Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Another busy few days have passed since the Ruff time we had last week. We were joined by the guys from the Dyfi Osprey Project and had a fantastic time, but very few birds. They left knowing that the weather forecast looked promising for birds and insisted that we made no mention here of what appeared after their departure. No mention of the Corncrake that turned up today near the Plantation for example. Or the Leach's Petrel attracted to the lighthouse the day before. Sadly there has been little else to tease them about, with a solitary Ruff probably being the best of the rest. A few Whinchats, Yellow Wagtails and Wheatears have provided a bit of entertainment photo-wise and the commoner waders remain approachable around the Narrows.

Up to five Bar-tailed Godwit have visited Solfach recently, but two approachable birds have found this area particularly to their liking and have now been present for five days. These elegant waders are more diminutive than their Black-tailed cousins, but this is not always the case. As you head eastwards from Western Europe towards South East Asia and Australasia, the average size of Black-tailed Godwits decreases. At the same time the average size of Bar-tails increases. So if we lived in Vietnam we'd be talking about the more diminutive Black-tails. Linnaeus first described the Bar-wit in 1758 from a specimen taken in Lapland, hence the specific name lapponica. (c) Richard Brown

A trickle of Whinchats have passed through in the last few weeks. Back in 1954 the Germans Schmidt and Hantge colour-ringed Whinchats on their breeding grounds (the Whinchat's breeding grounds, not the German's). They found that 6.5% of nestlings, 47% of adult males and 27% of adult females, return to the same areas the following spring. (c) Richard Brown

A few of the Wheatears are also proving rather approachable. This one preferred cow pats for perching before dropping into the grass and cocking a head to listen for a meal. As for Whinchat, breeding site fidelity is very high among established breeders, but in Wheatears first-timers may range more widely when looking for a territory. (c) Richard Brown

The 34th Leach's Petrel to be ringed on Bardsey and the 76th species we've ringed this year. The whiter fringes to the coverts show that this pelagic wanderer hatched this year. (c) Richard Brown

The South End pair of Chough have taken to spending a lot of time on the top window of the Lighthouse tower. It must be annoying not being able to groom the feathers around your own head and neck so these two were spending a fair bit of time tending to each other's grooming needs. Such allopreening apparently helps to maintain the pair bond. The more cynical may believe that keeping a successful partner in good fettle means that they wont have to go to the trouble of finding a new one if they get diseased. (c) Richard Brown

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