Southern colors

19 06 2013

“I try to apply colors like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music.”

– Joan Miró

It was really warm at 5 o’clock in the morning and the (Common) nightingales were already singing. Just one hour later, the Golden orioles joined them while the Alpine swifts and the Bee-eaters started to fly over. Cetti’s, Sardinian warbler, Short-toed tree-creeper, Long-tailed tits with a black head, Green woodpeckers with a grey face… Mediterranean, in the end!


It was a day of ringing, of course, but it was also the day of the reencounters. After more than 3 months in Sweden, the differences were even more noticeable. It had been around 2 years without going to Abrera, a good river woodland surrounding the Llobregat river, around 25 km inland from the river mouth. The place was completely different from what I did remember and I realized how dynamic these ecosystems are. Depending on the floods or the droughts, the shape of the river (and therefore the shape of the forest) varies from one year to another. The ecological succession had also played its role and some cane’ areas had turned into poplars and tamarinds.

What never changes at Abrera is the diversity in the captures. Firstly, we caught 3 wrynecks, one of them being a downy young. The probable parents (all three were in the same net at the same time) were both 2cy, one of them with this nice moult limit in the secondaries. Sometimes is not easy to assess the pattern and the wear of the primary coverts, so the secondaries are also worth-looking.

retained SS jynx

After a couple of net rounds with short-toed treecreepers, nightingales and green woodpeckers, we caught a very nice Bee-eater. It has retained all the primary coverts in the left wind, but in the other it has replaced one. To be honest, I’ve lost practice with Bee-eaters and what I remember is the difficulties I used to have while judging the primary coverts. This bird was extremely useful to compare juvenile and adult feathers side-by-side.


replaced pcc

The last colorful bird was a Hoopoe. The crest was worn, like in most punks nowadays, and so were the tertials and the primaries. However, the bird lacked the obvious contrast shown by the 2cy Hoopoes in Marc’s blog. Actually, the old secondaries in both Marc’s hoopoes and in this one are still glossy and the age of each feather can be really hard to tell. However, the width of the white bands seems to be a good evidence of where the moult limit is and if we trust it, this bird shows what in my opinion is a moult limit. The width of the white fits with a slightly browner color in the outer secondary, especially in the basis of the feather. The shape of the tip is also quite different, being more square-shaped in the adult feather.

Upupa head

SS upupa

If I want to keep on learning about these species, time is money and I can’t stay at home.



%d bloggers like this: