14 Nov 2014

Bluethroats returning in numbers – Sabkhat Al Fasl

My last ringing trip to Sabkhat Al Fasl was almost cancelled due to the wind. The forecast all week had been strong winds continuing until Friday, the only day I could go ringing. I was very kken to go ringing though as I can only go once a week and due to the lack of ringers sometimes the weekends are not possible if Nicole or I are away or busy. As a result we set off the 135 kilometres to our ringing site (where the Saudi Wildlife Authority have given me permission to ring) and got there before first light. We had an extra pair of hands in form of the Harald the son of a birdwatcher on camp who was visiting for the school holidays. It was quit windy as expected but we set all our nets as usual with the exception of the most exposed one as this would have been to windy. One net set in a thick reed bed was the least exposed and as suspected caught the most birds most of which were Bluethroats. Bluethroat is an uncommon passage migrant and winter visitor to Saudi Arabia where they prefer damp areas. Both Red-spotted and White-spotted birds occur with Red-spotted being much the commoner of the two forms. In winter it is difficult to differentiate between the forms as only adult summer males can be told apart in the field. We do catch these sometimes but more often in spring than autumn. The first Bluethroats were seen almost a month ago but this ringing trip we managed to catch four birds and see and hear many others indicating they are back on their wintering grounds in good numbers. It will be interesting to see if we re-trap any of these birds over the winter months at the site. Apart from the Bluethroats ringing was quite difficult but we did manage to catch both Great Reed Warblers and Indian (Clamorous) Reed Warblers as well as Graceful Prinia. All in all it was a worthwhile exercise going ringing and we all returned home happy.
Bluethroat
Bluethroat
Bluethroat
Great Reed Warbler
Great Reed Warbler
Indian Reed Warbler
Graceful Prinia

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