9 Jan 2012

Bahrain - Ringing at Alba Marsh

I went ringing again last Friday in Bahrain with Brendan and Nicole. This was our first ringing trip for three weeks but unfortunately the marsh is still in a polluted state with even more of the reed beds dead than when we last visited in early December 2011. Brendan has reported the pollution to the relevant authorities who will, hopefully, sort the matter out. We set three 18 metre four panel mist nets and two single panel nets one 12 metres long and one short five metre one. We started ringing just after first light and things were quite slow to start with but picked up over the mornings ringing session allowing us to eventually catch 20 birds including four re-traps, three of which were caught in the first four birds trapped including a re-trapped Water Pipit (A. s. coutelli) which is only the second one re-trapped in Bahrain.
Water Pipit - A. s. coutelli
Water Pipit - A. s. coutelli
We only caught four species of bird, Bluethroat, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Graceful Prinia and Water Pipit and had a re-trap of each species. All the re-traps were ringed at the same site in November 2011 showing that the birds spend the winter at the same site. I am not sure if the pollution has reduced the number of birds at this site as there appeared to be a lot of birds about but they were mainly Water Pipit and Bluethroat with Bluethroats being numerous and all the birds caught being second calendar year birds (birds born last summer) and the majority of them being males.
 Bluethroat - second calendar year

 Bluethroat - second calendar year

 Bluethroat - second calendar year

 Bluethroat - second calendar year (different bird to above)

 Bluethroat - second calendar year

Bluethroat - second calendar year

Graceful Prinia is a resident breeder at the site and is very vocal and obvious. They are so small that they often go through the nets before they can be handled. A few of the ones that do get trapped get very tangled in the nets and it takes someone with a lot of skill and experience to extract them. I am a long way away from being able to extract these tangled birds I fear.
 Graceful Prinia
 Graceful Prinia

Clamorous Reed Warbler is a beautiful bird in the hand and is my favourite species handled so far. The size difference of some of the birds we have caught can be quite marked but aging and sexing the birds is difficult in the winter until the breeding season starts I another month. It will be interesting to see if we can work out if the large birds are male and the smaller ones are female as the year progresses.
Clamorous Reed Warbler

 Clamorous Reed Warbler

 Clamorous Reed Warbler

Clamorous Reed Warbler

I ringed two Clamorous Reed Warblers, three Bluethroats plus one re-trap, three Graceful Prinias and three Water Pipits with Nicole ringing the remaining birds or processing the other re-traps.

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