Monday, 15 May 2017

Ringing at Strait of Gibraltar Bird Observatory

News from the Teifi soon, but first a summary of a week spent ringing in Gibraltar by three of the group. Because of its location on a key migration route, the Rock of Gibraltar has long been a recording site for the migration of raptors, sea birds, passerines and near-passerines. Ringing has been an increasing part of that recording effort since 1991.

Morocco and the short sea crossing for migrants viewed from one of our nets
Ringing is done at the Jews Gate Bird Observatory on the Upper Rock Nature reserve. Visiting ringers are made very welcome by the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society.

As well as being the ringing base, Jews Gate is also the location for raptor migration counting. We learned a lot from the raptor-counters about identifying fly-over raptors. On one day, for example, the counts were Honey Buzzard 69, Black Kite 1572, Griffon Vultures 19, Egyptian Vulture 2, Short-toed Eagle 10, Marsh Harrier 6, Booted Eagle 21, Sparrowhawk 46, Kestrel 2, and Hobby 5.

A Booted Eagle (photo Andrew Hughes)

Most days we were opening 16 nets in Mediterranean matorral (scrub) of mostly Olive and Lentisc.
Rather nice views from the nets...

...some of which are quite steep:

In 8 days we processed 382 birds of 38 species. The most frequently caught birds were Willow Warbler (100), Garden Warbler (44), Pied Flycatcher (28) and Melodious Warbler (19). We had a fall of birds on the day following a day of exceptional rain (146mm), during which we caught 180 birds.

The most unexpected species was Icterine Warbler.  We caught two - the first ringed on Gibraltar  since one day in 2006 when four were ringed.

The overall size and the long wing of this species were immediately noticeable in the hand when compared with the smaller but otherwise similar Melodious Warbler.

The Scops Owl is a species caught in good numbers during Autumn migration, just one for us while catching Nightjars

Red-necked Nightjar, 6 were ringed...

... as well as four European Nightjar. Other species included:

Turtle Dove

Golden Oriole

Sub-alpine Warbler

Woodchat Shrike


Western Orphean Warbler

... and one of the residents:

Sardinian Warbler

We learned a lot during a very enjoyable week. Many thanks to Steve Norman (resident ringer), Charles Perez (GOHNS) and to Jill Yeoman for the welcome and importantly in a land of very steep hills, the lift to Morrisons.

Strait of Gibraltar Bird Observatory
Recent records from GOHNS

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