Ringing and Birding Nanjizal – 23rd November

After what has felt like weeks of constant windy and wet weather, it was a pleasant surprise to see a gap open up for Sunday and Monday. This spurred a few of us C permit holders on campus to try and get down to Nanjizal for one last ringing session before Kester brings the nets down for the winter. With the forecast looking good for Monday, I decided to head back to this brilliant ringing site with fellow ringers Ellie Mahew, Louis O’neill and his partner. We headed off early to get down to the valley just after dawn; the conditions were superb, with clear skies, low winds and very chilly temperatures encouraging an excellent movement of migrants. We passed a large flock of c. 5000 Starlings emerging from their roost at Marazion on our way, and arrived on site for one of the first net rounds, after Kester had opened up a while beforehand.

We had a fantastic morning’s ringing, trapping a total of 74 new birds, and processing around 20 retraps. It was surprising to find so many Chiffchaffs flitting around the trees and willows, with a total of 30 new birds ringed, and a further 10 retraps! Perhaps the highlights of the morning came in the form of a Water Rail (one of at least four on site), several stunning Firecrests, a Cetti’s Warbler, an impressive four Siberian Chiffchaffs, and a good handful of Redwings and Song Thrushes. Commoner species trapped during the morning included Chaffinches, Long-tailed Tits, Goldfinches and Blackbirds. Check out the images below for some more detalils on the ringing session.

In addition to the ringing, it was fantastic to witness the visible migration taking place overhead. The morning’s totals were quite impressive by the time we left, in particular due to the movement of Woodpigeons that was taking place. We recorded the following: 1342 Starlings, 1643 Woodpigeons, 27 Siskins, 55 Chaffinches, two Bramblings, two Reed Buntings, 12 Snipe, six Stock Doves, 17 Skylarks, 10 Goldfinches, nine Golden Plovers, 10 Lapwings, 10 Greenfinches and two Mistle Thrushes. A great morning all-in-all; it really was nice to be back down in this amazing site.

A crisp morning at Nanjizal

This cracking Water Rail was one of the highlights of the morning. They are not to be messed with: this seemingly docile and shy creature can be a voracious carnivore, eating anything it can get a hold of

Most of the Firecrests we trapped during the morning were re-traps from previous sessions, but there was one new bird in the mix. This stunning male was aspiring to be a Pacific Royal Flycatcher!!

It was cool to catch a total of four Siberian Chiffchaffs during the morning, all of which were really smart birds that gave a lovely Bullfinch-like ‘huuet’ call upon release. Here are two of them in the above image, alongside a Common Chiffchaff (far left) 
And again, the tristis on the right and a collybita on the left
One of the Siberian Chiffchaffs trapped and ringed

A comparison of tail shape in Chiffchaffs, for ageing a juvenile and an adult. You can see the browner, tatty and more pointed tail feathers of the juvenile (age 3) on the right, compared to a lovely broad and glossy adult (age 4) on the left
Several Long-tailed Tits found their way into the nets during the morning, although most already sported rings

 One of the seven Redwings ringed during the morning
 An interesting abnormality on the 5th tail feather, with a highly attenuated tip! Very odd
Fault bar with a capital ‘F’!! This Robin obviously experienced some stressful or adverse environmental condition during the developmental process when growing the feathers at this point! A look under the upper mandible confirmed this bird as an age 3, due to the extensive yellow colour 

Great to see an adult Great Tit, with bright blue fringing to most of its flight feathers and coverts, compared to the duller tones and contrast in a juvenile’s wing

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