Alpine mist-netting on Hochwechsel

As part of the search for sites in the Austrian alps, that could be suitable for long-term bird migration studies through bird ringing, Tobias Schernhammer and me explored Hochwechsel (1743m a.s.l.) in the past eight days. This mountain pass is part of the easternmost ridge of the alps and has to be crossed by lots of migrating birds on their way south-west.

Unfortunately, we experienced very unfavorable weather conditions for mist-netting, with lots of rain, heavy winds and temperatures below 0°C. Still, the few (half) days we could open up our 300m long mist-netting setup and one night session proved the mountain to be a true migration hotspot with roughly 300 birds ringed (180 Robins between 23:30h and 3:30h in the night of 9./10. Oct). The main species ringed were Robin, Water Pipit, Meadow Pipit and Black Redstart. Other trapped species included Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Black Grouse, Goldcrest, Common Redstart, Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Nuthatch, Siskin and Chaffinch.

Daytime migration across the ridge in the few dry hours included up to 15 Red-throated Pipits, Hen Harriers, Marsh Harrier, Common Kestrels, Peregrine Falcon, Merlin, Ring Ouzels, Common Buzzards, Sparrowhawks, Nutcrackers and lots of passerines (pipits and finches).

Thanks for their valuable support go to Vroni and Matthias of Wetterkoglerhaus, C. Nagl, F. Bittermann, E. Guariento, K. Bürger and M. Milchram and all the others who wanted to help but couldn't because of the weather-realted, earlier end of the project.