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Last day of June
This morning Peter and I go to the beach to the north to monitor the chicks of ringed plovers and to find the terms favourite roosting spot. We observe two of the the chicks of ringed plovers that we have ringed more than two weeks ago, sandwich terns, common terns, arctic terns, gannets, eiders, great black-backed gulls, lesser black-backed gulls, herring gulls, black-headed gulls, five honey buzzards, kestrels, cormorants and various species of passerines.
In mid-morning we return to the observatory to entertain tourists and work on the PC until lunchtime.
In the afternoon, Peter stay at the observatory to work on the internal tasks, while I go out to take some photos that I need for an activity with the visitors. I go back to the observatory at 6.00 pm to prepare dinner, Italian pasta with mushrooms. After dinner we meet to plan the various activities for the next few days. We decide to go and ring Grenen tomorrow morning if the wind is not strong.
We have received a book a few days ago from the Norwegian Store Færder Fugelstajon as a gift. It celebrates 50 years of the observatories life and is a very interesting read (for those of us that can read Norwegian!)
Ringed plover adult
Dinner with Friends . .
It was a very windy morning when we awoke, putting paid to any ideas we had of ringing. So another day of admin and being ‘information kiosks’ for visitors. Before we started Michele headed to Grenen to check out the tern roosts position for possible ringing excursions in the future. As it turned out the dog walkers beat him there and the terns were not stationary when he arrived. We’ll try again tomorrow. He did find two more ringed plover chicks that were unringed so we may try and rectify that tomorrow.
It was a reasonably useful morning for me, with some computer work done and with my sign that says ‘ask me about birds’ in the birding club I managed to help a few people with inquiries and even get them into the exhibition.
Post a ‘leftover’ lunch, we had an hour or two to ourselves, before I went out for cormorant monitoring in the late afternoon. The colony is fairly dynamic now, and things have changed yet again. From one side nests appear to be emptying because chicks have fledged, and from the other it seems nests are being emptied of eggs and small chicks by a predator (can’t say fox as I’ve not seen it again since the first time). It looks to be a much more successful year for cormorant productivity this year which is great news. On the other hand the red necked grebes have completely abandoned the site, all seven of their nests disappearing within a week. The lake however is still a hive of activity, plenty of young black headed gulls (where did they come from?) greylag geese, young mallards and plenty of singing warblers.
After I returned the Friends of Skagen Bird Observatory were having a grill. It was good to catch up with some of the friends, and the members of the board, and the food was good too! Very pleasant way to finish off a hot day.
This morning Peter and I are going to ring at the CES site, we open the nets at 04:30 am. Today is a sunny day, not windy and very hot, good for the working of the mist-nets, but not good for the huge number of mosquitoes and flies! We catch a good number of breeding species, many young birds fresh from the nest. Between each net check we find the time for the maintenance of the net lane, cutting the tall grass and the shrubs. At 10.30 am, after six hours as per protocol, we close the mist-nets at CES and go back to the observatory. At 11:00 we decide to open the nets in the garden for a couple of hours, to try to catch some young crested tit, which we saw the previous day around the nets. But the weather doesn’t help us, as soon as I open the nets the wind increases considerably, and it is not good for the nets. We only take a recapture of a blackcap.
We take this time to be available to visitors to the observatory for all questions and trivia.
Peter goes to the center and I stay at the birder's club, and between each net I entertain visitors, including a family of Italians with whom I have the opportunity to freely speak my language after a month. I talk to them about the various activities of the Observatory and answer their questions. They are very surprised that I work here, they really appreciate the conversation and they compliment me, I am very pleased.
After lunch we rest for a few hours.
Later I reactivate myself to arrange and thoroughly clean the laboratory.
For dinner, Peter prepares a super minestrone, just what it takes today!
After dinner we update the databases with the data collected in the morning and we organise ourselves for the following days.
Ringed birds Recaptures
2 Blackbird. 1 whitethroat
1 Robin. 1 wren
2 Reed warbler. 1 blackcap
2 Lesser whitethroat
1 Willow warbler
1 Blue tit
5 Great tit
Grey Herons over Jennes Sø
You never forget how to fix a bike. .or apparently you do . .
The moth trap was open again last night and Simon caught another poplar hawkmoth. That was the only catch of the morning however as we were all wrapped up in computer work, entering fieldwork data, writing the diary entries and entering fieldwork data. Also, as it was a Wednesday the main task was to clean the apartment and the laboratory. With only two people this took quite a lot of time!
After cleaning, and lunch, Michele and I headed out to the CES site to make sure the nets were intact for tomorrow’s session. Unfortunately two of the panels on one net had been cut, jury’s out as to whether it was a human or animal pest that caused the damage. We repaired the damage and hoped it wasn’t repeated before we come tomorrow morning. After we returned I was given some schooling by Michele and Simon in how to fix a bike puncture! Before I came to Skagen, I hadn’t used a bike outside of a gym for 15 years. Needless to say the first few weeks of riding everywhere were . .painful! And it seems Danish tyres are different to English as I just couldn’t get the patch to stay on (or that’s my excuse anyway). I scurried away as fast as humanly possible after this and went for a swim in Kattergat. Fantastic temperature and superb visibility, only slightly marred by getting stung by a jellyfish!
Simon cooked us a lovely dinner, a very Mediterranean style pasta bake, and we discussed the activities of the coming weeks, not just the current, as we have some tasks that need completing before the end of July.
A hawkmoth caterpillar of some species that Michele and I found on the way to the CES site.
Last school visit of the summer.
This morning the school of Brovandeskolen arrived for a visit to the observatory, with about 70 children. At 9:00 am I opened the nets in the garden, hoping to catch some birds to show the children. Fortunately, I find three young whitethroat recently flown from the nest, and Simon shows them to the children and explains about the ringing activity.
In addition to ringing, Simon explains to children about our moth trap. At night we place a white cloth with a particular light bulb to attract the moths, and at the bottom we place empty egg cartons, where the moths will then tend to take refuge during the first hours of light. With this system we can determine the interesting species present near the observatory.
Together with the children we find two interesting moth species:
• Poppelsværme - english name: poplar hawk-moth - latin name: Laothoe populi
• Aftenpåfugleøje - english name: eyed hawk-moth - latin name: Smerinthus ocellata
At about 11:30 I close the mist-nets, and I stay until lunchtime at the birder's club to study and answer some questions from the visitors. During the morning Igor and Johan leave, we say goodbye and thank them for their work and for their good company. I thank them again for the barbecue they organised last night. We spent a wonderful evening eating, laughing and talking about the cultural differences / similarities between the peoples of our different countries, very interesting.
In the afternoon, Peter works at a video presentation for the birder's club, while I maintain the ringing area, I take gardening tools and clean the tall grass and branches the mist-nets. After dinner we gather to plan the activity for the rest of the week.
Common whitethroat fledgling.
First cormorants fledged.
Michele and I were up early this morning to see what ringing we could do in the observatory garden. We had nets open from 6 to 10 and only caught 4 birds, so not a fantastic haul. One was a recently fledged yellowhammer and another was a tree pipit, which were nice to see in the hand.
After we closed the nets, we both decided to be more visible around the centre for anyone that wanted to ask questions about the birds of the area of our work here in general. I based myself in the centre, but as I didn’t have a sign, very few people approached me (this has been rectified) but I did chat to a few visitors and they seemed to go away happy. Hopefully we can be more present around the centre over the next month at least, to help guide and inform.
After lunch Simon came back, with a camera crew in tow, ready to film a section about the Iberian chiffchaff we caught a month ago, and soon disappeared off to film the bird itself. After a brief afternoon snooze, I headed over to the cormorant colony to undertake the bi weekly count. This has changed slightly in the recent weeks. In collaboration with Morten, we’ve picked out the nests we want to focus on for the season and so each visit now will be focussing mainly on those nests (though we’ll still be recording what happens to the others as a whole). It was an interesting visit, things have changed in the week that I haven’t been there. The red necked grebes have all lost their nests, and not just the eggs, but all of the nests have disappeared, which is odd, but we have had some foul weather recently which could have contributed. The finer weather now seemed to be having an affect on the cormorant chicks, several of which seemed to have died from exposure. Other nests are suspiciously empty, but it seems that some of those may have fledged young, judging by some of the very young birds I saw perching amongst the trees. Others are still full of almost grown young, and still others have tiny chicks that can only have hatched in the last week, so there’s a diverse age range in the colony.
After I took my records, I had a tip from Morten about a pond where red necked grebes had bee; successful in hatching a chick, and I spent a pleasant hour there watching and filming the small family. This made me late for dinner but thankfully Igor and Jonas had made a bbq and there was more than enough left for me when I arrived. After a pleasant, but late night, Michele and I went to bed early in preparation for ringing tomorrow.
Easy like a Sunday morning . .
Today was a slow day, ringing has quietened right down, with the progression of the breeding season, though it promises to pick up again soon with the arrival of lots of local fledglings. Some other opportunities will arise soon, the possibility to ring waders and terns is just around the corner, and another visit to our nightjar sight will be occurring soon. That said, it was a quiet start to the morning, with admin and a bit of local birding on the agenda for most of us. The two visitors Igor and Jonas were the busiest of the lot, still installing their cameras both here and and few hours south.
After said quiet morning, I took a trip after lunch to Grenen, to try and refind the ringed plover pulli we had ringed two weeks ago. After a bit of searching I found both broods, all doing well, though I couldn’t find the fourth chick of the first brood (I was content with finding the majority, and prioritised their welfare over spending too much time searching in close proximity. The single chick from the second brood has now fledged, and can fly and run around with the best of them. It’s enough to make me positive about the chances of TWO broods fledging here, though my optimism with the cormorant colony appears to have been misplaced, so perhaps I should try and maintain a sense of realism. The resident bittern flew over the road to Grenen as I was on my way up so I can assume they’re still feeding their fledglings.
After the joy of refinding the plover chicks, I was brought back to the real world by losing my sunglasses and puncturing the tyre on one of the observatories bikes . . meaning I had to to push it back to the observatory . .
When I finally returned, it was straight to the kitchen, to prepare dinner for Michele and myself (fortunately I made more than enough because the guests came in late expecting dinner, which was unexpected. A quick evening meeting and then Michele and I undertook various personal tasks before hitting the sack ready to attempt ringing in the lighthouse garden tomorrow . .
The good weather is back!
This morning we wake up at 4:00! Per and I go ringing in Grenen. It's a nice sunny and not a windy morning. Simon reaches us for the first check of the nets. During the mornings we get some recaptures, some nesting birds, and some juveniles just fledged from the nest. In the late morning we close the mist-nets and go back to the light house, to rest for a few hours. We find Johan and Igor at work with their technological equipment. After lunch, we update on the databases the ringing data and the observations data.
Today is my turn to cook dinner, by popular demand I prepare the “pasta alla carbonara” Italian style, was much appreciated, especially by Per, John and Igor who had never tried it before. During dinner Simon tells me that tonight there will be a big fire on the beach, near the white lighthouse, to celebrate the summer solstice, of course I decide to go! Immediately after dinner Peter comes back from his trip to Copenagen. Simon and Per remain at the observatory to watch the football match Sweden-Germany, go Sweden!
Ringed birds Recaptures
1 Garden warbler 2 Reed warbler
2 Blackcap. 1 Lesser Whitethroat
4 Lesser Whitethroat 2 Whitethroat
1 Reed bunting 1 Reed bunting
visste redan igår kväll att det skulle bli en blåsig dag idag, utan möjlighet att ha fångstnäten på Grenen uppe. Därför ägnades gårdagskvällen åt Svensk pølseret, öl, Shuffle board och andra saker. Mycket trevligt! De flesta i personalen tog sovmorgon och det började hända saker på Skagens fågelstation först vid 8-tiden denna dag. Simon började sin dag med en fågelguidning längs Grenens östra strand som fortsatte längs Sandormssporet och tillbaka genom Ellekrattet. Nöjda deltagare fick njuta av områdets häckande fåglar samt ett stort antal rastande sjöfåglar och tärnor.
På morgonen stack Peter iväg på en av stationens cyklar. Hans imponerande skägg pekade österut när han trampade in mot byn i den i den friska västliga vinden. Peter ville hinna med ett tåg mot Aalborg strax före tio och därifrån åka vidare mot Köpenhamn för att gå på en konsert med sitt favoritband "Runrig", som just nu genomför sin avskedsturné. Michele och jag gav oss ut på en skådartur och skådade längs östra stranden ut mot Grenens spets. Det var mycket rörelse över vattnet med hundratals fiskande havssulor och tärnor av arterna kentsk-, fisk- och silvertärna. En mörk kustlabb jagade tärnor en bit ut och flockar med tretåiga måsar drog fram och tillbaka. Läckert! Tättingar såg vi inte så många men en ensam forsärla och enstaka starar gjorde sträckförsök. Längst ut på Grenen rastade flockar med tärnor, måsar, trutar och vi lyckades hitta några fåglar som var ringmärkta med färgringar. Bland annat läste vi av sifferkombinationer på kentsk tärna, tretåig mås, silltrut och havstrut.
Under dagen arbetade Igor och Johan från Mittuniversitetet i Sundsvall vidare med installation och montering av den kamerautrustning som ska detektera och registrera förbiflygande fåglar. Projektet med kameradetektering av fåglar finansieras av svenska Vattenfall och ska om det fungerar som tänkt, ge ett mått på hur många fåglar som förolyckas vid vindkraftverk där utrustningen sätts upp. Intressant och inte helt okomplicerat...
Eftermiddagen spenderade Michele och jag med att länge och väl titta på storskarvar i ”Skarvsøen”. Bon, ungar och vuxna individer inventerades. Några hade små ungar, andra stora ungar och några hade döda ungar som den grovnäbbade havstruten glupskt slet i stycken. Utöver de snygga storskarvarna sågs nio gråhakedoppingar, en handfull sothöns, kricka, en gök och stressade tornseglare som jagade insekter lågt över våra huvuden. Kvällen spenderades inomhus med matlagning och Michele visade bilder från ringmärkning på Sardinien. Många bilder på exotiska fågelarter, eller vad sägs om biätare, härfågel, sommargylling, dvärguv m.m. Minst sagt triggande för en svensk ringmärkare! Simon åkte iväg på eftermiddagen för att vara med på en av sina kompisars examensfest i Hals innan han returnerade vid midnat. På vägen hem såg han en nattskärra flyga över vägen vid Ålbæk.
Michele vid Storskavkolonin
New guests arrived!
In the morning Simon took us out to a little birding trip to Jerup Strand, Tversted Strand and Hirtshals, hoping to find some rare species.
We saw some waders including Redshank, Oystercatcher, Shelduck, Sandwich terns, Common tern, Arctic terns, little ringed plover, ringed plovers, and other various species.
In Hirtshals we saw one of the last remaining Crested larks in Denmark. The only site where they still remain breeding. Apparently, in the last 50 years the population has declined, and now near extinction. Probably due to loss of habitat in urban and agricultural areas.
In the afternoon while busy working on indoor tasks a new guest arrived. Per Österman from Gothenburg, Sweden. He has a long experience as ringer and observer and will stay here until Sunday. Late in the evening Igor Fedorov and Johan from the University of Sundsvall arrived to test some 3D-cameras on migrating birds that hopefully can be useful regarding how to monitoring the effect of wind turbines on birds a maybe even give us more knowledge about how to avoid collisions. For about a month ago, a Red kite lost its life due to collision with a wind turbine here in Skagen.
After dinner, we socialized and got to know our new guests a little better through a tournament of Shuffle ball!
Igor Fedorov with the 3D-cameras
Per Österman out birding with our Swarovski Teleskope