Tag Archives: Bird Ringing

John Gitiri – volunteering with A Rocha Kenya

My name is John Gitiri and my home is the Kinangop plateau in central Kenya and I am currently an intern with the Ornithology Section of the National Museums of Kenya. I have always developed my interest in conservation and in particular I have focused in learning more about birds and wetlands areas.

A Rocha Kenya is a Christian organisation which has been involved with conservation for more than decade in Kenya with its offices in Watamu on the north Kenya coast. I was introduced to ARK through Nature Kenya’s coast manager, Francis Kagema, based at Gede Ruins in October 2011, which after a few weeks they accepted me as an intern and I stayed until April 2012.

I found my internship to be very worthwhile – particularly since I had not much not to do by then. My stay at Mwamba was helpful and wonderful and included activities ranging from Bible study, fieldwork, office work and other volunteer tasks – I liked it!

My goals while interning with ARK were to learn more about birds as a major tool of conservation as well as improve my interaction with different people from different cultures and from different parts of the world – and most of all to grow in my Christian life.

Experience with a well-known Kenyan scientist/ ringer, Colin Jackson, as well as with other experienced ARK staff, volunteers and guests opened mental and physical doors for me. It expanded my knowledge in different working fields.

…me with an Emerald-spotted Wood Dove on my shoulder after it has been ringed

While volunteering I developed a strong interest in bird ringing after watching CJ ring and after sometime he started teaching me more about it.  After getting some ringing exposure at Mwamba, I was blessed to get a sponsorship to do the Introductory Bird Ringing Course that was being run at Mwamba with CJ after my internship ended. With the completion of my internship, I had some time to go back home to the Kinangop and do a couple of things with the conservation site support group back at home (Friends of Kinangop Plateau) before I got another internship opportunity with National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi.

The group of trainee ringers (I’m at the front next to Andrew) in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest on one of the drier days.

At the Nairobi Museum I am involved with bird ringing every Tuesday morning with the Nairobi Ringing Group and I had heard about the annual ringing of thousands of migrants at Ngulia in Tsavo West National Park and I thought of  requesting for a chance to participate and contribute where I could. Through A Rocha Kenya / National Museums of Kenya I got the chance which was very educational and I learnt more about migration as well as meeting with famous author/ ringer David. J. Pearson author of Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania. I am looking forward to do a lot more ringing in future!! I sincerely appreciate ARK for their endless support and following how am doing from what I gained from them. If you have a chance to volunteer with ARK, from my experience, I recommend it’s worth it.

Ecstatic excitement around the ringing table at 4:30am at Ngulia over a small, dull ring

20th Nov. After the couple of hours sleep in the afternoon yesterday, the weather was hazy and the breeze was from the valley and after dinner the sky was overcast and it really felt like the mist was coming in soon. I had to organise a few things so didn’t get to bed till just before 10pm and was in a very deep sleep when the door was knocked and it was Hamisi at just 10:45pm saying the mist had come!! Sure enough it had – but was still not fully down and the moon was still up until midnight and I knew the birds would not be many while there was still moonlight so told him I’d sleep until then. Apparently the generators were switched off at midnight to change the oil and he then came to wake me at 00:20am only for me not to appear and he came and thoroughly woke me (!) at 00:45am at which point there was thick mist rolling in and it was definitely time to get the nets up. Once again the whole team were aroused and we caught steadily with the two nets until finally closing them at 04:15am to give us time to clear the birds we’d caught by dawn.

We set up two tables of ringers and were hammering through them – great diversity with Barred Warblers, Olive-tree Warbler, Iranias, many more Spotted Flycatchers, Willow Warblers, River Warblers etc… I was ringing with Andrew and Malcolm with Alex as scribe and it was about 04:30am that Andrew pulled a Thrush Nightingale out of the bag, was about to put a ring on its left leg and saw it already had one!!! Not only that but it was DULL – always an exciting moment as it isn’t going to be one of your recently ringed birds that has found its way back into the net – and not only that but it said “TBILISI (GE)” on it!!! Yes – a Thrush Nightingale ringed in Georgia (just south of Russia)!!! Our first ever ringed bird from Georgia and a huge exciting moment!! We will write and find out where and when it was ringed, but it was a first year bird going by the plumage so it must have been ringed this year – there will be some Georgian ringer who will be WELL stoked to have his/her bird caught in Kenya!

 The TBILISI ring…

 …showing the (GE) section

 The whole Tbilisi bird – amazing things this bird has seen in its short life!

Dawn was thick with fog and we opened nets not being able to hardly see the end of them – but again the birds just sat still and it wasn’t really ever majorly hectic in terms of numbers of birds in nets. Perhaps with the more open habitat, they don’t move as quickly out of the thicker bush just behind the lights?? We had further highlights in the morning including the first retrap (a bird we have ringed ourselves) migrant from a previous year – a Common Whitethroat – and then in terms of species a beaut of a small Gambaga Flycatcher, an Afrotropical species which appears to migrate as there have been a few caught at Ngulia in the night (this will be the 10th) but for which there is still very little known about it, and a couple of Upcher’s Warblers – a specied from southern central Asia which has really decreased in numbers over the years. Right towards the end of the morning Andrew was doing an awesome job keeping track of the nets and extracting a load of shrikes (very painful to get out of the net as they can seriously draw blood!)…

 A stunning Red-backed Shrike taking Richards fingers apart – that is blood you can see on his finger… 

…when two cuckoos flew into the nets – another Jacobin but then also a smaller, heavily barred cuckoo – an Asian Lesser Cuckoo and a lovely bird at that! Kane ringed that one and Chris (both from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, UK) ringed the Jacobin Cuckoo just before they left to head back to what they’d heard was snow and freezing temperatures back home. We’re down by two ringers therefore which will be a challenge – but David Gitau from the Nairobi Ringing Group is coming tomorrow so that will be a real help.

 Asian Lesser Cuckoo- with a beautiful underwing pattern

Final total for the day… 1,075 migrants and 9 Afrotropical birds – but the moment of the season has to be that one at 4:30am when Andrew produced the Georgian Thrush Nightingale – a real ‘HALLELUJAH!’ moment and the first in three years in fact.

Well Andrew and Alex leave tomorrow and I was to leave but am staying on til the end now – but my computer has been broken for about 3-4 weeks now and only operates in Safe Mode (we just don’t have computer technicians around Watamu who are good enough to deal with major issues… and I’ve not been able to get it to someone who does) which means I don’t have internet access so this will be the last blog before I get back to Watamu at the weekend. So more updates at that point but it’s looking good again tonight and the leopard has had his meat and a Spotted Hyena has just come to the waterhole and wandered off through the net rides – so it’s all looking good again!


Ngulia Safari Lodge as awesome a ringing site as ever

18th Nov. The night started off with a bit of a drama: the main generator for the lodge had broken down and the support machine could not run all night and the news was it was going to be switched off between 2am and 4:30am – exactly the hours when we need it on for the lights to work and attract the migrants! However after a discussion with the lodge manager he very kindly agreed that it could be switched off at 10:30pm and back on at 2am.

However despite this… there was a significant lack of mist once again and whilst the askari (night watchman) banged on our door at 4am saying the mist had come down and sure enough it had done… it only stayed down for 10 minutes and then evaporated again leaving our nets standing proud under the starlight and a very vague thought of mist at high altitude. Result? Night total: 7 birds, full day total: 27. There were no swallows to catch either even with the tape running so our final total was exactly that: 27. 12 Thrush NIghtingales, 13 Marsh Warblers and one Whitethroat – the first day, however that Marsh Warbler has ‘beaten’ Thrush Nightingales.

ONce again the Afrotropical species saved the interest of the day with a second African Green Pigeon making Malcolm puff up the hill at high speed to get it out of the net before it escaped, 2 Red-billed Buffalo Weavers with a very powerful bite, the first Vitelline Masked Weavers and a male Nubian Woodpecker.

The Leopard has come already and also the old porcupine has come for his bread rolls once again – hugely bizarre and ridiculous creatures! We’ll see what the night brings us this time!

The quiet season at Ngulia continues & Thrush Nightingales still dominate

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

 Isabelline Wheatear

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.

 A rather grumpy-looking but very smart Rufous Chatterer

Another Accipiter day at Ngulia – the 2nd ever Little Sparrowhawk caught here

16th Nov. A fully ‘dead’ night with no mist and totally clear skies and so no nets put up at night and just the full set of nets opened at dawn. More migrants than yesterday all the same – but still pathetically few: Thrush Nightingale: 9, Common Rock Thrush: 1, River Warbler: 1, Marsh Warbler: 3 and Common Whitethroat: 7. However, once again, things were ‘saved’ from being totally dead by the appearance of a tiny wee raptor in the net – a juvenile Little Sparrowhawk Accipiter minullus with all the fiesty-ness of an accipiter (as Baz found out from the damage it did to his fingers!). This is only the second ever ringed here, the first being in 2005 – and what a stonker of a wee raptor he was! We did do some more swallows and in fact by the end of the day had 115 ringed making a daily total of migrants 136 and the grand total for the season so far: 856.

 Baz’s fingers being punctured by the Little Sparrowhawk

Little else to report other than some more good raptors esp a pair of African Hawk Eagles with one immature bird high over the lodge and, very strangely, an African Fish Eagle – not a lot of fish out here! A female Shikra was hanging around the lodge and netting site but somehow managed to avoid getting trapped and then late afternoon while having a swim a large very dark eagle cruised overhead with very broad wings and a short tail that had to be a Greater Spotted Eagle…

 female Shikra

 part of the 350 nest strong Village Weaver colony by the staff village


A very UNwelcome large guest to Ngulia… and a new species for East African ringing list: Levant Sparrowhawk

So… I left off yesterday with having seen a Eurasian Sparrowhawk (more on this below)… but later that evening after dinner and just as some were heading to bed there was a commotion near the gents toilets from the night watchman and no, it was not one of the ringers causing trouble!, but an enormous Puff Adder creeping along the corner of the wall near the gents! Now what?! Well, thankfully Malcolm Wilson, one of the ringers who’d just arrived and who lives in Johannesburg has done a fair bit of snake handling and he grabbed the wooden ‘spear’ from the model Masai next to the gents and used it to ‘encourage’ the snake out of the lodge. Only problem was it was in no mood to leave and instead resolutely continued onto the patio where all the tourists sit and where we ring at night. Malcolm then managed to hold the head down with the spear and grab the snake behind the head and pick it up… much to the horror of some of the lodge staff – and we walked out behind the lodge and released it in the long grass that side – hoping it would not come around to the ringing site in front of the lodge…

 the not so welcome hotel guest!!

 Malcolm proudly displaying the puffer…

So to today and the ringing: Well… yet again no mist at night – some “high mist” / low cloud at 2:30am which made Niko put the nets up but then a cold westerly wind and stars till dawn – which was stunning as ever but frustratingly bird-less. Total for the night was just 12 Thrush Nightingales and 8 Whitethroats – oh, and another Singing Bush Lark which was the most interesting. The morning total from the 19 nets in the bush for usual Palearctic migrants was even worse – just 2 Thrush Nightingales, 1 Whitethroat and 2 Marsh Warblers making a grand total for the day of:

Thrush Nightingale: 14
Marsh Warbler: 2
Common Whitethroat: 9

!!! (tho we did manage to catch a few Barn Swallows later – 68 – to get a daily total of 94 migrants ringed).

However everything changed at around 8:30am when Dephense came up from the nets carrying a bag to me having my breakfast and said “Scopus says here’s an Accipiter for you”… Gingerly opening the bag I was met by the sight of a small sparrowhawk with its head down so all I could see was its long tail, bright yellow feet and a very heavily spotted underparts and long, pointed wings. Hmmm… juvenile African Goshawk?? but seemed too small and the wings were surely too pointed for that. Malcolm wandered up at that point and he promptly removed the bird (as he wasn’t halfway through a sausage…) and we took another double take – what was it?? M said “Af Gos” – but it had a strong supercilium and a bright yellow cere… and Af Goshawks have grey or murky yellow ceres… So he took it up to the ringing station to check the books while I stuffed the rest of the sausage and great Ngulia breakfast down and hurried after him. “It’s a Levant!!” Malcolm said triumphantly as I got there but there was still some discussion as Levant is NOT a common bird in Kenya (up til a few years ago there had only ever been 6 records though it’s true in recent years for some reason there have been a flurry of observations – suggesting the species is expanding its wintering range southwards perhaps?? Looking through a raptor-in-the-hand guide from Israel where they ring a lot of raptors, there was a photo of a young female Levant that exactly matched the bird we were holding – it just had to be! This is therefore the first Levant Sparrowhawk to be ringed in East Africa and hugely made up for the dire catch of passerine migrants!

 Miss Levant Sparrowhawk

A PS at the end of this is that having seen this bird in the hand I realised that the Euro Sparrowhawk I’d seen yesterday was in fact this very same bird – only I’d not seen the underparts but just the clear supercilium and more pointed wings… An even better record! Furthermore there was another Levant, an adult male, seen during the day around the lodge and a number of other raptors including c.6 Steppe Eagles, a Steppe Buzzard, a Greater Spotted Eagle and a Eurasian Hobby.


Tsavo West shimmering green & news of mist & migrant birds for the 44th year of monitoring at Ngulia

The 2012 season for the Ngulia Bird Migration Project – the 44th since it started in 1969 – has begun! Yesterday I arrived at the lodge in the heart of Tsavo West Nat. Park together with Andrew Kinzer, Silas Ekesa and Niko Gerhard and his niece Samina – Niko looking as much the pirate as ever and full of energy and keen to get nets up. Tsavo is green – and there is sign of recent rain including large pools along the road – though only a surface green with the grey of the dry bush and brown earth through the thin grass still evident. Give it a week and some more rain and this will be gone under a thick carpet of lush vegetation…

 Wet conditions along the road to Ngulia in Tsavo

However en route along the 48kms to the lodge we saw very few migrants – in fact just 1 Eurasian Cuckoo, 1 wheatear (probably Northern) and 1 Red-backed Shrike. None of the swarms of Barn Swallows we are often greeted by, no migrant raptors nor warblers or thrushes flushing out of the bush along the road as we passed…

 Looking up the valley towards Ngulia

It was great to arrive at Ngulia and be welcomed by the “Ngulia Faithful” – the staff who know us well now, several having been at the lodge for over 2 decades. On arrival at the lodge we focussed on important things first which was to get the main nets up before it got dark. All the equipment was perfectly put away by David at the end of last season so it was easy to identify the correct nets and we set to on the ‘L’ in front of the lodge. Due to the lack of bush and vegetation there was next to no cutting and clearing needed which speeded it up and we managed to erect the whole ‘L’ + the single 12m ‘Niko’ net up the slope near the lodge before having to head in as leopard time was nearing. Again few birds of note at this point – other than a flock or two of Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters moving south quite high overhead.

 Looking down the valley from Ngulia – just turning green

 Not a lot of bush in front of the lodge

The Leopard behaved very nicely and came in very soon after the meat was put out for him – and by 7pm was cracking bones and demolishing the goat leg tied up for him just 25m behind Andrew & I who were fixing one of the spot lights on the steps down from the lodge. This meant that after dinner, the 10 or so tourists in the lodge didn’t stay up but headed for bed by 10:30pm leaving the floor clear for us to put nets up when we wanted. There was a thin, high mist by that time and while I went to bed for a couple of hours, Niko, Andrew & Silas put up the 2 night nets at 11pm and started catching a handful of birds – actually, just 10 by midnight and by 00:00hrs the mist cleared completely and stars came out such that at 01:30hrs we packed up and went to bed…

I woke at 03:00hrs to check if there was mist only to find Niko was already up and the nets up! There was good, thick mist and conditions looked perfect – only that the moon was going to be coming out soon which reduces the catch. It wasn’t busy as such, but we caught fairly steadily and by the end of the night we had 126 birds ringed – as well as a Striped Kingfisher (only the 8th ever ringed here and the first since 1984!) and a Singing Bush Lark (16th ringed & first since 2007 – though am trying to ‘turn it into’ a Friedmann’s Lark…!). At dawn we opened the full ‘L’ and caught a few birds though not many until 8am when we closed as it had gone quiet… and by now Niko really needed his sleep! The mist had faded away to a thin high cover at around 4am and so probably a lot of the birds grounded earlier in the night had headed off before dawn and continued their journey south.


 A study of the Ngulia spot light soon after dawn…

On clearing the nets and heading up to the swimming pool area to where we ring during the day, we had a real shock – the small banda / shaded area along the side of the pool has been demolished and a railway siding type shed cover has been built behind where it was over the grass instead. Whilst far from the most beautiful poolside shelter I’ve seen, it actually might work very well for the ringing, particularly in that a) it won’t leak, b) it has a hugely high roof which therefore both lets in lots of light and also provides a better view of the sky to watch for raptors and c) there are no low-lying beams to take unsuspecting ringers heads off… We have yet to experience it in the rain, however, to see just how much rain will come in from the side…

 The new pool side shed

 Niko & Samina cleaning bird bags in front of the shed

 Not bad for raptor watching from inside the shed

Totals for the day therefore stand at the following:

184 Palearctics ringed:

Red-backed Shrike          6

Isabelline Shrike               2

River Warbler                    4

Marsh Warbler                  6

Olive-tree Warbler          1

Barred Warbler                 1

Common Whitethroat   10

Thrush Nightingale          149

Nightingale                         3

Irania                                     1

Rufous Bush Robin          1

…and 12 Afrotropical birds caught including two Plain Nightjars

Once again KWS (Kenya Wildlife Service) have been fantastic in their support of this really important and unique migrant monitoring project and the officers at the gate were very friendly and remembered us from last year and welcomed us in as old friends. We are very grateful to them for the support and hope that a few staff members will be able to drop by to join in the ringing at some point this week.

 Kinzer at breakfast – one of the joys of Ngulia!

First morning of ringing at Gede Ruins for Spotted Ground Thrush

Gede Ruins National Monument is an Important Bird Area (IBA) due to it being a known non-breeding site for the Endangered Spotted Ground Thrush Zoothera guttata. In the early 1990s and before, it was a relatively common species and when I first came to Watamu in 1998 the guides at the ruins talked of having seen it hopping around the offices regularly until 3-4 years previously. Today it is extremely hard to come by but we have been doing twice-per-year monitoring of the site using mist-netting in an attempt to see how many there might be and if there are new recruits to the population (i.e. recognisable first year birds).

We were there in May earlier this year (and didn’t catch an SGT) and this morning we did the first morning of our second session of the year. We put up 254m of net last night in the same sites we normally use and this morning opened them at 5:30am. Five hours later we closed having caught just 18 birds (which is actually not bad for this site!). Highlights were a stunning ‘Full Adult’ male Narina Trogon, an African Pygmy Kingfisher and a Juvenile Eastern Nicator. No SGT unfortunately.

Ringing a Red-capped Robin Chat Ringing a Red-capped Robin Chat

Totals were:

1/0 Narina Trogon  (first number = new birds, second number = retraps)

1/0 African Pygmy Kingfisher

1/0 Eastern Nicator

4/1 Red-capped Robin Chat

0/2 Bearded Scrub Robin (one retrap was ringed on 14/6/2006!)

0/2 Grey-backed Camaroptera

3/3 Olive Sunbird (oldest retrap was also from 2006 – 14th Oct)

Nets are still up so we’ll be back tomorrow to see if can get an SGT. We had three students from tourism courses on attachment join us for the morning which was great – learning their birds and getting excited about bird migration!

Narina Trogon being ringed

Marsh Warblers swamping out most other species


I’ve been away in Watamu for three nights and just got back this evening to find a cheerful team having managed to ring a total of 9,957 migrants so far this season, which is very reasonable. Mist has been bad, however, or rather it has been there but stayed high meaning you get a fee birds come in but generally not settling in the bushes. Under these conditions we often play a recording of Marsh Warbler which has a dramatic effect on bringing birds in… but mostly the one species. Today, out of c.1,850 birds ringed, 1,200 were Marsh Warblers…

There have been some other sparkles, however. A Eurasian Scops Owl 3 nights ago, c.3 Eurasian Reed Warblers, a Chifchaff on the morning of the 3rd I think it was which is only the 2nd ever at Ngulia in 40 years. Lilac-breasted Roller of the rare migratory race lorti was a first for here & there were a couple of hornbills ringed today. Barn swallows have stayed constant with 209 ringed today but also about the 3rd ever highest daily total for House Martins – 26. Roller numbers have dropped off but nightjars have stayed high with now wuat must be an all-time high of Donaldson-Smith’s of 27 so far this year.

The leopard hasn’t come tonight but there were 5-6 buffalo at the water hole 10 mins ago… amazingly, despite being in the heart of a national park, we have very little run ins with the local landlords. This (below) was an ele by the road not so far from the lodge…

Hopefully there’ll be more mist – we’ve had 5 mustard keen Israelis join us tonight who will be desperate to see some action..

Will try and do more details tomorrow .

Gambaga Flycatcher, Shikra and 1000s of Marsh Warblers at Ngulia

Internet access is worse than last year here at Ngulia so the chance to post blogs is even less. Also it has been wonderfully busy meaning I’ve had little time to sit and tap out any updates. It’s after 11pm now and I’m hoping to get up at 1am to assist with whatever ringing is going on so this will have to be short.

Yesterday the rest of the main team arrived – Dr David Pearson and 8 others from the UK together with 4 from the Nairobi Ringing Group / National Museums of Kenya. However before they came we had the third night with just the Aussie group and 4 others and yet another excellent night it was. The mist came in sooner and thicker than before and whilst we put up 2 nets at 1am we only actually used the second one for about 30 mins before closing it and working just the one net. There was some heavyish rain showers which helped bring the birds in and by the end of the night we had ringed a total of 668 birds. At dawn we opened the ‘L’ again but after 20 mins closed most of it in order to handle the vast number of birds going into the nets – our difficulty being that another 500 bird bags were not yet with us so we were running out of bags to put birds in. In the end it worked fine and we managed to stay in control and ring 1,015 birds during the day making a daily total of 1,683.  Once again an excellent total for a group who only have about four experienced Ngulia ringers.  

There were a couple of surprises, the best one being a Gambaga Flycatcher – again not a Palaearctic migrant, but rather an Afrotropical species but one that is hard sought after by birders and in fact was new for me since I’ve never been the Kerio Valley hunting for it. Strangely it came through in the end of the morning – about the same time that we finally got ones of the three Hippolais warblers (Olivaceous, Upcher’s and Olive-tree).

There was a magnificent movement of Eurasian Rollers not long after dawn with an estimate of 5-700 birds going through southwards in about 1 1/2 hours. There were also several Amur Falcons around at dawn and later in the afternoon probably several hundred moving through quite high with a handful cruising down lower to investigate the lodge.

So it was that Ian (joined these days by Kerry) took up his annual role of “Mist Watcher” – staying up all night waiting for the mist to roll in so that as soon as it does we can have the nets up and can be catching birds… I confess that when I finally managed to get to bed, I was out cold until 4:45am by which time the nets had been opened and furled and the majority of the 700-odd birds caught at night had been ringed. Nothing out of the ordinary during the night – just lots and lots of Marsh Warblers. In fact of the birds ringed so far, a massive 57% of them have been Marsh Warblers – but still none with a dull ring with some exotic script on it with a message from a far flung corner of Europe telling us where the bird has originated from… but it’ll come!

Nets open at dawn and it really felt very slow – a very different picture to yesterday, however birds were going into nets and in fact continued to go into nets well into the morning such that we closed at c.10:30am and had a network of swallow nets up with an army of ringers handling them. As a result, the day catch was in fact considerably higher than yesterdays and ended up at almost 1,300 birds! Total for the day was 2,047 Palaearctic migrants. There were a good number of Afrotrops as well including yet more Donaldson-Smith’s Nightjars and the first Slender-tailed Nightjar for quite a few years. These were ringed just before dawn and were gently placed on the ornamental dead tree at the base of the dining room stairs once again – where they in fact stayed the whole day even with hordes of tourists and noisy ringers gavorting around them within 2-3 metres!

Three Eurasian Rollers were ringed and another 2 Euro Nightjars. Several Harlequin Quail, a Common Button Quail, Red-wing Starling, Golden-breasted Bunting and a mad catch of the day was Janette and Nick going for a couple of Cattle Egrets on the pond in which they were 50% successful and got one of them…  and at the same time a Shikra was caught in a swallow net and half an hour later Ngulia’s 7th Green Sandpiper (I’ll need to double check on this, but it’s not much more than that).

The swallow catchers continued all day until 5pm catching a total of 307 Barn Swallows.

The totals for today are being double checked, but up until yesterday they looked like this:

Ngulia Ringing Totals – 2010                                                                                                

Species/month                         Nov                                                                   Dec                     

date                                            29        29       29       30       30       30          1          1            1

night (N), day (D), total (T):                N          D         T          N         D         T             N         D            T

Tringa ochropus                                                                                                                             

Oxylophus jacobinus                                                                                                                     

Caprimulgus europaeus                                             4                     4             1                         1

Coracias garrulus                                                                                                                           

Hirundo rustica                                     21       21       3         230     233        2          157        159

Delichon urbica                                                                                                                              

Anthus trivialis                                                                                                                               

Luscinia megarhynchos                                             3         2         5                                         

L. luscinia                                  20        30       50       135     175     310        90       172        262

Cercotrichas galactotes                                              1         1         2                                         

Irania gutturalis                       2          2         4         10       29       39          29       21          50

Phoenicurus phoenicurus                                          1                     1                                         

O. isabellina                                          1         1                                                                            

Monticola saxatilis                              1         1                                                                            

Muscicapa striata                                2         2                     2         2                         9            9

Locustella fluviatilis                 5          6         11       9         7         16          19       27          46

A. griseldis                                             1         1                     1         1                         3            3

A. scirpaceus                                                                                                                                   

A. palustris                                26        39       65       343     286     629        482     496        978

Hippolais pallida O’vacs                                                        1         1             1          1            2

H. languida  Upchers                                                              1         1                         1            1

H. olivetorum O’tree                                                               1         1                         1            1

Sylvia nisoria                                                                           1         1                         7            7

S. communis                              13        26       39       62       120     182        37       93          130

S. borin                                                                                     1         1                                         

P. trochilus                                2                     2         4                     4             6          8            14

Lanius collurio                                      4         4         1         13       14          1          16          17

L. isabellinus                                         1         1         2         5         7                         3            3

Number of full species           6          12       13       13       17       20          10       15          16

Daily total                                  68        134    202     578     876     1,454     668     1,015    1,683

Running totals                          68        134    202     646     1,010 1,656     1,314  2,025    3,339

Night as % of whole day’s total 34%                            40%                                40%                     


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