October 2017 Sightings

31 Oct:  Levanter cloud over the town and harbour, with a moderate easterly wind. There were 2 Booted Eagles hunting over the Rock in the morning.  Finch passage was significant in the early morning, with many flocks of Serins, Siskins, Greenfinches and a few Linnets

Another Brambling was trapped and ringed at the Observatory, together with good numbers of Serins and a Siskin.  A total 93 new birds were ringed and included a Swallow, 7 Robins, 8 Black Redstarts, a Sardinian Warbler, 26 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, the Brambling, 24 Serins, 21 Greenfinches, a Goldfinch and a Siskin.

 

Juvenile male Brambling at the Observatory.  A rare migrant finch.

 

Siskin & Serin

Siskin (left) and Serin (right) for comparison.  Note the Siskin's conical bill, and the short stumpy bill of the Serin.

The Dartford Warbler was seen close to the pond nets, but was not trapped.

30 Oct:  Heavy levanter cloud over the Rock, lifting by mid morning. Sunny during the afternoon. Winds a light easterly.  At the observatory a total of 93 new birds were ringed and included 3 Meadow Pipits, 12 Robins, 14 Black Redstarts, 2 Song Thrushes, a Sardinian Warbler, a very late Garden Warbler, 25 Blackcaps, 6 Chiffchaffs, 17 Serins, 9 Greenfinches, 2 Goldfinches and a Siskin.

Finch passage continued throughout the early morning with many flocks of  GreenfinchesSerins and Siskin,and some Goldfinches and a few Meadow Pipits.  There was a Dartford Warbler present near the Observatory.

 

29 Oct:  Levanter cloud over the Rock with a moderate easterly wind, becoming cloudier mid morning.  At the Observatory a total of 107 new birds were ringed and included a Swallow, 14 Robins, 12 Black Redstarts, 4 Song Thrushes, the second ever Mistle Thrush ringed, 28 Blackcaps, 3 Chiffchaffs, a Chaffinch, 20 Serins, 14 Greenfinches, 5 Goldfinches and 4 Siskins

Mistle Thrush.  Only the second  ringed at the Observatory, and both this autumn. (M. Ashman).

Six Booted Eagles were seen over the Rock.

At Europa Point a flock of 26 Scopoli's Shearwaters flew west out of the Mediterranean.  At least 45 Black-headed Gulls were resting on the cliff at Europa Point.

 

28 Oct:  Heavy fog from the east covered much of the lower Rock, town and harbour, clearing by mid morning.  Some levanter cloud begun to form after winds freshened, but sunny spells during the afternoon and evening.  Winds light to moderate easterly.  The fog brought a small fall of migrants with 170 new birds ringed using only the top 6 nets and the pond nets.  These included a Crag Martin, 9 Robins, 29 Black Redstarts, 2 Song Thrushes, 2 Sardinian Warblers, 63 Blackcaps, 18 Chiffchaffs, a smart male Brambling, 24 Serins and 21 Greenfinches.

Heavy passage of finches with Greenfinches, Serins and Siskin flocks moving south with a few flocks of Goldfinches and some Meadow Pipits.A light-phase Booted Eagle was hunting around the Observatory, and was joined after midday by 9 other birds.

 

27 Oct:  Fresh easterly winds with levanter cloud over the town and harbour.  At the Observatory a total of 100 new birds were ringed and included a Little Owl, 3 Swallows, 3 Robins, 18 Black Redstarts, a Song Thrush, a Sardinian Warbler, 22 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, a Chaffinch, 24 Serins, 23 Greenfinches and 2 Goldfinches.

A dead Barn Owl was found in town, behind the Cathedral.  It had been disposed in a rubbish Bin, and photographed.  Attempts to recover the body for analysis were not fruitful, and the bird was not recovered.

 

Little Owl ringed at the Observatory. (S. Warr).

 

 

Dead Barn Owl in rubbish Bin.  (M. Villa)

 

26 Oct:  Levanter cloud over the town and harbour with gusty fresh easterly winds.  A total of 85 new birds were trapped and ringed at the Observatory and included 7 Robins, 13 Black Redstarts, 2 Song Thrushes, a Sardinian Warbler, 37 Blackcaps, 8 Chiffchaffs, a House Sparrow, 3 Chaffinches, 6 Serins, 5 Greenfinches and 2 Goldfinches.

 The Tawny Owl was again heard in the vicinity of the Observatory and the Mount Gardens.

25 Oct: A mostly cloudy day with gentle to moderate easterly winds. 120 new birds ringed at the Observatory today with the first 2 Siskins of the year. Also ringed were 15 Robins, 35 Black Redstarts, single Blackbird, Song Thrush, Sardinian Warbler, 40 Blackcaps, 4 Chiffchaffs, 6 Serins, 10 Greenfinches and 5 Goldfinches.

 The Tawny Owl was heard in the vicinity of the Observatory.

24 Oct: Heavy levanter over the Rock this morning. Moderate to fresh easterly. A Common Buzzard seen over the Upper Rock this am and a Stone Curlew was seen by the Gull Team at Princess Caroline's Battery. In the afternoon, a Dartford Warbler was seen in the planters at Westview Park.

At the Observatory 85 birds were ringed, and included 9 Robins, 20 Black Redstarts, 2 Song Thrushes, a Sardinian Warbler, 32 Blackcaps, 8 Chiffchaffs, a Serin, 6 Greenfinches and 6 Goldfinches.

A Tawny Owl responded to playback near the Mount Gardens and landed on a tree nearby.

Tawny Owl.  (J. Sanchez)

23 Oct: Another productive day at the Observatory with 170 new birds ringed that included a Swallow, 25 Robins, 31 Black Redstarts, a Ring Ouzel, a Blackbird, a Garden Warbler, 77 Blackcaps, 20 Chiffchaffs, a Blue Tit, 3 Chaffinches, 2 Serins, and 7 Greenfinches.

 

22 Oct: A warm, sunny poniente day. Light Westerly settling to Easterly by lunchtime with the return of levanter cloud around 4pm. A productive day at the Observatory with 175 new birds ringed including 46 Robins, 26 Black Redstarts, 2 Blackbirds, 2 Song Thrushes, a Dartford Warbler.7 Sardinian Warblers, 74 Blackcaps, 11 Chiffchaffs, single Chaffinch and Serin and 4 Greenfinches.

A Woodpigeon was seen flying over the East side talus in the afternoon.

 21 Oct:  Light westerly with some fog in the morning from the east giving clear skies later.  Winds light westerly.  At the Observatory a total of 203 new birds were ringed and included 69 Robins, 25 Black Redstarts, single Blackbird and Song Thrush, 6 Sardinian Warbler, a late Garden Warbler, 74 Blackcaps, 5 Chiffchaffs, 2 Blue Tits, 4 Chaffinches, 8 Serins and 7 Greenfinches.

20 Oct: A clear, sunny day with light to moderate westerly wind. A total of 78 new birds were ringed and included a Scops Owl, a European Nightjar, 10 Robins, 13 Black Redstarts, 5 Song Thrushes, a Sardinian Warbler, 31 Blackcaps, 6 Chiffchaffs, 4 Serins, and 6 Greenfinches.

Scops Owl, a common migrant night bird. (M. Ashman).

Two Spotted Flycatchers were seen at the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens; a very late record for this species.  100+ Griffon Vultures were seen heading our north over the Bay at midday. Two Booted Eagles were over the ridge of the Rock as well.One Black Stork seen flying over the east side reclamation.

 

19 Oct:  Clear skies with a moderate westerly wind.   At the Observatory 44 new birds were ringed and included a Meadow Pipit, 3 Robins, a Black Redstart, a Blackbird, 15 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, a Blue Tit, 4 Serins, 16 Greenfinches and a Linnet.

 

18 Oct: Heavy rains during the morning. Winds WSW.   Adverse weather conditions prevented the ringing campaign at the Observatory, and only 7 new birds were ringed that included a Robin and 6 Blackcaps.

A Spotted Flycatcher was seen in the Botanic Gardens. It is unusually late for these birds to still be around.

 

17 Oct: Heavy levanter cloud over the Rock all day. Short-eared Owl seen at Middle Hill.

At the Observatory 199 new birds were ringed including a  juvenile female Sparrowhawk, 3 Crag Martins, 5 Swallows, 14 Robins,  12 Black Redstarts, a Common Redstart, a Blackbird, 2 Song Thrushes, 2 Sardinian Warblers, 142 Blackcaps, 5 Chiffchaffs, 4 Willow Warblers, 2 Blue Tits, a Serin and 4 Greenfinches.

Two Tawny Owls were heard calling in the Jews' Gate area and 2 Ravens were seen mobbing a Booted Eagle during the afternoon.

 

16 Oct: Ninety-four new birds were ringed at the Observatory including 2 Common Nightjars, a Crag Martin (the first individual for this autumn) , 10 Barn Swallows, 4 Robins, a Black Redstart, a Common Redstart, a Blackbird, 5 Sardinian Warblers, 57 Blackcaps, 3 Chiffchaffs, 5 Serins, 2 Greenfinches, a Kingfisher (the fifth ever ringed at Jews' Gate and the first in 5 years),  and a  Mistle Thrush,  the first one ringed in Gibraltar.

 

15 Oct:  Heavy levanter cloud over the Rock with some sunny spells away from the Rock.  Winds moderate to fresh easterly.  A total of 126 new birds were ringed at the Observatory and included 3 European Nightjars, 7 Swallows, a Red-rumped Swallow, 7 Robins, a Black Redstart, 2 Blackbirds, 3 Song Thrushes, 3 Sardinian Warbler, 90 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, an Iberian Chiffchaff, a Pied Flycatcher, a Blue Tit and 4 Greenfinches.

 

 

14 Oct:  Heavy fog from the east covered the area in the early morning, dissipating mid morning, followed by clear skies throughout the day.  Winds a light easterly.  At the Observatory it was a very busy morning, no doubt due to the fog, with a total of 239 new birds ringed.  These included 2 European Nightjars, 13 Robins, a Common Redstart, a Blackbird, 10 Song Thrushes, 6 Sardinian Warblers, 193 Blackcaps, 5 Chiffchaffs, a Willow warbler, 4 Pied Flycatchers, a Common Starling ( the first ringed at the Observatory) and 2 Greenfinches.

 

At Europa Point 50 Black-headed Gulls were resting on the cliff together with a second-year Mediterranean Gull.  Offshore at least 300 Cory's Shearwaters ere feeding on flying fish , with Blue-fin Tuna jumping out of the water, chasing the fish.  A few Gannets were seen with them.  Two Cormorants landed below the Point to feed.  There was an Oystercatcher and 5 Ruddy Turnstones feeding on the exposed rocks at Europa foreshore.

 

At least 20 Booted Eagles were soaring over the Rock.  Seven Shags and 3 Cormorants were present on the rocks at Little Bay.

 

13 Oct:  High westerly cloud over the area with sunny spells and a light easterly wind. Blackcaps continued to dominate the catch at the Observatory with 104 new birds ringed.  Also ringed were single Scops Owl, European Nightjar, 3 Swallows, 4 Robins, a Nightingale, the first Black Redstart of the season, a Ring Ouzel, 2 Blackbirds, 2 Song Thrushes, 3 Sardinian Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, a Blue Tit, a Serin and a Greenfinch.

 

12 Oct:  Levanter cloud thinning over the Rock. Sunny throughout the day.  Winds light easterly.  Numbers of birds trapped at the Observatory dropped due to clearer weather and light winds favouring migrants overflying the site to head towards Africa.  Nevertheless 61 new birds were ringed and included a European Nightjar, 2 Scops Owls, a Swallow, 7 Robins, a Nightingale, a Song Thrush, a Reed Warbler, a Subalpine Warbler, 2 Sardinian Warblers, a Garden Warbler, 36 Blackcaps, 5 Chiffchaffs, a Chaffinch and a Greenfinch.

 

11 Oct:  Heavy levanter cloud and overcast in the Strait, clearing in the afternoon to give some sunshine, but by the evening, a cold air mass produced westerly cloud and some light rain. Winds moderate easterly.  A European Nightjar, a Common Redstart, a Whitethroat and a Dartford Warbler were among birds trapped at the Observatory in the first round this morning.  Also ringed were a Swallow, a Robin, another 2 Common Redstarts, 2 Blackbirds,  2 Sardinian Warblers, a Garden Warbler, 81 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, an Iberian Chiffchaff and a Pied Flycatcher, for a total of 97 new birds ringed.  Also re-trapped were 3 Blackbirds, a Wryneck, and a Blackcap

 

10 Oct:  Levanter cloud over the Rock, town and harbour.  Winds light to moderate easterly.  At first light 2 European Nightjars were captured at the Observatory.  Also ringed were 8 Swallows, 4 Robins, 2 Blackbirds, a Song Thrush, 2 Sardinian Warblers, a Garden Warbler, 92 Blackcaps, 5 Chiffchaffs, a Willow Warbler, 2 Blue Tits and 2 Greenfinches, for a total of 122 new birds.

At midday a Black Kite, Booted Eagle and an Osprey were soaring over the Rock.

 

09 Oct:  Levanter cloud over the Rock lifting by mid morning with a moderate to light easterly wind.  At Middle Hill the ringing team had the last full day with a total of 171 new birds for the day.  These included a Sparrowhawk, 3 Robins, a Common Redstart, 5 Garden Warblers, 151 Blackcaps, a Whitethroat, a Sardinian Warbler, 4 Chiffchaffs, 2 Iberian Chiffchaffs, a Pied Flycatcher and a Greenfinch.  The total number of new birds ringed at Middle Hill for the two week period was 1366 birds, together with 27 retraps, of which three birds were contorlled, with 2 Blackcaps from the UK and another from Belgium.  A full report together with photographs will be published shortly.

At the Observatory, Blackcaps again dominated the catch with 121 birds ringed.  Also trapped were a Scops Owl, 3 Swallows, 6 Robins, a Blackbird, 5 Sardinian Warbler, 4 Garden Warblers, a Willow Warbler, 2 Pied Flycatchers, a Blue Tit and a Serin, for a total of 146 new birds ringed.

By mid morning 15 Booted Eagles, a Short-toed Eagle and a Common Buzzard flew close to the Observatory.  A Song Thrush and a Chaffinch was observed in the Botanic Gardens in the afternoon. 

 

08 Oct:  Levanter cloud over the Rock, town and harbour throughout the day with some sunny spells in the late afternoon and evening.  Winds moderate easterly.  At the Observatory a total of 90 new birds were ringed and included a Scops Owl, 2 Swallows, 9 Robins, 2 Blackbirds, 2 Song Thrushes, 8 Sardinian Warblers, 2 Garden Warblers, 59 Blackcaps, 2 Chiffchaffs, 2 Pied Flycatchers and a Greenfinch.

The ringing group at the Middle hill site ringed 125 new birds that included a Sparrowhawk, 10 Robins, a Garden Warbler, 106 Blackcaps, 3 Chiffchaffs, 2 Iberian Chiffchaffs and 2 Pied Flycatchers.

 

07 Oct:  The night was clear until midnight but by first light a heavy levanter cloud lingered over the Rock, with moderate easterly winds.  The Eurobirdwatch ringing session at the Botanic Gardens was affected by blustery conditions.  Nevertheless 13 birds were trapped and included 2 Reed Warblers, 2 Blackbirds, 2 Blackcaps, a Pied Flycatcher, a Sardinian Warbler, and 5 House Sparrows.  During the morning we saw an immense flock of hirundines over the Rock with an estimate count of at least over 1000 birds that included Barn Swallows, Red-rumped Swallows, House Martins and Crag Martins.  Several smaller flocks of Crag Martins were seen mid morning.  Also recorded were the 2 Ravens, at least 10 Sparrowhawks a male Hen Harrier and a Black Stork.  There were several Robins heard in the gardens as well as 2 Iberian Chiffchaffs.

The Observatory site was sheltered and produced 144 new birds ringed, including a Red-necked Nightjar, 4 Swallows, 6 Robins, 3 Common Redstarts, a Blackbird, 2 Reed Warblers, 3 Sardinian Warblers, 95 Blackcaps, 7 Chiffchaffs, 3 Willow Warblers, 16 Pied Flycatchers and a Blue Tit.  At the Middle Hill site, a total of 86 new birds were ringed and included a Red-necked Nightjar, a Robin, 3 Common Redstarts, 4 Garden Warblers, 73 Blackcaps, 2 Sardinian Warblers and 2 Pied Flycatchers.

 

Red-necked Nightjar

An hours visit to Europa Point in the afternoon saw a feeding frenzy of Cory's Shearwaters, Yellow-legged Gulls, some Gannets and Common Dolphins.  Also recorded were  3 Cormorants, 15 Gannets, 200 Cory's Shearwaters, 9 Mediterranean Gulls, and 28 Black-headed Gulls.  A Kingfisher was seen near the GASA site in the harbour.

 

06 Oct:  Clear skies with light variable first thing in the morning, with a light easterly and levanter cloud forming over the Rock until mid morning when it dissipated.  At the Observatory a total of 139 new birds were ringed and included a Sparrowhawk, a European Nightjar, 12 Swallows, 7 Robins, a Common Redstart, 3 Blackbirds, a Grasshopper Warbler, a Reed Warbler, 3 Sardinian Warblers, 2 Garden Warblers, 100 Blackcaps, a Pied Flycatcher, a Serin and a Greenfinch.  By mid morning 28 Booted Eagles, 6 Egyptian Vultures, a Short-toed Eagle and several Sparrowhawks begun to fly over the Rock from across the Bay.

A good fall of Blackcaps was evident at the Middle Hill site with a total of 232 new birds ringed and included a Sparrowhawk, a Scops Owl, 2 Robins, a Common Redstart, 8 Garden Warblers, 206 Blackcaps, 2 Sardinian Warblers, 2 Willow Warblers, 2 Chiffchaffs, 6 Pied Flycatchers and 2 Blue Tits.

 

05 Oct:  Levanter cloud over the Rock, town and harbour with blustery fresh easterly winds.  Two Pied Flycatchers, a Grey Wagtail and a White Wagtail were seen around the Botanic Gardens.  At the Observatory windy conditions affected the catching rate and only 39 new birds were ringed.  These included a Common Nightjar, 2 Robins, 2 Sardinian Warblers, a Whitethroat, a Garden Warbler and 31 Blackcaps.

Only 68 new birds were ringed by the Middle Hill ringing team and included a European Nightjar, a Wryneck, 6 Robins, a Common Redstart, 4 Blackbirds, a Garden Warbler, 46 Blackcaps, a Sardinian Warbler, 2 Willow Warblers, 2 Iberian Chiffchaffs, a Wren and 2 Pied Flycatchers.

 

04 Oct:  Levanter cloud over the Rock throughout the day with a gusty fresh easterly wind.  The Middle Hill ringing team ringed a total of 84 new birds that included a Sparrowhawk, 2 Robin a, single Common Redstart and Song Thrush, 4 Blackbirds 2 Garden Warblers, 67 Blackcaps, 2 Sardinian Warblers and single Chiffchaff, Iberian Chiffchaff, Wren and Blue Tit.  At the Observatory a total of 87 new birds were ringed and included a Red-necked Nightjar,, 3 Robins, a Stonechat, 3 Blackbirds, 4 Sardinian Warblers, a Garden Warbler, 72 Blackcaps, an Iberian Chiffchaff, a Pied Flycatcher and a Greenfinch.  There were three retraps and included a Wryneck that was re-trapped back in February 2017 and had a normal lower mandible, and when it was retrapped today the lower mandible had grown 5.1mm longer than the upper mandible.

The Ravens were observed around the Nature Reserve.  It is hoped that they settle and breed next year, after the demise of the last breeding pair several years ago.

 

03 Oct:  Levanter cloud over the Rock, town and harbour with sunny spells in the late afternoon.  Winds fresh and blustery easterly.  The Middle Hill ringing team processed a total of only 42 birds in blustery conditions.  It included Collared Dove, a Red-necked Nightjar, 4 Robins, a Blackbird, the first Song Thrush of the season, a Garden Warbler, 26 Blackcaps, single Sardinian Warbler, Willow Warbler, Iberian Chiffchaff, Pied Flycatcher and 3 Blue Tits.

At the Observatory a total of 62 new birds were processed and included a European Nightjar, 2 Robins, 2 Common Redstarts, 4 Blackbirds, a Song Thrush, 6 Sardinian Warblers, 35 Blackcaps, 9 Blue Tits and 2 Greenfinches.

An Iberian Chiffchaff and Bee-eaters were heard from Bruce's farm in the early morning, and a Hoopoe was seen in the area of the Observatory.

 

2 Oct:  Cloudy conditions with levanter cloud over the Rock with sunny spells by mid afternoon.  Winds moderate to fresh easterly.  The Middle Hill ringing team processed a total of 124 new birds and included 2 Sparrowhawks, a Collared Dove, 6 Robins, 3 Common Redstarts, 2 Blackbirds, a Subalpine Warbler, 2 Sardinian Warblers, 100 Blackcaps, an Iberian Chiffchaff, 3 Pied Flycatchers, a Blue Tit and 2 Greenfinches.

At the Observatory 86 new birds were processed with a European Nightjar, a Robin, 2 Stonechats, 8 Blackbirds, 4 Sardinian Warblers, a Garden Warbler, 57 Blackcaps, a Willow Warbler, a Pied Flycatcher, 3 Blue Tits, a Short-toed Treecreeper and 6 Greenfinches.

The two Ravens were seen flying around top Cable car Station.

 

1 Oct:  Heavy levanter cloud over the Rock in the morning in fresh easterly winds, with sunny spells in the afternoon.  Seawatching at Europa Point for the first leg of our EuroBirdwatch 2017 events was productive, with over 300 Cory’s Shearwaters feeding off the point.  These were chasing flying fish in association with Common Dolphins and Bluefin Tuna.  They were joined by a small number of Scopoli’s Shearwaters (3 or 4 identified positively), 4 Balearic Shearwaters and a Great Shearwater that gave good views, sitting on the sea close to the point before flying away.  There was a small passage of Sandwich Terns, with 10 birds flying west and 2 joining a flock of 20 Black-headed Gulls below the point, where a Great Cormorant was fishing.  A Common Tern and 3 Audouin’s Gulls (2 adults and a juvenile) also flew west.  Passage of Northern Gannets into the Mediterranean involved 11 adults and 2 2nd year birds.  4 Great Skuas were active in the area, often chasing Cory’s Shearwaters.  A dark-phase Arctic Skua chased a Sandwich Tern until the latter dropped its prey.  A Whimbrel and 2 Common Sandpipers were seen below the point.  One of the resident Peregrines flew in from the Strait carrying a large prey item that could have been a wader.

The Observatory had another good trapping session in the morning with a total of 116 new birds ringed and included a Pallid Swift, a Swallow, 5 Robins, 2 Common Redstarts, 8 Blackbirds, 6 Sardinian Warblers, 2 Garden Warblers, 83 Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, 4 Pied Flycatchers, 2 Blue Tits and a Greenfinch.

At Middle Hill the ringing team there were also successful with a total of 125 new birds ringed that included a Scops Owl, a Robin, 3 Blackbirds, 3 Sardinian Warblers, 7 Garden Warblers, 107 Blackcaps, 2 Pied Flycatchers and a Greenfinch.

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