Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Are you interested in Bird Ringing?

We are now in a position that we can take on new trainee ringers.

We are active at a range of sites in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Carmarthenshire, including:  
  • Cwm Clydach RSPB Reserve where we have a long running project re-trapping adult pied flycatchers that aims to collect high quality data on between year survival rates;
  •  Penclacwydd (WWT Llanelli) where we run a Constant Effort Site (collecting a standardised data set as part of a UK-wide initiative aimed at analysing change in bird populations);
  • Oxwich Marsh National Nature Reserve (where we catch large numbers of migrant warblers, swallows and finches and are active throughout the year); and
  • Margam Park (where our captures regularly include species that forage in open grassland habitats such as mistle thrush and green woodpecker).
The variety of habitats at the sites we visit, and the commitment of members of the Group to ensure that sessions are run regularly provides trainees with the opportunity to study a wide variety of birds in the hand and to steadily improve their skills.

We are a very active, friendly group with a varied demographic, and include university students / researchers, ecological consultants, site wardens and representatives of Gower Ornithological Society, as well as people with a more general interest in birds and other wildlife who work / have worked outside the conservation sector. 

We would note that to make progress towards a licence you need to attend most weeks (and aim for every week), and you need to be able to drive and have access to a car. Early starts are a fact of ringing life unfortunately; arrival on site at 05:30 is typical in the mid-summer. 

A reasonable level of physical fitness is needed, particularly for the pied flycatcher work, while an ability to identify birds is always an advantage (albeit this can be taught to a large degree). We ring on both weekdays (morning and evening) and weekends, so a full time job does not preclude your attending sessions.

If you would think you would like to get involved, just leave your contact details in a comment at the bottom of the page and we will get back to you with further information.

A few pictures of birds captured in 2016 are below.

Gower Ringing Group
18/07/2017

Water rail. We captured three of this species in 2016.

Jack snipe. We have captured 23 individuals at the marsh since late 2014. We have now proven between winter site fidelity from retrap data.

Yellow-browed warbler. In 2016 we caught 16 different individuals, including nine in one session.

Firecrests. A scarce migrant in October and November. We capture 3-4 per year.

A genuine Welsh rarity. A little bunting captured in October 2016.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

CES at WWT Llanelli 2017



We have completed the first 6 sessions of the Constant Effort Site  (CES) at WWT Llanelli. Numbers are down a little over last year at 142 whereas we had 162 by this time in 2016. However we were pleased to catch 2 Willow tits this year, an adult and  a juvenile together which indicates breeding on the site for this Red Listed species. The adult had been caught earlier in the year during winter ringing in the same area.



The totals caught so far are:
Species
New
Retrap
Total
Wren
5
7
12
Dunnock
16
8
24
Robin
12
7
19
Blackbird
4
10
14
Song thrush
4
1
5
Blackcap
6
2
8
Chiffchaff
17
1
18
Goldcrest
0
2
2
Long-tailed tit
7
7
14
Willow tit
1
1
2
Blue tit
4
2
6
Great tit
2
3
5
Treecreeper
2
0
2
Bullfinch
4
7
11




Totals
84
58
142

Other notable highlights were 11 juvenile Chiffchaffs and 2 juvenile Treecreepers on visit 5.

Thanks to Paul Aubrey, Olivia Pargeter, Sammy-jo Pengelly, Valerie Wilson and Wendy Hall for their contributions to the ringing sessions.


Heather Coats

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)