Friday, 11 January 2019

Oxwich Marsh Ringing Report 2018


2018 was the sixth year of Gower Ringing Group activity at Oxwich Marsh. The site also hosted the Welsh Ringing Course (in September) for the fourth consecutive year.

Species Totals
A total of 3,899 birds of 53 species were processed during the year. Blue tit (553), swallow (480) and reed warbler (272) were the most regularly captured species.

Species totals are presented in the table below.

Table 1.  Total number of (unique) birds trapped at Oxwich Marsh, 2014-2018.
No
Species
2014
2015
2016
2017
2018
1
Mute swan



7
1
2
Sparrowhawk
3

2

1
3
Water rail


3


4
Jack snipe
1
2
14
10
8
5
Snipe
11
4
19
55
60
6
Woodpigeon
1




7
Kingfisher
7
3
1
2

8
Green woodpecker

2


1
9
Great spotted woodpecker
14
23
21
33
47
10
Skylark
2
2



11
Sand martin
14
8
33
19
44
12
Swallow
382
399
595
709
480
13
House martin
1

5
104

14
Tree pipit
13
3
37
19
9
15
Meadow pipit
48
65
14
45
32
16
Yellow wagtail



3
1
17
Grey wagtail


1
7
3
18
Pied/White wagtail

7
44
101
41
19
Wren
74
96
76
70
76
20
Dunnock
61
50
39
74
97
21
Robin
101
68
49
77
71
22
Redstart

1
1


23
Whinchat

2


1
24
Stonechat
6
10
21
14
5
25
Wheatear


1


26
Blackbird
32
39
29
57
58
27
Song thrush
7
18
10
17
23
28
Redwing
8
99
42
92
10
29
Mistle thrush

1


1
30
Cetti's warbler
28
24
26
40
37
31
Grasshopper warbler
6
11
19
13
5
32
Sedge warbler
120
145
177
142
194
33
Reed warbler
153
159
227
192
271
34
Lesser whitethroat
2
2
1

1
35
Whitethroat
42
34
36
23
29
36
Garden warbler
21
5
16
8
12
37
Blackcap
300
190
71
98
172
38
Yellow-browed warbler
1

16

4
39
Wood warbler
1




40
Chiffchaff
140
100
145
101
128
41
Willow warbler
94
85
146
72
98
42
Goldcrest
73
167
106
83
36
43
Firecrest
3
3
4
2
2
44
Long-tailed tit
30
37
42
21
27
45
Marsh tit
2



3
46
Willow tit


1

1
47
Coal tit
3
7
8
7
11
48
Blue tit
393
469
235
427
553
49
Great tit
127
153
135
149
259
50
Nuthatch

2
1

3
51
Treecreeper
1
7
7
3
7
52
Magpie
1
1
1

1
53
Starling
2


2
10
54
Chaffinch
196
265
208
157
187
55
Brambling
1

1
8
22
56
Greenfinch
355
468
244
139
88
57
Goldfinch
445
464
479
324
261
58
Siskin
62
58
150
218
251
59
Lesser redpoll

7
2
2
1
60
Bullfinch
19
13
2
14
11
61
Yellowhammer



1

62
Little bunting


1


63
Reed bunting
157
147
117
96
145
Total
3564
3925
3681
3857
3899


Statistical comparison between years is not possible, as the total amount of net, the net rides used, and the number of visits each month varied depending on the personnel available and the weather conditions. Notwithstanding this, however, we aim to ring in the marsh twice a week during passage periods and at least once a week at other times, and it is possible to draw broad comparisons based on the data supplemented by field observations.  

Features of 2018 were:
  • A second very good year catching snipe. We have now caught over 150 common snipe and 25 jack snipe on the marsh, and have recaptured both species in consecutive winters, indicating between-year site fidelity.
  • A predominantly good year for reedbed warblers. We captured our highest number of reed and sedge warblers to date, while Cetti’s warbler numbers were also above average. It was a poor year for grasshopper warbler however; while we again proved breeding, autumn passage was limited to a single bird.
  • A productive year for a number of common resident species including dunnock, blue tit, great tit and great spotted woodpecker; the overall totals of these species were the highest recorded during a calendar year to date.
  • An excellent first few months of 2018 for brambling (by our own relatively modest standards). We captured a total of 30 birds during winter 2017/18, with 22 of these trapped between 16 January and 14 April 2018.
  • Good siskin numbers. Birds were present between early January and mid-September, and at least two (possibly three) generations of young were recorded.
  • A drop off in goldfinch numbers, and a further decline in greenfinch numbers, the latter almost certainly as a result of trichomoniasis.
  • A disappointing August and early September for tree pipit and garden warbler, and a poor late autumn for redwing and goldcrest. The low totals mainly reflected weather patterns during key passage periods preventing sessions being completed, but there appeared to be a lack of a late autumn influx in goldcrest.
There were no new bird species ringed at the site in 2018 - the first year to date we have not added a new species to the site tally. There were also no rare birds processed during the year, albeit it was good to capture four yellow-browed warblers, which are a relatively scarce species in Gower, in the autumn. Other nice species to capture were green woodpecker, yellow wagtail, whinchat, lesser whitethroat, mistle thrush, firecrest (2), willow tit and marsh tit (3).

Absentees from the annual total were kingfisher and house martin; the former seemed scarce at Oxwich this year, and may have been affected by the cold end to the winter, while catching the latter is always unpredictable. Despite the abundance of jays around the marsh, we have yet to catch one; this is surely the next bird to be trapped at Oxwich.

Controls and Recoveries
The following were notable:
  • A dunnock ringed in Ivybridge, Devon, in July 2015 (when a juvenile), had made its way to Oxwich by March 2018. This is a movement of 133 km in a northerly direction.
  • A reed warbler bird ringed at the site as a juvenile in August 2010 (by the previous incumbent, Barry Stewart) and recaptured in July 2018. 
  • A Cetti’s warbler ringed at Brandon Marsh, Warwickshire as a recently fledged juvenile in June 2018 was recaptured at Oxwich on 20 October; a west south-westerly movement of slightly in excess of 200 km.
  • Two sedge warblers ringed at Uskmouth in 2016 have taken up residence on the marsh during the 2018 breeding season. While this is not particularly notable, the birds were both ringed on the same day, 14 August 2016.
  • A magpie initially ringed on the marsh on 12 October 2013 and recaptured on 12 May 2018. The bird was a female with an engorged brood patch. 
Group News
The ringing group has grown steadily over the past few years. We now have approximately twenty members, of whom around sixteen regularly come to Oxwich.

During the year Stephen Vickers and Kirsty Franklin both achieved their C Permits. The relatively short time in which they gained their permits was testimony to their hard work and commitment. They attended almost all sessions at Oxwich during their first 6-8 months of training, spent time on the Calf of Man and an extended period of volunteering on Skokholm (spanning several months) during which they were ringing on a daily basis. They also found time to go out with Tony Cross and Matt Prior, gaining a very good grounding in different habitats and various other aspects of ringing as a result. They have both now moved on (to the University of East Anglia) to begin ornithologically-focussed PhDs.

Acknowledgements
We are extremely grateful to the Gower Society for providing a fourth year of grant funding in 2018. Without this grant it would not have been possible to continue ringing on the marsh with the same intensity as in previous years, and the data gathered would consequently be far less useful. The grant substantially contributed towards covering our costs.

Nick Edwards (of Natural Resources Wales), who manages the marsh, has been consistently supportive of our efforts since we began ringing in 2013, and we are also very grateful for his continued backing.

Thanks are also due to members of the Gower Ringing Group who have attended regularly over the course of the year and provided the impetus and commitment to maintain our efforts.  In particular: Heather Coats, Cedwyn Davies, Keith Vaughton, Wayne Morris, Emma Cole, Val Wilson, Paul Aubrey, Stephen Vickers, Sophie de Grissac, Richard Dann, Sarah Davies, Martin Thomas, Kirsty Franklin, Joanne Conway, Edward O’Connor, Bethan Dalton, Alex McCubbin, Amy Schwartz, Kathryn Dunnett, Dionne Jenkins, Lara Bates-Prior and Martin Georgiev.

Finally thanks to Kelvin Jones for organising the 2018 Welsh Ringing Course, to Martin Hughes, Gwynedd Roberts, Tony Cross and Justin Walker for their support as visiting trainers, and to Gower Ringing Group members for their assistance in making everything tick.

Photographs are below, and the full PDF report can be found by following this LINK.

Owain Gabb
11/01/2018

Mistle thrush (Richard Dann)

Yellow-browed warbler (Amy Schwartz)

Ringing Demonstration (all mummies present!)
Willow tit (Richard Dann)
Jack snipe (Lara Bates-Prior)

Green woodpecker (Richard Dann)
Whinchat (Alex McCubbin)
Grey wagtail (Alex McCubbin)
Yellow wagtail (Amy Schwartz)
First between-winter capture of snipe (Lara Bates-Prior)