I’ve just got back from a weeks birding and ringing in sunny Gibraltar. It’s taken me a couple of days to acclimatise to this ongoing cold weather but I’m finally in a state of mind to get something up on my blog. Firstly I’ve come back to two bits of news. Firstly my application for an ‘A’ permit was accepted by the ringing committee and the BTO. So a huge thanks to them but more importantly a huge thanks to my trainer Steve Hales who’s passed on so much knowledge and skill over the past three years or so. Secondly the wintering Lesser Whitethroat I’ve mentioned in previous post was confirmed as being a Blyth’s or Siberian Lesser Whitethroat and incredibly is the first genetically confirmed record of this race in the UK! It’s DNA sequence match’s exactly that of birds found in Kazakhstan and Russia. It’s a fantastic record and fills another gap in the complex puzzle that is races of Lesser Whitethroat. Cheers to Ian who trapped the bird along with myself and Brett who’d got some excellent photo’s of the bird and correctly identified the race which is no easy thing to do. Also massive thanks to Bob and Tricia for lending us their garden to catch the bird and for keeping it well fed for the winter! Lamb fat wasn’t it?
OK, onto some holiday stuff. The trip to Gibraltar is always a ringing and birding trip at the bird observatory. The place in the right conditions can see thousands of raptors migrating over from nearby Morocco and again in the right conditions can have big falls of passerines also migrating across. This year was a bit like last year in that the raptor passage was superb but the ringing a little quiet however we caught some stunning species. I’ll post more pics another time but can’t resist posting this one of a Scops Owl!
Like I said the raptors were amazing and the week will almost certainly go down in the Gib history books for the amount of species encountered. The first major highlight was this stunning male Pallid Harrier, only the fifth record for the territory.
This was followed the next day by this female Pallid Harrier which was not only the sixth record but the first ever female recorded in Gib! Was quite funny because I’d shouted Hen Harrier when it wasn’t particularly close and as it went passed I snapped away with the camera. Once it had gone by I glanced over to Steve Norman who’s the resident raptor and ringing guru and we both had our suspicions. A quick glance through the pics revealed this incredible record!
After our amazing run of rarities we joked about other possibilities, most emphasised was Lesser Spotted Eagle... Well, you might be able to guess what this next bird is??