Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Northwesterly winds promised a bit of action at sea, but they never really delivered. One lucky observer had a distant Sabine's Gull and a couple of Black Guillemots whilst the rest of us only managed a couple of Black Terns and a few of the commoner skuas. The highlight has been Giselle's Melodious Warbler which continues to delight all comers in the Observatory garden. When she first trapped it the fat and muscle scores for the bird were a lightweight 0/0. The fat is the bird's primary energy reserve and is quickly gained and lost by migrating passerines. The muscle score is a measure of the size of the pectoral muscles whose proteins are used as fuel by migrants. So the Melodious had basically used up all of its fat reserves and wasted its pectoral muscles to get here. But since it has been gorging itself on flies in the back garden and will soon be ready for the off - hopefully in the right direction this time.

Of the ten Melodious Warblers reported in the UK since the 1st of August, we have recorded two of them. Only St. Mary's has managed the same. (c) Richard Brown

The bird is very active, constantly on the look out for insects. Its head is always darting around to spot the next victim. It then either flies at the insect and grabs it or, as in the bottom photo, slowly sticks its neck out before striking out gecko-fashion with a quick lunge. The quickest way to find the bird in the Obs garden is to listen out for the snap of its bill, a sound much louder than that made by the Phylloscs. (c) Richard Brown

An Icterine Warbler (on the 26th August last year) and Chiffchaff also making the most of large flies. (c) Richard Brown

Most of the Manx Shearwaters are now fledging. Youngsters that haven't made it out to sea or back down a burrow are easy pickings for the Great Black-backed Gulls and Crows. (c) Richard Brown

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