Finally a misty night and 1,000s of birds

19th Nov. It has happened at LAST!! After wondering if we’d ever get the mist which is so necessary at Ngulia to bring in the birds, it was looking potentially good at dusk (but then it often does..!) and sure enough I was woken by Hamisi, the night watchman who has really got into the ringing (understandable, as a night watchman job is surely not the most stimulating of tasks!) at 11:55pm saying there was mist! Sure enough, it was rolling in thick and beautifully and birds were popping out of the sky.

 The mist with birds being extracted from nets

 some of the 1,000s of moths attracted to the lights

Andrew and I put up the two nets and immediately we were catching birds, mostly Thrush Nightingales but also a River Warbler and others and it was quickly clear that we needed the rest of the team up to assist. So it was all hands on deck and some frenetic extraction of birds and setting up the table with the night lights to get the ringing going. Mist turned into quite heavy rain at 3:15am and it stayed for an hour or more which was a blessing in disguise as we already had caught over 400 birds and with the one ringing team were being hard-pushed to clear them all.

 Nightwatchman extraordinaire Hamisi watching the night time ringing action

Dawn arrived in still thick mist though the rain had stopped and found us still ploughing through Marsh Warblers and Thrush Nightingales with a great smattering of Olive-tree Warblers, Rufous Bush Robins, quite a lot of Iranias (also known as White-throated Robins) and a couple of Eurasian Nightjars, another Plain Nightjar and towards the end of the catching, a dazzler of a Donaldson-Smith’s Nightjar – tiny and bright rufous with gorgeous white, black and brown spots.

Surprisingly, the bush nets were not nearly as busy as we’d thought they’d be – though the birds were there but just not moving out so much. However it was still plenty busy enough and by the end of the morning we’d caught and ringed just short of 1,400 birds… and there were swallows around in good numbers – so it was up with the swallow nets and one other one in the bush which was still heaving with migrants for a couple of hours of more trapping after lunch resulting in another 80 or so birds. Total for the day: 1,470 migrants and 26 Afrotropical birds!!

Other stars of the day were no less than five Golden Pipits – the brilliantly golden male being the most startling. Also Jacobin Cuckoo and a couple of Basra Reed Warblers.

 Stunning male Golden Pipit


By the time we were done with the swallows we were all totally ‘done’ and it was time to get a couple of hours sleep ready for the next night which promised to be good as well…


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One Comment

  1. Kerry Leonard
    Posted November 22, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Well I have seen Golden Pipit in the field but that is just such a bonkers colour! Most of the big moths at Ngulia are Convolvulus Hawk but you get Striped, Silver Striped and occasional Oleander Hawk (massive green Hawk, the markings of which make it look like it has a face). Great news, well done.

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