Friday, February 18, 2011

Mozambique November 2010

Ringing trip report from Quirimbas NP Northern Mozambique
12th to 24th November 2010

Malcolm Wilson
Phillip Clay
Rebecca Marques-Phillips
Jim Mcluskie
Peter van Eden


I had intended to spend extra time on Ibo Island to concentrate on ringing palearctic migrant waders. Last year this time we ringed over 120 waders including 54 Crab Plovers on Ibo Island, early strong monsoon winds made netting very difficult on the sand-flats but 23 shorebirds were caught including 2 Crab Plovers. Before this we spent time at two other mainland sites, one in a coastal thicket habitat and the other in mature Miombo woodland and forest.
We ringed on the islands interior in wonderful low bush habitat where we caught a high variety of species.
A total of 500 birds were caught, 455 new and 45 retraps from previous years of a total of 77 species.

Pemba Dive Bush Camp.
We set two lines of nets along the tracks and began to catch immediately. It was interesting to see the different species composition based on last years catch.
Of note was the increase of Olive Sunbirds and the complete lack of African Paradise flycatchers, this latter species an afro-tropical migrant which may have been influenced by the same factors that have made the other migratory species scarce this time. Of note here were Yellow-mantled Widowbirds, Zanzibar Red and Black-winged Red Bishops, Pale Batis, Brown-breasted Barbet (the latter two coastal endemics).
An exciting observation was an adult female Ulunguru Violet-backed Sunbird which was confirmed for the Park in October 2008 by sighting at Taratibo.
This species is endemic to the Ulunguru range of the Eastern Arc mountains in Mozambique but has a tiny local population in QNP and the Pemba area.

Set a line of nets along a great forest path and opened in the morning at 0430hrs with distant Lions roaring! Of note was an African Broadbill and a flock of 6 Chestnut-fronted Helmet-shrikes, the latter species a very sought after coastal endemic by birdwatchers so and was good to see the curious bristle like chestnut front!

Later we were rewarded with a pair of Ulunguru Violet-backed Sunbirds in the net, once again confirming this curiously distributed east African endemic.

Of other particular note was catching a new species for the park, Marico Sunbird which according to the literature, has its nearest distribution to PNQ in the south of Mozambique and in central Tanzania, so a very good record.
Another good find was a pair of Cliffchats, and to catch one, again its nearest distribution according to the literature is on the eastern shores of Lake Malawi.
Other catches included Livingstone’s Flycatcher, Red-capped Robinchat, Square-tailed Drongo, Bearded Scrub Robin, Cardinal Woodpecker, Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Eastern Nicator, one survived an African Harrier Hawk attack in the net!

We set a net for the colony of White-rumped Swifts and got several birds including 3 retraps from the previous year. Another interesting retrap was an African Goshawk which we had ringed one year ago.
Overhead during the day we saw Honey Buzzard, Martial Eagle, Bateleur, and White-headed Vulture

Ibo Island
On arrival in the afternoon we set nets immediately before dark in the sand-flats and that night caught two crab Plovers, 3 Terek Sandpiper, 2 Greater Sandplover and 2 Common Sandpiper.

The next day we decided to explore and do more birding on the island and walked to the airstrip to look for a pair of recently seen Madagascar Pratincole, but no luck. The evening session produced 2 Whimbrel and very little activity so the nets were closed for the night.

Jumping on the old Landrover (only vehicle on the island!) at 0400, we drove into the bush and set a line of 6 x 18m nets through low scrub and thicket with some mature Baobab and fig species in the vicinity.

32 Birds were caught and ringed including of note, Mangrove Kingfisher, Black-throated Wattle-eye and Brown-breasted Barbet, Striped Kingfisher, Pygmy Kingfisher (afro-tropical migrant along the coast), Gorgeous Bush-shrike this a new distribution record for this part of Mozambique, only found north of the Rovuma River and in the far south of the country, but fairly common here, Ashy Flycatcher, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Orange-breasted Bush-shrike, Violet-backed Starling, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Common Sandpiper and Red-backed Shrike.
Observations were a Sooty Falcon and a pair of Black-chested Snake Eagles.
Cut some new net rides for the next day.

Set up before dawn and were surprised to catch more new birds with relatively few retraps. Of note were Red-capped Robin-chats which I think are possibly a passage migrant here as the habitat is not typical for the species. Other new species of note were Grey Sunbird, Klaas’s Cuckoo and Scarlet-chested Sunbird.

Mid day we set a net at a Madagascar bee-eater colony and caught 2 individuals out of a possible 5.

The evening session produced 5 Terek Sandpipers and a Curlew Sandpiper. Observations were Caspian Tern and a few Lesser Crested Terns.

Visit to Quirimba island
Following a very successful trip last year to the Island where we caught 82 Madagascar Bee-eaters, we decided to revisit the breeding colonies and see if there were any retraps.
The wind was not helping at all but after an amazing breakfast from the German coconut farmers, we got a line of nets up over the same colony as well as a second.
A total of 30 birds were caught with 2 retraps from last year out of the new colony which shows there is no specific nest hole fidelity.

We left Ibo Island the next day and got back to Pemba bush camp and set nets again. New birds this time were Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Red-throated Twinspot, Dideric Cuckoo, Black Cuckoo-shrike, African Yellow White-eye (new range extension) a Red-backed Shrike and a Spotted Flycatcher.

Main Species totals;

Sombre Greenbul 97
Red-capped Robinchat 16
Spectacled Weaver 12
Olive Sunbird 27
Green-backed Camaroptera 15
Black-throated Wattle-eye 11
Green-winged Pytilia 11
Black-backed Puffback 12

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