Wednesday, 29 February 2012

From the Muddy Banks of the Tagus....

Anyone who knows anything about my exploits along the muddy banks of the Dee will be aware of my interest (bordering on obsession) with the study of shorebird migration.


This manifests itself most obviously in the pursuit of records of colour ringed birds and I have several posts to this blog on the subject. If you haven't seen any then take a wander through the archive...

So an invitation on a trip to the Tagus estuary in Portugal to take part in the colour ringing of two species was never going to be passed up. Bags were packed with optics and cameras and the plane boarded with a mixture of aprehension and something between excitement and expectation.

And what a week it was.... there are many Tagus tales to tell, and over the coming posts I will try to do a fantastic trip justice with words and pictures.

We were there to catch and ring Black-tailed Godwits and Sanderling. First the Blackwits....


....and then diminutive and speedy Sanderlings....


As well as all the ringing and contributing to science we also saw a whole host of birds that seldom (if ever) turn up on my local Patch, and although we concentrated on our target species there was time to record these exotic (to me at least) birds.

Spoonbills might very occasionally turn up on the Dee, but they were easy to see on the Tagus. Photos were taken as we read colour ringed combinations of Avocets and Blackwits.

White Storks soared over rice fields as we looked for Dutch ringed  Blackwits....


As we were preparing to leave on our final day we were treated to a confiding Bluethroat....


My personal favourites were the Black-winged Stilts. Their tall, angular frames threw wonderful reflections in glassy calm pools.


But the undoubted highlight was to help with the ringing of the Blackwits and Sanderlings. To have such long distance migrants in the hand was an amazing experience. The cannon netters and ringers were so skilled, knowledgeable and passionate that it was impossible not to soak these things in....


Measurements were taken and the rings put on tarsi. All recorded meticulously so feedback can be sent when sightings come in.


Will I see one again?


There is more to share from this trip and when time allows more posts will appear here. I have to give a huge thank you to Team Tagus for this opportunity.


Thanks guys!

1 comment:

  1. Oooo u lucky bugger! SO, when we gettin out matey? Any chance in next fortnight?? I'm back at Moore with a vengeance!!!

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