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On a cold wet winter´s day, what better than to look back to those warm balmy days of summer.

It was still dark when I set out on an early June morning to open the nets; Casares was just a silhouette against the brightening eastern skyline. Nightingales continued their nocturnal chorus but were joined now by the tentative calls of numerous other species. Bats swept past enjoying a last feed before going to roost. What did the next two months hold in store? The results for 2012 and 2013 were disappointing for our local breeding passerines due to the cold, wet, late springs. 2013 was particularly late; we were still using the wood burning stove well into May. This year we still had logs to spare, not having needed a fire in April. Hopes were high.

I do not ring in April and May as the birds are breeding and feeding young in the nest so it is not until June and July that any clear assessment can be made as to the fortunes of “our” birds. Most sessions lasted from dawn to midday but wind and or extreme heat, particularly in late July often resulted in an early closure of the nets. For a description of the 2.6 hectare study area see”Site Fidelity of Wintering Blackcaps”, Birds of Andalucia. Spring 2013 (volume 2 issue 2).

Early indications for 2014 were promising. Juvenile Robins, Stonechats, Blackbirds and Goldfinches were already on the wing. By the end of July the total for the two months was 549 passerines ringed in 22 ringing sessions. The corresponding figures for June and July 2008 - 2014 were compared. (Fig 1)

The total number of birds ringed in June & July 2014, 549, was the second highest total since a more systematic regime was introduced in 2008. This was particularly pleasing following the very poor year in 2013; clearly the birds are resilient and given ideal breeding conditions, can recover after short term setbacks.

An examination of some of the more common species clearly shows that Stonechats, Blackbirds, Cetti´s, Melodious, Sardinian Warblers and Blackcaps had a very successful breeding season. They were assisted by an abundant berry crop and an abundance of insects. House Sparrows that breed in the building started early and reared two and possibly three broods. Goldfinches were nest building in March and also reared at least two broods. Three, possibly four pairs of Nightingales bred on the plot. Two of the adults were birds ringed here as juveniles in previous years.

It will be interesting to see how the fortunes of the species from northern Europe that overwinter in southern Spain have fared by comparison.
 

 

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

Wren

4

6

1

0

2

3

1

Robin

1

4

1

2

1

0

1

Nightingale

9

8

8

11

6

7

8

Stonechat

15

22

9

14

10

7

38

Blue Rock-thrush

1

15

2

0

0

0

0

Blackbird

27

32

13

22

7

0

26

Mistle Thrush

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

Grasshopper Warbler

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

Cetti's Warbler

0

2

2

0

0

1

10

Zitting Cisticola

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

Reed Warbler

0

0

3

2

0

0

0

Melodious Warbler

3

8

0

1

3

1

12

Subalpine Warbler

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

Sardinian Warbler

312

477

136

176

172

116

272

Eurasian Blackcap

28

39

12

18

22

11

25

Bonelli's Warbler

1

0

1

1

0

0

2

Iberian Chiffchaff

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

Firecrest

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Spotted Flycatcher

1

0

7

4

0

3

9

Long-tailed Tit

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

Blue Tit

1

16

1

3

1

2

9

Great Tit

2

4

1

1

1

1

3

Short-toed Treecreeper

1

6

1

0

1

0

3

Woodchat Shrike

0

2

1

0

0

0

0

House Sparrow

12

34

30

14

17

14

42

Chaffinch

2

1

0

0

0

0

2

Serin

10

4

2

5

2

2

4

Greenfinch

7

11

5

6

1

2

9

Goldfinch

21

65

10

29

33

20

71

Hawfinch

0

4

0

0

0

0

0

Linnet

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

Cirl Bunting

3

4

1

0

0

0

1

Total ringed June & July

463

766

249

312

280

190

549

Number of sessions

18

25

15

17

19

19

22

New birds/session

26

31

17

18

15

10

25


Author: John Hale

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