This was unexpected

18 08 2013

“But, instead of what our imagination makes us suppose and which we worthless try to discover, life gives us something that we could hardly imagine.”

– Marcel Proust

One of the best things about birding is that every new day is different from the previous one, mainly because of the migration phenomenon but also because of our point of view, because a different state of mind leads to different approaches to a very similar reality. After a month ringing reed warblers (i.e. Reed, Marsh and Sedge warblers), I felt I needed a day at the Lighthouse. This day was finally last Friday, preceded by another night of wader ringing. The night started with a very nice dusk at Nabben but the ringing itself was not so successful this time in terms of numbers. However, an impressive adult (male) Oystercatcher delighted us with its elegance.

Lighthouse at dusk

Oystercatcher3

Ringing at the Lighthouse was indeed very pleasant. 48 birds in total, with some nice species among such as Wood warbler and Red-backed shrike, hard to catch in our loved Flommen’ reedbed. However, the most unexpected catch was a Nathusius’s pipistrelle Pipistrellus nathusii that was found biting net 2. We struggled to take it out of the net but finally managed and proceed with the measurements. The overall color was paler than the Common pipistrelles I used to catch at Llobregat Delta and a slightly longer snout was also quite striking. the whole bat looked slightly bigger, probably due to the longer fur that is meant to have. The measurements fitted with the species: 53 cm. of body, 245 for the wingspan and 38 for the forearm. Despite what people usually says about bats, I still think they are beautiful…

Pipistrellus nathusii

Even I had been ringing for already 14 hours, the massive migration of crossbills pushed me to keep on going. Caroline was also encouraged, so we put up some nets south of the garden and, with the help of the speaker playing loud the crossbill-mix that Stephen had composed for the occasion, we managed to catch 1 Common crossbill. Several flocks landed just by the nets, but it was too windy and the pine trees too high. A Two-barred crossbill part of a flock of Common landed 2 m. from the net and what I saw like a lost chance became an encouragement for the day after.

Yesterday was a good day at Flommen (91 birds caught) but it was even better at Nabben. The migration counters managed to double both the Common and the Two-barred crossbill daily totals with 6580 and 51 respectively. We went straight to the Lighthouse and set the same net than the day before. It took a while for the crossbills to start landing but after a “fake” Two-barred we finally caught 2 “actual” Two-barred crossbills. One of them was still calling on its trumpeter style while I was taking it out of the net.

Loxia leucoptera

It showed some orange feathers in the breast, maybe pointing to a male.

leucoptera breast

The comparison between the 2 species was quite interesting. Apart from the fact that Two-barred is not as small as I had expected and the bill not as thin (just 1mm thinner than the Common!), a well-marked Common like the one we caught can cause some problems. Surprisingly, the bar in the median coverts seems to be the key. Half of the feather is white in Two-barred, but only the thin edge in Common. The tertials should be also useful, but I am slightly afraid of a Common with more white than that… A key feature that might work in the field is the wing tip: P2-P3 in Two-barred and P4 in Common. We may catch more in the next days so it will be interesting to study different ages. Yeah, I have to confess: a bright red male would be so cool…

loxia curvirostra barred ala

leucoptera wing

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