Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mozambique Quirimbas National Park 2nd to 9th of October 2011
Guide-training workshop

Sites visited
Ibo Island Lake Kagavero and Mareja

It was the end of the dry season and everything was brown and leafless. Got picked up at Pemba By Rebecca and transferred the four stow away mice from my pockets to their more suitable cage.

We set off directly to the dhow landing to Ibo Island but not before catching a Lizard Buzzard on the way. It was perched high up on a huge Baobab and came in straight away, a second year bird and probably a male for its size.

On the way saw Brown Snake Eagle, 4 Gymnogene, and had great views of a circling Ayre’s Eagle.
Near the landing site we came across an area of burning mashambas (village crops) where we counted 30 Black-shouldered Kites.
Got to Ibo Island in a grand old Dhow and met our host Lucie who was residing in one of the original colonial buildings, in this case the old bank with its 6m high ceilings and great wooden beams. There is such a wonderful atmosphere in this little town of such antiquities, from 18th century Arab, to art deco Portuguese colonial.

It was blowing hard so setting nets was out of the question so the next morning met the trainee guides to conduct a formal bird-watching course.
The tide was coming in so we all went to the sea wall to watch the concentrations of retreating waders form. Many birds with 300+ Whimbrel, 100’s of Greater Sandplover, Turnstone and Curlew Sandpiper, dozens of Greenshank and lots of Terek Sandpiper. Feeding just below us was a Common Ringed Plover with a ring on!! Most probably one of mine, but you never know!

That afternoon the wind dropped and we got a line of nets up and sat back to wait. Unfortunately the wind got up again but not before catching 6 Greater Sandplover, 1 Mongolian Plover, 2 Common Sandpiper and a Ringed Plover with a ring on!! And it was a retrap from last year. Crab Plovers were calling just beyond the nets but the wind was not helping so we called it a day.

First thing in the morning we set nets in the Old Cemetery and got 15 birds, still windy conditions not helping. We got 5 retraps which was hopefully a good reflection on my talk to the community a year ago to appeal to them not to trap and kill birds.
Birds caught included Red-capped Robin-chat, Black-throated Wattle-eye, Sombre Greenbul, Purple-banded Sunbird, Lesser-masked and Village Weavers.

Spent the rest of the day concentrating on teaching the trainee guides from the bird-guiding manual I had produced and went over many of the techniques required to become a proficient bird-watcher.
The next day we set off back to the mainland and sailed with the dhow, such a nicer way to travel than having to listen to the drone of the outboard.

Lake Kagavero
On the way to the lake we stopped to drop a trap for a Black-chested Snake Eagle which was in a low tree off the track. We got a trap down after a bit of manovering and after a while the bird spotted the mouse in the trap, amazing really whilst hanging onto the branch in this wind!
It was next to the trap and had had a couple of lunges at the mouse when two Pied Crows dropped in landing next to the eagle. What an utter pain, now the eagle was more distracted by the two damn crows which were curious about what was going on. Eventually the eagle had enough and took off. So disappointing!

At the lake, the wind was still pumping and so we took a drive overland around to the western side. Here we found plenty of birds, Marsh Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Little stint Greenshank, Ruff, Black-winged Stilt and many more including a few Mongolian Plover which had probably come in land a little way to get out of the fierce wind.
I was looking at a pair of Collared Pratincole feeding a pair of young when I spotted what I took to be another circling overhead. Something was not quite right for Collared Pratincole and on closer inspection saw it was a Madagascar Pratincole!! This is a rare visitor to the African mainland and this was a late record.

We found a Yellow-billed Kite in a tree and dropped a trap for it and got a few fly-overs before it landed 10m away from the trap and just stood there!
There were lots of raptors up in the sky here, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Bateleur, mainly young and immature birds, Brown Snake eagle, and a pair of Hooded Vulture. Every now and then a Fish Eagle would put up several hundred Open-billed Storks as it took a fish.

We set up a few nets in and around a thicket of flowering Comberetum micophyllum where many birds were feeding on the nectar. We got mainly Yellow Weaver as well as many sunbirds including Scarlet-chested, White-bellied and a pair of Uluguru Violet-backed Sunbirds! These are the second pair I have caught here in the park which occur just here in a tiny isolated spot.

We set off for Mareja, dropping for a Dark-chanting Goshawk en route but the bird which got caught slipped the nooses and got away before I could get to it.
Saw a Dickinson’s Kestrel fly over the road in tall woodland, so couldn’t find it to try and catch. Other observations were Brown Snake-eagle, Cuckoo Hawk x 2, Honey Buzzard, Bateleur x 6, Lizard Buzzard x 3.

Got 5 x 60’ and 2 x 40’ nets up in Mareja and before dark got 4 Little Swifts in the 2 panel net including 3 retraps from 2009.

Lions were roaring in the night with elephant crashing about nearby so it was with some trepidation that I went out at 0400hrs in the predawn to open the nets, expecting to find then trampled and looking over my shoulder for any lions thinking of having a go.

Got some good birds, Eastern Nicator, Red-throated Twinspot then as it was getting too hot to continue, I went to close the nets to find 4 Retz’s Helmet-shrikes in the net!

Opened late afternoon when it had cooled down and got a few Forest and Red-headed Weavers, Orange-breasted Bush-shrike and Square-tailed Drongo.

Then an odd thing happened. One of a pair of the resident Cliffchats had a ring on, one we caught a year before, but ringed on the left leg!? Looking closer I could see it wasn’t a ring but a bit of metal wrapped around the tarsi!
Had to catch this I thought. So got a 2 panel up and soon had the pair! The ring turned out to be a length of metal from the key a corned beef tin opener, but who???!!! Eventually Ali one of the kitchen staff owned up confessing that he had caught one of two fighting males in the pantry and after having seen me put so many rings on decided to put his own! There was no damage and the ‘ring’ fitted just fine! Now there are 2 pairs at Mareja, these were a new range record last year.
Ali said that the bird we had ringed last year was now with the other male 800m away in the village!

Next morning got a few more weaver and then 2 Chestnut-fronted Helmet-shrikes! It was such a treat to see this rare coastal endemic.
At lunchtime we were treated to the spectacle of 3 Crowned Eagles over the forest, it looked like 2 males and a female with the two males claw-locking at one time.

The afternoon net-rounds were very quiet, when on one net round, I discovered 20 Chestnut-fronted Helmet-shrikes in the nets!!
I ended the day off with an African Broadbill and a pair of Ashy Flycatchers.

The rangers and guides were all quite fired up by the activities and were showing keen interest in what they now had discovered as a very fun thing to start learning, the birds!

On the way beck to Pemba, we got a second Lizard Buzzard which provided the opportunity to give the locals a ringing demonstration and a talk on how important birds of prey were to their environment.

Totals were 127 Birds ringed of 40 species

No comments: