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Monday, October 12, 2009

Migration through Doñana

Although we already know a great deal about the migration strategies of trans-Saharan migrant birds, there is still much to learn about the details of the timing and location of stopover areas between species and within population categories (age and sex classes) of individual species. There is considerable evidence that climate change is affecting migration patterns and this needs to be understood.

Accordingly, the European-African Songbird Migration Network was established to study the migration of birds in key sites throughout Europe and Africa. Birds are caught and ringed, and details measurements, including weight and fat load, are observed and recorded.

The European-African Songbird Migration Network uses standardised methodology in the study of migrating birds in key sites through Europe and Africa.

One of these sites is in the Coto Doñana and I was privileged to participate in the programme with a team of Spanish ornithologists for a couple of weeks this Autumn. The Coto Doñana is an area of marshes ("marismas") in the delta of the River Gualdalquivir in Andalusia, Spain. Now a National Park, it is recognised as one of the most important wetland habitats in Europe and where countless waterfowl and wading birds, and other wildlife breed.

Moreover, the area is of crucial importance as a final stopover and "fattening-up" location for migrant birds as they refuel to make their make their way across the sea and the Sahara desert on their way to their wintering grounds in southern Africa.

Sunrise over the marismas, when our day's work began

The sun burns off the early morning mist... reveal our village of El Rocio across the marismas (Can you spot the Cattle Egret among the feet of the horses?)

The field station, set among the umbrella-pines,
is constructed according to traditional methods

Birds are captured in mist nets like this set among the tamarisks...

...and are processed at the field station. Here, Maalie measures the wing...

...of a female Blackcap (yes, the female Blackcap's "cap" is brown!

Neus meticulously records every detail

A curious Hoopoe looks on

This is the first post of several about my visit to Spain. I will show pictures of individual birds species the we caught in due course.


Blogger lorenzothellama said...

Yes! I saw the cattle egret!

2:17 pm  
Blogger willow said...

Fascinating post. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your travels to Spain.

(The last waltz is yours, kind sir.)

5:09 pm  
Blogger Charles Gramlich said...

Interesting. That Hoopoe is quite the bird.

5:21 pm  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

Greetings Maalie. That sunrise over the marshes is gorgeous. And that Hoopoe is an interesting-looking bird. Do you get to enjoy Spanish cooking on these expeditions?

5:31 pm  
Blogger simon said...

Absolutely brilliant post mate- very educational. look forward to the next

9:22 pm  
Blogger Ellee Seymour said...

I don't think I could hold a bird steady enough to measure it like this. You must have a very gentle touch.

We will soon have our migratory birds arrive in Welney too.

9:23 pm  
Blogger Shrinky said...

These are wonderful photographs, and what an adventure - you sure do get around some! I am awed at the distances these little creatures cover, it defies all logic, doesn't it?

12:28 pm  
Blogger Yoli said...

Beautiful, as a bird lover I really appreciate this.

5:37 pm  
Blogger willow said...

Dear Mr. Maalie, where are you? The ball is nearly over and I am saving the last waltz for you!

2:45 am  
Blogger Magdalene said...

Great to see you're still out there doing your thing and supplying the world with lovely photos.

3:32 pm  
Blogger Magdalene said...

...and I've just noticed your female blackcap photo, which is great, as I've had a female blackcap in my garden all summer, making a right racket as she forages in the overgrown patch below my window.

Check out the rare bird on my new post.

6:40 pm  

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