• Vincent

​​When the ladies from bird hospital De Wulp sent me the shots of the Grey-cheeked Thrush taken into care last year, it really knocked me off my feet for a few seconds. But when Rinse and I received this video mid-July we were equally shocked:

(video by Sharon Lexmond / vogelopvang De Wulp)

Black Woodpeckers colonised the country around 1915 and reached the western part of the Netherlands half a century ago (my father actually saw one of the first ones on my local patch in Meijendel). A small breeding population established in the dunes – only to disappear again in the 1990s, correlated to the rise of the Northern Goshawk. I have only ever seen one in my province (Zuid-Holland). In 2001 we actually thought they had already been wiped out, so our sighting felt like we witnessed the arrival of a big black monster from the Upside Down, such was the surprise. We celebrated like we just found a national mega.

So now, 18 years on, one may really wonder: what on earth was this thing doing here? Well, as it turned out the injured bird was picked up by a truck driver in the SE of the country, within the breeding range of the species. The driver took it home and brought it to the nearest bird hospital he knew. It recovered well from its wing fracture over the next couple of weeks.

The red cap obviously makes this a male. Baker (2016) doesn't cover this species, Demongin (2016) only briefly and on Javier Blasco Zumeta’s brilliant website this is one of the few largely incomplete documents, so ageing it was interesting.

The bird was actively moulting lesser and medium coverts, as well as feathers on the upperparts, head and in the tail. The old coverts were brown-black, whereas the new ones were ink to shiny black, forming an obvious contrast. We figured this was a contrast between juvenile and adult feathers, which was later confirmed by Cramp & Simmons (1985). So a 1st calendar year bird it was!

Just look at the moult of the cap, and how the juvenile feathers are orange red and the new adult-type ones are almost crimson.

Early August it was successfully released at an appropriate site within its breeding range:

(by Sharon Lexmond / Vogelopvang De Wulp)

So everybody happy!

Once again many thanks to Sharon and Lizzy @ De Wulp!

#BlackWoodpecker #moult #ageing #sexing

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  • Vincent

Two new articles are added to the site!

Citrine Wagtail ID: do flight calls tell us which subspecies is involved?

Could calls shed some light on the subspecies that reach NW Europe as vagrants? Maarten Wielstra collected a team of people to work on an analyses to find out if the calls of various ssp. differ on their breeding grounds. See more here.

Hybrid redstarts in Europe and North Africa: an analyses of 121 hybrids

Nicolas Martinez, Bern Nicolai and I wrote a British Birds paper on redstart hybrids. A summary of the analyses can be found here.

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  • Vincent

The 2018 ringing report for Meijendel, Wassenaar is out now!

Download here (pdf; 4 MB; in Dutch only)

English summary

When the first day of a year sees the highest number of birds ever trapped for a snowless winter's day (exactly 100), and one of these birds is a new species for the site (Coues's Arctic Redpoll), than that's nothing short of an amazing start. Partly due to two late cold spells in March our ringing group Vrs Meijendel, situated in the dunes of Meijendel, Wassenaar in the western part of the Netherlands equalled or even broke the records of four species (in terms of number of birds ringed) even before the start of the breeding season. As always we participated in the European Constant Effort Site project (CES; for breeding passerines) from mid-April to the end of July. In terms of (re)trapped adults and young birds ringed, CES was fairly good this year. Though the country witnessed the most severe drought in >40 years, the ongoing summer weather did result in a lot of suitable days for trapping. For the first time in many years, there was fairly good dispersion of immature Nightingales (total number for 2018: 129). The weather in autumn was variable, but there were still plenty of opportunities to go out ringing. The good numbers of Common Redstart (88), Cetti's Warbler (8) and Yellow-browed Warbler (17) brought colour to our autumn, and the Goldcrests arrived remarkably late, but otherwise autumn was fairly predictable: there were no serious invasions, falls, or remarkable species, though we did trap what was only our second Tawny Owl for the site in 56 years of ringing (despite their year-round presence in the area). Surprisingly a Barred Warbler trapped on 17 September was re-trapped on 20 October (34 days later) and then on 4 November (49 days). On all dates it was in good health. Though seen in the field before it was trapped on the first date, there was no sign of the bird between the catches. Not only is November very late for this species, a minimum stay of 49 days is (by far) a Dutch record. In November we assisted in an international pilot study on Starlings, that focusses on the orientation of these birds during migration. We will stay involved for the next few years. During the same month we finished the field work for our ten year genetic study on Chiffchaffs: we collected our final feather samples. Currently we are working on the first series of manuscripts. The year ended remarkably similar to how it started: again there was some movement of Redpolls and, amazingly, they were joined by a second adult male Coues's Arctic Redpoll. During the year we received multiple guests, guided several excursions, gave lectures, spoke to the media on a few occasions and published several papers. In 2018 the 17 people in our ringing group trapped birds on 100 days (a record for this century), during all months of the year. In all we ringed 6.068 birds and we re-trapped another 710 (11,7%), divided over 82 taxa (average 2008-2017: 78). Ten species were more common than ever, and another two species equalled their record year. On the other hand, some species we normally ring (nearly) every year, were absent. Surprisingly not a single Magpie, Savi's Warbler and, for the first time this century, Bullfinch were ringed. Outside Meijendel we ringed another 373 birds of 12 species (mainly chicks). Three of these species were not also ringed in Meijendel, so in 2018 we ringed a grand total of 6.459 birds of 85 taxa.

Here are some images that did not make the year report:

No, this is not a moth, it's a Wryneck's tail! With five birds ringed it was a fairly good year for them.

Male flava Yellow Wagtail: four birds ringed meant a record number for our site.

Both Dunlin and Ringed Plover are normally scarce around our ringing site, but during a cold spell in March good numbers were trapped: 30 Dunlins - including a Polish ringed bird - meant a record number, and the 5 Ringed Plovers equalled their best year.

The same applies for Eurasian Curlews. These photographs were taken on the small grassland on our ringing site.

With 88 Common Redstarts trapped, we nearly doubled our previous record (49). This stunner here is an adult male.

15 years ago we wondered if we were going to trap a Yellow-browed Warbler that year. Now we wonder how many! We even missed a series of very suitable days this year, but 8 on a single early October day was impressive, and a total of 17 ringed equalled our best year so far.

Adult (left) and 1st cy Spotted Crake.

Since this was the last year we collected Chiffchaff feathers for DNA-analyses, this Siberian Chiffchaff is a good species to end this short photo series with. Back in 2008, we were the first ringing site that started collecting feathers. Ten years on this is the most satisfying ringing project I've ever worked on. Boy, did we learn a lot! We are currently working on the first paper. Many thanks to Peter de Knijff for his analyses. On this website I'll keep on stalking you with these little gems!


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