The wind on week three has become stronger, making it more difficult to catch the birds, and we are getting up earlier with the increasing day length to make sure the first couple of net rounds are as productive as possible. Early starts are meaning early nights, and a 9.00pm bed time is becoming the norm now. Monday on the south side was quiet but had two afro-trop rarities for this ringing site –African Moustached Warbler and Greater Honeyguide plus a Garden Warbler originally ringed in Holland.
The weather this week is exceptionally hot and humid, fifteen minutes after a cold shower you feel like having another. In the shade of the plantains the group had a good day on Tuesday for migrants with ten new birds, including a new Nightingale and three retraps, and a more moderate Wednesday session with four new Reed Warblers, a Pied Flycatcher and a retrap Garden Warbler. Local birds included two retrap Common Wattle-eyes, one from October 2011 and one from earlier in our trip. The slower session allowed us to pack up the south east nets and put up the the north east nets again, speedily in time for Mark’s birthday celebrations. Vicky had planned some birthday surprises with the expert help of Eric – (now a mixologist as well as a chef) who made home-made pina-colada with fresh pineapple and coconut, mixed, of course with some rum as a present, a homemade card and traditional spice bowl and grinder. Many happy returns Mark!
The next day brought a new Lizard Buzzard and our success with catching migrants continued with two Pied Flycatchers, Reed Warblers and Garden Warblers.
Amazingly in the morning John extracted a control Reed Warbler from the north west nets, our second control, and from Holland again! Obviously on a winning streak having extracted both the controls we are hoping John will make it third time lucky for us with another.
Following the usual raucous Nsoatre Friday night from the energetic locals (for we are now fast becoming grumpy stop-ins owing to the early mornings) a sleepy team again assembled for ringing on the north side. There was a horrible smell by the north east ride which was later discovered by John to be small mongoose that had died at some point after being caught around its arm and head in a spring loaded snare. These cruel traps are widely used throughout the local area and indiscriminately used for hunting bush meat, we have seen snakes and ground squirrels trapped in them also. We all hope that the use of these inhumane devices is stopped.
On a more positive note, our efforts were rewarded with 17 migrant birds captured, including five Nightingales. Three of these were new birds without rings, and one of the retraps was a bird that had been fitted with a tail mounted radio tag in January 2012 (the tag has long since dropped off) and to our delight the remaining retrap provided our third Geolocator recovery! This bird is suspected to have already been on passage when the device was fitted in 2012 and was carrying the most fat of any Nightingale trapped this month, indicating the journey northward is underway. We are looking forward to discovering if the data from this individual tells a different story to the two devices already recovered from Nightingales that were known to over-winter locally.