Thursday, 23 February 2012

On Tour: Spinoletta's

Following a morning at Figueira da Foz, we went for a bite to eat and then on to Paul da Madriz to set the nets for a Water Pipit roost and the following mornings ringing session. Eventually joined by Miguel 'I-am-a-Facebook-stalker' Araújo we set two lines in what is considered to be the most treacherous marsh in the whole of the Iberian peninsula - I almost fell in about three times! We also put up Line 1 (for the morning) and a double at a new feeding station. The most amusing part of the afternoon, other than making fun of Miguel, was watching Luis climb a tree to inspect a nest, with me and Moxey watching only for a squirrel to shoot out of its drey just as Luis got close. Denied.

Line 3 - ready for Water Pipits

Following a brief adjournment to a café we returned to the marsh to open the nets and place the calls for the Water Pipits. It wasn't long before the Water Pipits started to respond to the roost calls, along with a small number of Swallows and a few Starlings. It was interesting to watch the response of the pipits, instead of coming straight into the calls, the birds were dropping into the reed bed within ten meters either side of the nets and then progressed through the reeds until they crossed the net ride, at which point they were caught.

We ended up with twenty-eight Water Pipits, a Reed Bunting and a Starling - a rare appearance in the nets at Madriz. So it was that there would be new species all around, the birds were then roosted over night to be ringed in the morning.

Moxey rings his first Portuguese Water Pipit

 Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta)


Paulo Ferreira can't hide his excitement at ringing a Starling


Scouse meets Spinoletta

The morning session was slow....and cold. Madriz has it's own microclimate which means in winter, its bloody cold first thing in the morning! The challenging overnight temperatures and an apparent lack of natural food at this time of year for species such as Robin was clear, with the lowest weight of a Robin I have ever encountered at 11.4g. A bird would never survive in the UK at weights less than 15g and I don't hold out much hope for this individual.

The mornings ringing was slow, but once the temperatures started to rise, some of the birds started moving, with a couple of Chiffchaff and a few Blackcap making an appearance, along with another female Cetti's Warbler. By time it came to pack away, the temperature had risen to a balmy 15 degrees so we headed to Montemor-o-Velho for lunch and a few tasty Super Bocks!

The view of Line 2

Greenfinch -   1
Chiffchaff -   3
Water Pipit -   28
Starling -   1
Reed Bunting -   1
Cetti's Warbler -   (1)
Blue Tit -   (1)
Robin -   (1)
Great Tit -   (1)
Blackbird -   (1)
Blackcap -   2   (1)
Coal Tit -   1

TOTAL:   31   (6)

Another fantastic visit to Portugal completed, thanks to Paulo Tenriero, Tó Periera, Paulo Ferriera, Pedro Andrade and Luis Silva but most of all, Isabel Mendes for her fantastic cooking!!!

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