Saturday, 25 July 2009

Few warblers but a decent obscure moth

Heysham Obs
Reasonable conditions for mist-netting at both Middleton and the Heysham CES? Not too bad weather-wise until mid-morning, but the number of warbler sp, especially at Middleton, was almost unbelievably low - more like early-mid August after a starry-night clear-out of any migrants. I suppose it is getting towards August, and the correspondingly early large 'local young bird-fest' in the nets during late June (as opposed to the usual first half of July) suggests that many of these birds have already lifted themselves skywards and headed south after an earlyish and trouble-free breeding season and not a lot since to hang around for. Any comments from other ringers?

Middleton IE 0645-1015 (3.5hrs)
Kingfisher - juvenile ringed (first of autumn)
Swift - 37 S
House Martin - 17 S
Swallow - 34 S
No Grasshopper or Reed Warblers heard/seen/caught!

Ocean Edge/Red Nab
Med Gull - 6: 4 x ad, 2 x 2CY
(see below)
Whimbrel = 5


Orthotelia sparganella was the star of the show this morning - caught in an actinic trap in the reedbed. It is the fourth record for VC60 (West Lancs), with two of the previous ones at Leighton and the other in the south of the VC. It is best described as elusive and limited to wetland areas with bur-reed, the larval food-plant

Meds - are they really worth examining?
Anyone who has read & agrees with the Punkbirder Birdwatch article on the theme of 'car potato' gull subtleties when people might be better off pioneering new bushes and coastal fields to thrash for migrants (& they do put their money where their mouth is), please move on!

2CY one: Most of the views of Meds are of sleeping birds on Red Nab. Take care! One 2CY looked like a 'round-ended' "adult". In other words the outer 5 or so primaries were in moult stages 3-4 = 'half-grown' in English. The next stage of ageing this bird was to examine the tips of these growing primaries. If white = advanced adult or 3CY=moulting into adult plumage from 2nd summer. A wing-stretch (convenient!) saw these growing primaries had black terminal 'spots' visible, therefore = 2CY moulting from 1st summer to 2nd winter. Back-up = wait for it to show the bill and, bingo, it was a rather dirty orange-red = 2CY.

2CY two: much easier: at least 4 old original primaries still not moulted, plus some dusky bits on the wing coverts

ADULTS: One required caution. It had a similar stage of moult to the first 2CY. Therefore because there are no old primaries to assist the ageing, this bird MAY be a 3CY which has moulted all the "recognisable" 2nd summer features. Indeed, the advanced stage of the moult (sorry for confusing bad english in earlier text) might suggest a non-breeding 3CY. Therefore 3CY birds post-moult become "adults" for the rest of their lives although at least one bird of known age retained blacker legs throughout the 3rd winter than one would have expected on an adult. Subtle, and one is again reminded of the Punkbirder article!

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