27 August 2013

If you go down to the reedbed you might just get a surprise!!

Yesterday ended up being one of those 'burning the candle from both ends' kind of days.

Having been up in the early hours ringing Storm Petrels now it was time to head to the reedbed for the evening and some Swallow ringing.

This session was with Colin, Stan and his wife Margaret.

There were still a few Sedge Warblers about and of course Swallows. We also ringed a couple more Starlings.

On one of the nets rounds as Colin and myself went past one of the nets there was a bird that was obviously not a Swallow or Sedge Warbler and with only a quick glance in fading light I initally thought it was a Reed Warbler. We decided to leave it for Stan to extract as it would give him a new species. As we started extracting birds from the next net Colin said that it didn't look right for a Reed Warbler as it looked too big.

Once we got back to the ringing point Colin had an initial good look at the bird and confirmed it wasn't what I had thought it was and that it was something we hadn't had at the reed bed before.

As Stan had extracted the bird he would get to ring it, but first it had to be identified. We then started looking at the key features and with reference to Svensson's book 'Identification Guide to European Passerines' we started to rule various species out until we were left with one species that fitted the description.

Here in the reed bed we had caught a species that is usually found in the forests of Europe and Asia which heads to Africa for the winter. A species which has only been recorded in Orkney on seven previous occassions.

The species in question, a Thrush Nightingale.

With the bird identified it was ringed and then all the details recorded for submission to the relevant rare bird committees.

Thrush Nighting Gale - photo by me
Thrush Nightingale - photo by Stan
Thrush Nightingale - photo by Stan
As I said earlier there have only been seven records up to now for this species with the first being 30 years ago.

Previous records are:

  12-16 May 83     Graemeshall, Holm
  26-27 May 88     North Ronaldsay
  25 May 92         North Ronaldsay
  1 Sep 92           Deerness
  21 May 93         North Ronaldsay
  18 Sep 95         St Ola
  13 Oct 06          Herston

We caught 48 birds in total, consisting of 7 Sedge Warbler (including one retrap), 2 Starlings, 38 Swallows and 1 Thrush Nightingale.

Totals caught this season so far:

  Blackbird                   1
  Linnet                       1

  Pied Wagtail            11
  Reed Bunting           15
  Sand Martin               8
  Sedge Warbler          73
  Starling                    21
  Swallow                  430

  Thrush Nightingale      1

The number of Sedge Warbler is now starting to tail off and hopefully we might get a Reed Warbler before the end of the season. Sand Martins and Starlings are both highest totals for the reed bed seasons.

We'll have to wait and see if there will be any more surprises lurking in the reeds.