Tuesday, 14 August 2012

14th August 2012

Leucistic Willow Warbler
It was obvious even before reaching the island that a large fall of Willow Warblers was taking place as many were seen travelling south along the island chain in small groups. Every bush on the main island had warblers flitting about it and the trapping area was alive with activity. The problem was that there was only one ringer present and so mist nets could not be deployed and therefore the heligoland traps were the only means of capture. We need not have worried as the traps caught as many as could be managed, indeed the boxes usually held at least 4 or 5 at a time, although sometimes dozens of birds scattered as the traps were approached. The arrival of warblers continued throughout the day, long after a normal fall has run its course. At a final count 165 Willow Warblers were ringed, with an estimated 700 passing during the day based on observations of large numbers of unringed birds passing south through Middle Eye, the ratio of ringed to unringed birds seen at the south end of the main island and the very few retraps even in the afternoon. It is thought that this is the biggest count of passerines ever ringed in a day on the island. The total could not have been achieved without the help of other members present (DB,AMC) and coastal warden John Ball. 
Leucistic Willow Warbler
Bird of the day was probably a leucistic Willow Warbler that made a stunning appearance in the paddocks and gave one  excited member a real puzzle until he soon realised what it was. Despite the large number of Willow Warblers there were sightings of just a single Whitethroat to represent the other species, although 2 Wheatears were on the west side, one of which, a juvenile was ringed.
Black Tern (centre of picture) with other terns
 Black Terns made another appearance in the form of 3 flying down the west side in the morning and an adult later with the other terns on the east hoyle bank. A Sparrowhawk went down the ridge south of Middle early on and a dark phase Arctic Skua hunted the east hoyle tern roost. About 80 Swallows were logged going south. Three Migrant Hawker dragonflies were noted today indicative of an emergence on the island. Ringed :- 165 Willow Warblers, 1 Wheatear     [ 880 - 29 ]
(DB,AMC+1,CJ, John Ball)  photos  CJ

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