Following the arrival of a nice new set of six spring traps for the Observatory, Mick Briggs decided to field test them at the Field Station today. Results were not great with only one Wheatear present which quickly cleared off and no sign of the Black Redstart that had been present all week untill Thursday Night! There was the Stonechat present since Tuesday but it was unfortunately in the middle of the Old Saltmarsh all morning. Luckily though after a couple of hours hoping that the 2 Field Station Pied Wagtails would drop down into a Spring Trap, a couple of "super fine" male Wheatears dropped onto the Field Station Wall, overlooking the Spring Traps and within a minute one of the Wheatears dropped off the wall straight onto the trap and was bagged thirty seconds later!
George mean while was over at the Observatory for a couple of hours and was rewarded with just 7 birds processed including 3 New birds and 4 Retraps including 1 Foreign Control.
The days combined catch was made up thus (New/Retrap) - (0/2) Wren, (0/1) Dunnock, (1/0) Wheatear, (1/0) Whitethroat, (0/1) Willow Warbler and (2/0) Linnet.
The Whitethroat was the first one of the year, six days earlier than the first one ringed last year (22nd Apr) and a full ten days earlier than 2009 (26th Apr). Indeed having just spent half an hour trawling through all available records of Whitethroat on IPMR for GPBO, of which there are 9366 on the database although we have actually ringed 10,158 (Most Records pre 1960 still not in due to technical issues).
I have found that todays Whitethroat was actually the second earliest on record for the Obs with the earliest ever being a bird ringed on the 15th April 1979 although during that year, another Whitethroat wasn't caught untill the 9th May! Indeed upon checking the data I found that in the majority of years we don't actually catch a Whitethroat usually untill the first week of May and it is only in the last ten years or so that we can reasonably "Expect" to catch the first Whitethroat during the last two weeks of April.
Todays bird is only 1 day later than the earliest on record for the Obs, so well done George!
However todays best bird was a real star! our second Foreign Control of 2011. George extracted on his first net round, a Spanish Ringed Willow Warbler!!!! - ESI. KX2194. This is actually our first Willow Warbler from Spain although we have had one of our birds found dead in Spain back in 1982. Indeed the only other foreign ringed Willow Warbler we have had is a bird back in 1984 from Belgium.
Now I know that plenty of people read this Blog but I wouldn't think that many people in Spain are reading the blog, but as usual, if you are responsible for this bird and know of it's origins in Spain, please let us know by emailing me (Mick Briggs) at firstname.lastname@example.org preferably in English please!
All in all, a jolly good day for the Observatory, not too many birds but stacks of quality!
Hopefully more of the same real soon.
Also reported on the reserve today were -
x1 Spoonbill (North at 19.20)
x1 Hen Harrier (Ringtail)
x1 Marsh Harrier (East)
x1 Buzzard (East)
x1 Short Eared Owl
x1 Barn Owl
x1 Common Sandpiper (Harveys Hide)
x2 Little Ringed Plover
x9 Black Tailed Godwit (Harveys Hide)
x30 Snipe (south)
x2 Mediteranean Gull
x3 Wheatear (Field Station)
x2 Yellow Wagtail (Croft Marsh)
x1 Stonechat (Male)
x2 Sand Martin (South)
x1 Ring Ouzel
x4 Redwing (South)
x13 Crossbill (10 South and 3 in beach car park pines)
x2 Grasshopper Warbler
x2 Sedge Warbler
x1 Reed Warbler
x5 Willow Warbler
x26 Shorelark (On saltings North of North Building per Kev Wilson)