Sunday 26 May 2013

Trap Happy

25th May
What a day. Beautiful, sunny weather and plenty of birds. After a pretty poor spring for the weather, today was calm, sunny and reached 10.7 degrees (although it felt much warmer!). The birds were impressive as well, with morning traps providing us with two Red-backed Shrikes in the hand before breakfast (then a third mist-netted at the Obs), a good start! A flock of six Tree Sparrows then dropped into the Obs garden whilst the shrikes were being ringed (with one of them dropping into the mist net), the first record for the year.

Male Red-backed Shrike, a great little bird.
So we headed off onto census with high hopes, which were quickly met with a female Subalpine Warbler trapped in the Gully. Biometrics suggested the bird was an albistriata, so hopefully DNA analysis will back up the identification as an Eastern bird. The same run of the traps also produced a superb male Bluethroat, a Ring Ouzel (one of seven seen today) and a Common Redpoll, along with a variety of warblers.
The female Subalp in the Gully shortly before capture (I didn't get any pictures in the hand, but I'll borrow someone else's to post tomorrow).
This ringed male Bluethroat at Lower Stoneybrek in the afternoon was presumably the bird caught earlier in the Vaadal.
Although the rest of the day didn’t produce huge numbers of migrants, there were certainly plenty of things to see, with the most obvious migrants being Red-backed Shrikes that increased to seven (including four males), a small increase in warblers (with Lesser Whitethroats reaching 20) and passage of hirundines including 77 Swallows (and the day felt like a Red-rumped Swallow day, but sadly it wasn’t to be).

Assessing Red-backed Shrike numbers is not always easy as they can be rather mobile as they follow fencelines around the island, so the seven counted may have been an underestimate.
Other sightings included a briefly seen female Stonechat, Short-eared Owl, four Collared Dove, and three Robins, with flyovers including Barnacle Goose and Red-throated Diver. Perhaps the most surprising was the increase in Snow Buntings to 47, an unseasonal gathering.
Although Redwings in May are not unusual, this one was in full song at Stackhoull, which is less expected.
The traps had the final say in the day’s good birds, when a Marsh Warbler was caught in the Plantation, making the ringing room a popular destination today.
Sunshine, good company and good birds ensured today was thoroughly enjoyable, and whilst we may lose the sun (and gain a stronger wind) over the next couple of days, we’ll hopefully gain more birds. Late May is the time when migrants can include ‘the biggy’, so we’ll see what tomorrow produces…
A great way to end the day. Grace and I went to watch the Puffins on Roskillie after Log and spent an hour or so in their company.

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