30 January 2012

Last weeks best

Last week was very quiet except for the Barn Swallow ronging, over the last weekend I ringed 99 Barn Swallows making the seasons total so far 595 birds.

While I was catching swallows on Thursday evening the nets were being packed away and 2 stragler birds flew into the already closed nets, they were no Swallows but Little Bee-eaters, one of the most attractive birds on the Umzumbe Floodplain.
Little Bee-eater

A close up of the Little Bee-eater

I also went to investigate a Crowned Eagle nest in Hibberdene where I found the chick to be excercising his wings in anticipation of flying for the first time.

young African Crowned Eagle - I hate the tree though

15 January 2012

Ringing on Umzumbe Floodplain 15.01.2012

What a great day for ringing, cloud cover and no wind giving a great oportunity to catch some more Warblers and hopefully give some of the new visitors to the ringing sessions a chance to learn more about them. While we were erecting the nets the Eurasian Hobby was busy trying to catch the Swallows and Swifts that were already feeding just after 4.30am.
One of the first birds was the Great Reed Warbler, in fact 4 of them were caught throughout the morning. These Warblers are easy to identify on their size alone, although one person was totally confused as he thought it was a Terrestrial Brownbul, (he knew we had removed one from the net). Some of the other early birds were Yellow Weavers, African Reed Warblers, Redshouldered Widows etc.
male Yellow Weaver

Along with the birds that we would expect to catch in this area there was a male Red Bishop, a bird that has only arrived in this spot in the last few years.
male Red Bishop

Some of the other warblers included African Reed Warbler formerly known as African Marsh Warbler, also Lesser Swamp Warbler (Cape Reed Warbler) these are both common species in this habitat and totally expected.
Lesser Swamp Warbler
The best Warblers caught were 2 European Marsh Warblers, a lifer for the visitors as these birds connot be identified through binocs in Southern Africa as they are so similar to the european Reed Warbler which is uncommon and the African Reed Warbler which is very common. In the hand they are quite easy to sort out, the wing length on the African Reed Warbler is less thatn 60mm while they European Reed and Marsh are greater than 60mm. When it comes to the two European Warblers the Walinder Score comes into effect and the calculators come out to do the calculation.
european Marsh Warbler
One of the common birds that we catch here is the Rufouswinged Cisticola, and today we caught an immature which for some reason we don't get too many of, the lemon yellow belly and the yellow gape are easily seen, especially the gape contrasting with the black inside the mouth.
immature Rufouswinged Cisticola

To me one of the best birds was the final bird caught, although common in summer we don't catch many in this area unlike the ringers in Gauteng. The Diederik Cuckoo flew into the nets just as I thought it was time to take down the nets.
male Diederik Cuckoo

I want to go and terrorize the Weavers