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
Caprimulgus europaeus 4 4 1 1
Hirundo rustica 21 21 3 230 233 2 157 159
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. 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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