Her på Skagen Fuglestations blog bringes korte nyheder i dagbogsformat om hændelser på fuglestationen.
In the summertime
Together with Frank, who arrived last night and will strengthen our crew in the coming weeks, Robbie, Max and Simon went to cable drums for ringing. The Bergenhusen crew supported us again with the ringing. Knud, meanwhile, sat at Worlds End 3, his sharp eyes fixed on the sea for the Morning Observations. Early in the morning, mild temperatures indicated that it would be a sunny and summery day. Often such days are not very spectacular bird-wise, but some birds still found their way into the net. Black Redstart (Huusrødstjert) is a rather irregular guest in Grenen, usually found more in the built-up area. A Pied Flycatcher (Broget Fluesnapper) already announces autumn, you might say.
When ringing, you sometimes see much earlier that the seasons are changing, suddenly the species composition changes completely within a few days and you notice that something has just arrived. In August, many songbirds migrate rather inconspicuously, but when ringing you usually notice that something is happening quite soon.
Otherwise it was a quiet, sunny day for all of us. Many other people here in Skagen also enjoy it, as the large streams of tourists, cars and caravans indicate. Meanwhile, one of the huge cruise ships arrives in the harbour every day and floods the town with tourists. This is certainly not the most sustainable kind of tourism, but Skagen seems to be a real cruise destination.
People: Max Laubstein, Robbie Lawler, Frank Osterberg, Manuel Tacke, Simon Christiansen, with help from Dorothea Engert, Lina Kotschi & Joel Münch.
Birds in the dark
It was yet another day without ringing, this time due to last night’s activities. It is the season to be excited as we are trying for Storm Petrels (Stormsvale). The mist nets were set up on the beach and we had calls blasting out to sea, but alas there was no catch. We did however see Storm Petrels around the nets (here), the question remains can you count a bird seen through a night-vision camera as a lifer? It is no worries as we will be trying again this weekend, hopefully with a little more success.
Today Manual and I went out to the World’s End for observations. The migration hasn’t hit its peak yet but we were treated to some good views of Black guillemot (Tejst), Arctic Skua (Almindelig Kjove), and several migrating Golden plovers (Hjejle). We are hoping the migration picks up soon. The local birds gave a good show today, with a Red-backed Shrike (Rødrygget Tornskade) showing well just outside the lighthouse.
Simon took the guests to Cormorant Lake today to check out an area for ringing and give an informal tour. One nest still had a chick left to fledge.
Frank joins us on the team today, which takes us up to four volunteers. He, unfortunately, ruined the pattern of each volunteer coming from a different country, but I suppose another Englishman is okay.
People: Max Laubstein, Robbie Lawler, Manuel Tacke, Lisa Vergin, Simon Christiansen, Dorothea Engert, Lina Kotschi, Joel Münch and Frank Osterberg.
Today Robbie, myself, and Manuel (who arrived last night) split up for the day's field work. Robbie and I left for Kabeltromeln to ring at 4:15 am, while Manuel made it to World's End 3 by sunrise at 5:25 for a seawatch. The ringing this morning was quite productive, a high proportion of migrants amongst the regular assortment of local breeders. Unquestionably, highlights were a fieldfare (sjagger), barn swallow (landsvale), and 2 first year common redstarts (rødstjert). While barn swallow is among the most commonly-seen species in the area (and across the world, for that matter), they don't often swoop low enough to be caught in the mist nets, making today's capture special.
Barn Swallow (Landsvale)
Fieldfare is a species that primarily breeds further north in Norway, Sweden, Finland, etc. Over the past 2 centuries their range has undergone many expansions throughout Europe however, and they were first recorded breeding in Denmark in 1960. Today's first year bird was most likely hatched elsewhere, making its way to wintering grounds here in Denmark or further south in Europe.
Common Redstart is a species that does breed nearby, but given we haven't caught any juveniles at KAB this season, and that autumn migration has begun, it's very likely our 2 birds today were migrants. The nominate phoenicurus subspecies of common redstart which breeds here in Europe, NW Africa, and Siberia, is a long-distance migrant, spending the non-breeding season in the northern hemispheric Afrotropics. We wish these two the best of luck on their journey south.
First year female common redstart.
Additionally, the male redstart showed a great example of a postjuvenile or formative molt limit, which is something that we will look for a lot further into autumn and before the next breeding season in order to age young birds a few months after they've hatched. For many birds, there's significant selective pressure for juveniles to grow their first set of feathers at once and rapidly, in order to leave the nest as soon as possible and avoid predation in the nest. Similarly, with a shorter need for parental care, there's a greater chance adults can produce a second brood. The tradeoff for a rapid, complete, and simultaneous prejuvenile molt is poor feather quality; juvenile feathers are often more susceptible to wear than adult feathers. So, many species have a partial molt as juveniles, called a postjuvenile or preformative molt to replace some of the poor quality juvenile feathers with more resilient adult-like feathers. In the photo below, you can see the young male redstart has done just this, with the replaced inner greater covert (and many body feathers) being newer, fresher, and grey in coloration, as opposed to the juvenile brown.
Meanwhile, Manuel over at World's End 3 had a decent day at the seawatch, with highlights being 2 dark morph Arctic skuas (almindelig kjove) chasing down terns together over the beach at Grenen, a great skua (storkjove) offshore, as well as some northern fulmars (mallemuk) migrating in the distance.
Tonight, we will attempt to catch some European storm-petrels (lille stormsvale) on the beach near the lighthouse. Wish us luck! We will post tomorrow if we are successful.
Ringing totals at Kabeltromeln:
Gransanger (Common Chiffchaff): 3
Lille Dompap (Eurasian Bullfinch): 1
Tornsanger (Common Whitethroat): 5
Munk (Eurasian Blackcap): 2
Landsvale (Barn Swallow): 1
Jernspurv (Dunnock): 1
Lille Gråsisken (Lesser Redpoll): 1
Musvit (Great Tit): 1
Sjagger (Fieldfare): 1
Gærdesanger (Lesser Whitethroat): 7
Kærsanger (Marsh Warbler): 2
Rørsanger (Eurasian Reed Warbler): 1
Rødstjert (Common Redstart): 2
Løvsanger (Willow Warbler): 14
People: Max Laubstein, Robbie Lawler, Manuel Tacke, Lisa Vergin, Simon Christiansen, Dorothea Engert, Lina Kotschi, Joel Münch
An aerial displaying Arctic skua
It was yet another day without ringing today, though the conditions would have not been favorable. Instead, all the volunteers decided to have a joint effort with the observations. We were treated with some great views of an immature Artic skua (Almindelig Kjove), which is presumably the same bird that has been hunting close to shore for a few days now. This dark morph individual is really giving the local terns (ternes) some issues and it is always a pleasure to watch. Beyond the Skua we didn’t have many notable species, though a molting Black guillemot (Tejst) was an interesting sight. The roosting terns had been joined by greater numbers of Sandwich terns (Splitterne), which was some added variation. The sea was relatively empty in terms of migration with a few Fulmars (Mallemuk) being the highlight.
A common Lizard in the sun
Alice left us today and it is sad to see her go, though as with many volunteers here at Skagen she will most likely return. Speaking of returning volunteers - we are rejoined by Manuel today - thus the station maintains three volunteers from three countries.
Beyond the observations not much happened at the station today. Max made good progress with processing a nocturnal migration recording, and the results will appear on Trektellen soon enough: watch this space.
People: Alice Scalzo, Robbie Lawler, Max Laubstein, and Manuel.
Sunrise over the Gannets
This morning Robbie, Max, and I walked all the way to the tip for morning observations. The sun rose slowly as we looked upon the sea. We got nice sightings of a dark morph Arctic skua (Almindelig Kjove), a few waders passed by, and there was many Gannets (Sule) fishing in front of us.
People: Alice Scalzo, Max Laubstein, Robbie Lawler, and our guests Margit and Jesper.
Farewell Skagen !
Today was my last day in Skagen. It started with a morning of observations at the tip of the beach. We had a great view of Arctic Skua chasing gulls and terns above the water. We also spotted a Caspian Tern roosting in the middle of the flock.
Arctic Skua flying above the beach
It was also Benjamin last day with us; We all hope he comes back as a volunteer for the Fuglestation in a couple of years.
Unfortunately, it was also my last day here.. I learned a lot when it comes to ringing, identifing and aging birds or seawatching. I want to thank every volunteers I have worked with here, who are amazing people but also the amazing birder community of Skagen that supported us through this month.
I really hope I'll be back soon to see even more of that amazing region.
Take care Skagen !
People: Alice Scalzo, Robbie Lawler, Nathan Delmas, Max Laubstein, Benjamin Bech, Peter Kristensen, Knud Pederson, and our guests Margit and Jesper.
A wader and a wave goodbye to ringing
This is my first blog since Last November and it’s great to be back here in somewhat sunny Skagen. The last time I stepped foot in Skagen it was snowing/sleeting, and the streets were relatively empty. I was greeted by bustling streets and the calls of summer species when I arrived at the station a few days ago. Some things stay the same and some change and unfortunately just as last time there I was here there is yet another immediate threat to seabird populations in Northern Europe. In Autumn 2021 there was an Auk wreck in Britain and other areas of Northern Europe, which we saw arrive on the shore on Skagen through an unusually high number of dead Razorbills (Alks) and Guillemots (Lomvies); this issue is largely thought to be caused by a decline of certain prey species and possibly linked with climate change. The threat today is bird flu, which is less obviously connected to the degradation of ecosystems but has still nonetheless been exacerbated by human activity. I will write more about this in time here but hopefully, we don’t see the beaches fill with a high number of infected birds.
Today Oluf oversaw the ringing and whilst we weren’t inundated with high numbers, we did see an increase on the past few days and were treated to a Green Sandpiper (Svaleklire).
Today was most probably Nathan’s and Alice’s last ringing session due to poor weather conditions and Simon being away for a couple of days, The ringing today encompassed therefore some farewells; our loss is someone else’s gain. Benjamin joined us again today and was excited to see the Green Sandpiper (Svaleklire) up close.
Max sat at World’s End staring out to see and managed to spot a Black-throated diver and a Great White Egret. Several egret species have greatly expanded their range and numbers in many parts of Europe in recent decades and it is probable that such birds will become a much less notable occurrence here in Skagen in comings years.
Apologies for the late upload, I had some technical difficulties.
Birds ringed at Kabeltromeln:
Lille Gråsisken 2
People: Alice Scalzo, Robbie Lawler, Nathan Delmas, Max Laubstein, Benjamin Bech, Peter Kristensen, Oluf Lou, and our guests Margit and Jesper.
Skua Score, a Mawing Magpie, and Motus Maintenance
The events of today's blog began as the clock struck midnight, while Robbie and I scanned the beaches of Grenen in the dark in an attempt to find (and capture) roosting shorebirds. While our attempts were in vain, we did manage to see several of the common ringed-plover chicks (stor praestekrave) which we ringed several weeks ago roaming the beach in the dark.
A short few hours after our return to the lighthouse, the sun began its ascent towards the horizon, and Alice and Robbie left to open the nets for a morning of ringing, and Nathan left for World's End 3 to conduct a seawatch, where he was joined by Benjamin. Undoubtedly, the highlight of the morning's field work was a long-tailed skua (lille kjove) spotted by Benjamin and Nathan! This makes the second sighting of this uncommon species here at Skagen in the past few weeks. Long-tailed skuas breed in the high Arctic and spend the non-breeding portion of the year in the open oceans of the Southern hemisphere. They typically don't pass through Denmark as they make the autumn journey South, so this is quite a noteable observation. Large numbers of long-tailed skuas were observed in Skagen one autumn in the late 1980's, putatively attributed to poor productivity on the breeding grounds. As for our two sightings so far this year, whether they can be explained by some systematic phenomenon further North, or simply randomness, is yet to be determined; we'll keep an eye out for more!
After the morning's fieldwork, we received a call from Lisa that she had captured a magpie (huskkade), which she brought to the fuglestation so it could be ringed. It was a treat to inspect the incredible irridescence of the magpie up close, and it put that classically snarky magpie persona on display by constantly biting its handler.
Peter Kristensen then joined Simon, Nathan, and I on a visit to get our local Motus tower back in working order. Motus is an international network of radio telemetry towers that can detect birds carrying transmitters as they migrate by. Today, we installed an extra transmitter on the tower (and a solar panel to power it) so that data collected at the tower can be wirelessly sent to us at the fuglestation for analysis. Projects like Motus generate incredibly valuable data for understanding where, when, and how birds migrate, which can correspondingly be used to predict the impacts of anthropogenic environmental changes on migration, and advance theories in migration ecology, among other things.
The Motus tower (Photo: Nathan)
Overall, it was quite a productive day!
Birds ringed at Kabeltromeln
Garden warbler (Havesanger): 2
Common whitethroat (Tornsanger): 2
Eurasian blackcap (Munk): 1
Birds ringed at Fyrhaven
Eurasian magpie (Huskkade): 1
A few birds and a new/old volunteer
A night full of surprises !
Hello everyone !
Very early this morning, and thanks to Alice's efforts, we caught 2 Red Knots on the beach near the lighthouse ! It was very exciting for everyone to be able to see from so close a bird we are used to see through the scope.
A Red Knot ringed by Skagen Fuglestation (Max)
Soon after, Martina and I went to open the nets while Max went observing on the beach. Simon joined later accompanied by Benjamin who is going to help us during this week. Benjamin is 13 years old danish boy who has been introduced to birding by his uncle and wanted to learn more about ringing with us. We managed to catch and ring a beautiful spotted flycatcher ! A bit later, Alice joined to help us despite the fact that she worked all night.
A spotted flycatcher (Nathan)
After that, we went back to the station and it was time for Martina to pack her bag and go back to Germany to prepare her classes. We deeply thank her for all the work she has done for the Fuglestation and also for all the valuable knowledge she transmitted to other volunteers.
That is it for today, we wish you a great evening and we will see each other tomorrow for more exciting news about birds !
Munk (Blackcap) 2
Løvsanger (Willow Warbler) 1
Tornsanger (Common Whitethroat) 4
Grå Fluesnapper (Spotted Flycatcher) 1
Ringing (Stranden Det Grå Fyr):
Islandsk Ryle (Red knot) 2
People: Alice Scalzo, Nathan Delmas, Max Laubstein, Martina Hillbrand, Simon S. Christiansen, Benjamin Bech and our guests Finn and Marianne