I had to leave Ngulia to get back to Watamu on the 30th November and the night was a clear one – no mist – and so… no birds. However we still opened the nets in the morning to see what we’d get and as we’d had the tapes on playing the song of Marsh Warbler, Sprosser, Whitethroat and River Warbler (the ‘Ngulia Mix’), we did get 285 migrants to ring and the swallows have finally turned up meaning 210 were ringed.
Service with a smile – Ian doing the Passionfruit Juice run during the early morning ringing…
There was a ‘dull’ ring – the first of the year – on a Marsh Warbler, but it wasn’t one from another scheme but one one of our own from a previous year – still, it’s interesting to trap birds that have flown into Tanzania, possibly Malawi, then returned to Europe and come back again following the same route as before. We also ringed a Sedge Warbler – the first of the year and a species I always enjoy catching as they look so smart with their strong white supercilium (eye brow) and streaked back.
However it was the Afrotopicals that took the lime light instead – a Paradise Flycatcher was the first for this year and is always popular with overseas ringers, but we did have a new species for the Ngulia ringing list: a Scaly Chatterer. A smart and slightly bizarre looking bird with naked skin around its eye and strongly decurved bill. Chege Kariuki of Birdwatching East Africa Safaris had seen them not far up the valley a week or so ago though had been surprised to see them there. But really it was the African Green Pigeon – only the 3rd ringed at Ngulia (though commonly seen) – that was by far and away the most outrageous and stunning bird we caught and drew the most ‘WOW!’s from people in its incredible combo of colours – beautiful green plumage with startling red feet and crazy blue eyes… Will get some pics to add to this later from other ringers as I didn’t have a camera at the time.
Another smart Afrotrop caught at Ngulia – Diederik Cuckoo
I’ve heard from David Pearson since the end of the ringing session and the final tally of migrants by the time they closed up and left was just over 10,800. Not so bad considering we had relatively few nights with mist – and good to get over the 10,000 mark – though certainly different to many of the seasons we’ve had over the past 15-20 years when we’ve caught over 20,000.
David has written up a major report on the ringing since the early 1990s that we hope to publish – we’ll let you know when and where it gets published.