starting to think that I wouldn't have enough 'excitement' to make a valuable blog post. I decided to put up some nets in the garden and managed to catch these two lovely birds.

The nominate race of Nuthatch is a stunning bird, and this adult male must be the pick of the bunch! In England (as many of the ringers reading this will know) it is said that Nuthatch cannot be aged accurately after their post juvenile moult as they look identical to adults. In Sweden however, this is not the case. The inset on the picture below shows the eye colour of this 3rd calender bird as being very rich chestnut. Juvenile birds have a very olive/grey eye, 2CYs have a dark browny-grey eye and then full adults have rich chestnut eyes. The photo below also shows the rich chestnut flanks that identify this as a male, and the fantastic undertail coverts of this species.

The juvenile Treecreeper was ringed yesterday in the garden and we retrapped it again today. This is surprisingly the first Treecreeper to be caught this year at the Obs. Hopefully tomorrow will bring a more exciting blogpost!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 9

 adult Spotted Flycathcer
Juvenile male nominate/northern European Nuthatch

Todays CES took place at Banvallen where we caught about 35 birds in total. Highlights included my first Spotted Flycatchers and 'northern' Nuthatch which were both real treats to hold. Other species caught were Kestrel (the same bird as the Sand Martin colony bird), Fieldfare, Pied Flycathcer, Blackbird, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler, Great Tit, Blue Tit and Chaffinch.

Non-avian highlights came in the form of the 2nd record of Little Tern at Kvismaren, and the first since 1968! This was flying around the lake all day and for a short period of time sat on the same patch of mud as a Caspain Tern! Not the greatest photo in the world, but it's nice to see how variable tern species in europe can be! A lovely bird, and my first since 2007...which is quite depressing to say the least.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Kvismare fågelstation, Sweden - Day 8

 Sunrise at 04.10 this morning
 My first adult Thrush Nightingale (in very heavy tail moult!)
 Adult male Yellow Wagtail
 Juvenile Yellow Wagtail
 Juvenile female and male Bearded Tit (male has orange bill)
 Juvenile male Bearded Tit
 satelite tagged/colour-ringed Great Reed Warbler
Three completely unrelated juvenile tit species in one net!

This morning was by far the most intensive CES ringing sessions because of one species - Bearded Tits. In two net rounds, we caught 27 (inc.1 retrap) juveniles! It was insane as you were extracting birds whilst more flew into the net over your shoulder. This was one of two new handling species during the day. The other was (Blue-headed/flava)Yellow Wagtail. A stunning adult male and, personally, an even more stunning juvenile! I was amazed at how bright it was with all the white wing bars.
We caught over 90 new birds today with other birds caught in the form of: Penduline Tit, Great Reed Warbler (a satelite tagged bird ringed on site), Thrush Nightingale, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Reed Buntng, Yellowhammer, Greenfinch, Reed Warbler (inc. Brussels ringed control), Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Goldfinch, Garden Warbler, Blackcap.