Monday, 26 June 2017

Oxwich Marsh 17 June 2017: a good year for residents?

Saturday June 17 proved ideal for ringing, with very little wind across the marsh and fairly overcast skies.

We had anticipated a big catch, and were not disappointed with a tally of 185 birds of 22 species. The breakdown was as follows:

Species
Ringed
Recaptured
Total
Great Spotted Woodpecker
7
2
9
Wren
3
0
3
Dunnock
5
0
5
Robin
5
2
7
Blackbird
2
0
2
Cetti's Warbler
1
0
1
Grasshopper Warbler
0
1
1
Sedge Warbler
0
3
3
Reed Warbler
7
2
9
Whitethroat
2
1
3
Blackcap
6
0
6
Chiffchaff
9
1
10
Willow Warbler
4
1
5
Goldcrest
1
0
1
Blue Tit
24
1
25
Great Tit
29
4
33
Treecreeper
2
0
2
Chaffinch
11
2
13
Greenfinch
6
0
6
Goldfinch
9
3
12
Siskin
15
8
23
Reed Bunting
5
1
6
Total:
153
32
185

Highlights of the morning were:

  • Our first fledgling great spotted woodpeckers. We have captured 22 unique great spots to date in 2017 (including a large number of between-year retraps), which is only one less than the best year to date (23 in 2015). As most birds are captured in June and July, and we still have five weeks of the period remaining, it is safe to say 2017 is looking good for woodpeckers.
  • Our first juvenile Cetti's warbler of the year. This was the earliest record of a fledgling by ten days.
  • A female grasshopper warbler with a brood patch (code 4 i.e. going over) and carrying food. A good indication that the young got through the persistent heavy rain of the week before.
  • Our first fledged chiffchaffs (eight of the total of ten birds), along with an adult bird in wing moult. These are also the earliest fledgling chiffchaffs we have captured on the site to date.
  • Far better totals of young blue and great tits than have been typical of the past two years, along with small but steady numbers of dunnocks and robins.
  • Our first two fledged treecreepers of the year to date
  • Continued good numbers of (predominantly) young siskin
  • Our first day of multiple young reed buntings following an early fledgling on 3 June.

All the above indicates what appears to be a good breeding season for our local residents. Hopefully this will continue throughout the breeding season, and our long distance migrants will also have a successful year.

Thanks to all who made it along.

Owain Gabb
26/06/2017

The ringing team. L-R Heather Coats, Natasha Dodds, Sarah Davies, Emma Cole, Wayne Morris

A smart male reed bunting

Juvenile Treecreeper (Natasha Dodds)

Monday, 5 June 2017

Oxwich Marsh 3 June 2017: juvenile chatting

A calm, relatively windless start to the day, with the breeze picking up from the south-west by mid-morning. We set net lines (total 760 feet) through the reed bed, woodland / scrub and in an area of rushy ground with scattered willow and alder.

Although we have had juvenile birds among the catch for several weeks now, this was the first visit where young of the year dominated the total. Sixty one of the one hundred and five birds were youngsters, including 20 recently fledged goldfinches.

A breakdown of the catch is presented in the table below:

Species
Ringed
Recaptured
Total
Great Spotted Woodpecker
0
1
1
Dunnock
2
3
5
Robin
4
3
7
Stonechat
1
0
1
Blackbird
3
0
3
Song Thrush
1
0
1
Sedge Warbler
1
5
6
Whitethroat
0
1
1
Chiffchaff
1
1
2
Willow Warbler
1
0
1
Blue Tit
4
1
5
Great Tit
4
1
5
Chaffinch
4
1
5
Greenfinch
4
1
5
Goldfinch
31
5
36
Siskin
11
6
17
Bullfinch
1
0
1
Reed Bunting
2
1
3
Total:
75
30
105

The highlights from our perspective were:
  • A juvenile stonechat. This was the first of the species for 2017. In 2016 the first (also a juvenile) was captured on 4 June. There is no indication the species breeds close to the net rides. June captures seem to relate to 1st or 2nd brood birds / family groups, with another cohort of juveniles appearing in August and passage / dispersal through the area throughout September and October.
  • Capture of a control sedge warbler (a bird ringed at another site) and two returnees from 2016.
  • The first young great tits of the year (4) approximately 1 week earlier than in 2016.
  • A female reed bunting first ringed in 2014 (as a second calendar year bird) and recaptured breeding on the marsh each year since.
Hopefully we will catch some stonechat family groups over the next few weeks, and the periods of heavy rain and blustery winds forecasted for this week will not affect productivity in migrant warblers.

Thanks to Heather Coats, Keith Vaughton, Cedwyn Davies and Val Wilson for company and assistance on Saturday.

Owain Gabb
05/06/2017

Stonechat (Keith Vaughton)

Monday, 29 May 2017

Oxwich Marsh 28 May 2017: breeding groppers

The morning of 28 May was ideal for ringing; warm and virtually windless with overcast skies. We set a total of 720 feet of net in a mixture of reed bed and fringing scrub.

The day total was 65 birds.

Combined captures since 7 May, when the last blog post went up, are as follows:

Species
New
Recaptured
Total
Great Spotted Woodpecker
3
22
25
Wren
0
3
3
Dunnock
2
10
14
Robin
18
7
25
Blackbird
3
2
5
Song Thrush
0
1
1
Cetti's Warbler
1
2
3
Grasshopper Warbler
2
0
2
Sedge Warbler
3
8
11
Reed Warbler
2
4
6
Blackcap
1
0
1
Chiffchaff
1
3
4
Long-tailed Tit
3
2
5
Blue Tit
4
4
8
Great Tit
1
11
12
Chaffinch
11
11
22
Greenfinch
8
3
11
Goldfinch
11
5
16
Siskin
21
20
41
Bullfinch
1
0
1
Reed Bunting
0
4
4
Total:
96
122
220

The highlights have been:
  • The regular capture of great spotted woodpeckers. We have a minimum of 15 different birds visiting the feeders at present based on regular recapture data.
  • Better numbers of juvenile robins than were apparent at this time in 2016. 
  • Two grasshopper warblers, both on 28 May. The first, a female with an engorged brood patch was a fairly pale-looking brown bird, the second a buff-yellow type bird that did not show a brood patch or a convincing cloacal protrusion, and was not sexed. Reeling has been heard intermittently over the past month, but it was unclear whether a territory was present or whether passage birds could account for this. The female proves breeding for the third successive year.
  • A gradual increase in the number of reed and sedge warbler captured. Most of the ten and seven unique birds respectively have been returning individuals ringed in previous years.
  • Our first young blue tit, captured on 28 May. Following two years of poor productivity, numbers of blue tits are well down on previous years at present.
  • A continued steady trickle of siskins (many of which have been juveniles) and other finches. Fledged greenfinch and chaffinch were noted by mid month, and the last two visits have seen several fledged goldfinches captured.
Unfortunately a persistently singing lesser whitethroat avoided the nets all morning on 28 May.

May has been a better month in 2017 than in the past few years, with 339 birds (as opposed to 187 in 2016 and 216 in 2015) captured. It appears that early-breeding double or treble brooded resident species have had a relatively successful first attempt. It is hoped that single-brooded tit species have done better this year, and it will be interesting to see how numbers shape up over the next couple of months.

Thanks to Val Wilson for company and assistance yesterday, and to Heather Coats, Keith Vaughton, Cedwyn Davies, Emma Cole, Sarah Davies and Ed Stubbings for variously running and contributing to sessions over the past few weeks.

Photos are below.

Owain Gabb
29/05/2017.

Grasshopper warbler 1. A brown female with an engorged brood patch

Grasshopper warbler 2. A yellowish bird of unclear sex.

An adult female blackbird showing an element of leucism.

A second calendar year bullfinch with several retained greater coverts

Fledged siskins show considerable variation in colour. This bird was captured alongside the bird below.

Fledged siskin