Thursday, September 22, 2011

Quality without quantity

After last weeks' excellent ringing, we returned to the alfalfa field near Bet Kama this morning with high expectations. Weather was good too with fresh autumn temperatures and good cloud cover to knock some birds down. After good practice in erecting long lines of nets in darkness, day broke and we found the field wagtail-less. Compared to last week when we had about 600 wagtails in the small field, today we had maybe 50. The Short-toed Lark flock was larger with about 150 birds, but they are very hard to catch. The reason to the absence of wagtails might be the absence of Spodoptera exigua caterpillars that were abundant last week and must have atrracted lots of birds to the field. This week they were gone, possibly eaten up by the wagtails and migrated to Africe inside their stomachs...
Eventually we had a rather small catch. Compared to last week species composition was very similar (GST Larks, Isabelline Wheaters and a few other bits and pieces) but we lacked the bulk of wagtails that made last week so much fun.
Like last week, a juv. Pallid Harrier chased a bird into the net, but unlike last weeks' sparrowhawk it managed to bounce out of the net before we reached it. We had two Hoopoes that are always nice birds to ring:

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