17th Nov. At dinner of the 16th we had an unexpected visitor to the waterhole… the Leopard had come and gone and enjoyed his starter of a leg of goat and the Porcupine had also enjoyed their bread rolls… but then without warning a huge bull elephant rocked up at the waterhole and wandered around a bit, drank some water and then ambled off towards the raptor nets – though he missed them and went off into the bush. Just a reminder that anything can turn up while we are out at the nets…!
However once again there was no mist to speak of in the night, just low cloud that never came down. Tape recordings of the song of the three common Ngulia species were played from 3am in an attempt to encourage some birds down into the catching area and with some lowish cloud around, nets were put up with the vague hope of the low cloud producing birds… which it did just after going up in the form of a real quality bird, an Isabelline Wheatear – the first this year and only the second since 2005. We kept the nets up despite the lack of any real mist and ended up with 20 birds ringed – all others being Thrush Nightingales except for one Marsh Warbler. At dawn (yet again stunning views…) all the ‘bush’ nets were opened but we only managed another 12 migrants giving a grand total of 32 for the day:
Isabelline Wheatear: 1
Thrush Nightingale: 28
Marsh Warbler: 2
Common Whitethroat: 1
The Afrotropicals were more interesting with the 11th ever Green-backed Twinspot ringed (in 44 years), a stunning Diederik Cuckoo with molten bronze colours melting into the stunning deep emerald of its plumage, and then a pair of Rufous Chatterers with their gorgeous light yellow eyes and curiously curved bill. A retrapped Black-backed Puffback and Green-winged Pytilia both from previous years were of real interest to me since you can therefore know for certain that their plumage and soft part colours are those of a definite adult – which really helps when trying to correctly age a new one you might catch.