Day 2 of 2012 season and the mist only came in at around 3:30am giving us just 1 1/2 hours of birds coming in – but whilst the mist seemed quite good once again, the comparative number of birds was very few. However by the time we closed nets at 5:15am we had caught 123 birds of which 88% were Thrush Nightingales (Sprossers) whilst only 4 birds were Marsh Warblers which normally are the most numerous – though we’re still early in the season for the large numbers of these. We also had our first Spotted Flycatcher (5 birds), Willow Warbler (1), Common Rock Thrush (1), Upcher’s Warbler (1) and the Barn Swallows have arrived though we only caught 38 by lunch time even with the tape lure going.
From recent analysis of the data over the past 43 years, it has become clear that there has been a real drop in the numbers of certain species passing through Ngulia – Common Whitethroat used to form about 35% of the catch… but now is less than 10%; Upcher’s Warbler has also dropped as has Isabelline Shrike (which, by the way, we caught one bird today – a beaut of an adult male of the stunning phoenicuroides race from as far east as Mongolia). This sort of bird ringing that manages to catch large numbers of birds and is repeated annually can really give some critical insights to the status of populations of birds even the other side of the world.
Afrotropical birds today were also more varied and numerous – highlights being two Green-backed Twinspots (10th & 11th ringed at Ngulia), a Black Cuckoo (only the 4th), two retrap woodpeckers (Nubian and Cardinal), two very fierce Grey-headed Bush-shrikes (14th & 15th) and a Northern White-crowned Shrike. The most striking and stunning bird of all, however was the African Green Pigeon – I mean… what a stunner – God had a lot of fun designing this one!:
The leopard has come already tonight, though the sky is still clear and the stars all showing beautifully (or horribly if you’re an Ngulia ringer waiting for mist…!). We’ll see what the night has for us. Time to sleep…