Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Another Garden Session: Crynant, 13th March

In this session we caught a total of 52 birds. Our Siskin total this time was 35 including 2 controls, that is birds which were ringed somewhere else. We shall wait to see how far they have travelled.
  
We also had 4 lesser redpoll, which is the first time they have been ringed in March in this garden although they have been ringed in April previously. There were three females and a male so it was good to see the difference as the male was coming into full breeding plumage.

Other than 3 Bullfinches, the rest was made up of the usual tits, Dunnock and Robin.

Thanks to Valerie for her assistance.

Heather Coats


Saturday, 11 March 2017

Oxwich Marsh 11 March 2017: an influx of finches and a new duck trap

A pleasant morning; a light to moderate south-easterly wind and overcast.

We tried targeting snipe in two areas, put a net by the feeder, and a line through the reed bed. The catch was as follows:

Species
New
Recaptured
Total
Jack Snipe
1
0
1
Snipe
1
0
1
Great Spotted Woodpecker
0
1
1
Wren
0
1
1
Blue Tit
4
4
8
Great Tit
0
3
3
Chaffinch
3
2
5
Greenfinch
6
2
8
Goldfinch
43
8
51
Siskin
10
1
11
Reed Bunting
0
1
1
Total:
68
23
91

Snipe numbers have clearly decreased over the past few weeks, and we only managed one common and one jack snipe this morning. One bird was caught in each of the respective trapping areas, which were L-shaped and U-shaped configurations respectively.

The nets across the marsh returned no birds at all, despite being up for three hours and a notable recent increase in reed bunting numbers in the reedbed. The feeder nets accounted for all but four of the birds!

The main feature of the catch was the total of 51 goldfinches. A flock of around 60 birds has been roosting in the bushes close to the feeding station recently, and other birds are obviously commuting in. The siskins have been present for a few weeks, but this was the first time we had caught them this year. No between-year retraps yet, but we did control a female ringed elsewhere.

The pace was fairly gentle, allowing some late winter ride maintenance and for Wayne to complete his duck trap. A very professional-looking result, and hopefully something that will provide an opportunity for increasing the range of species our trainees get to handle. No rash statements about what we will catch at this stage; we will play it by ear.

A few chiffchaff, including a singing bird were around the South Pond, we saw our first sand martin of the year, the little egret roost numbered seven birds, and a pair of buzzards were tussling with a female goshawk over the marsh just before we left - so some good birdwatching to go with the ringing.

Thanks to Heather Coats, Keith Vaughton, Wayne Morris, Paul Aubrey, Val Wilson, Sarah Davies and Francis Morgan for company and assistance this morning.

Owain Gabb
11/03/2017

Jack (left) and common snipe

Jack (left) and common snipe

Jack (upper) and common snipe

Siskin (male)

Wayne with the duck trap (90 % complete here)

Friday, 24 February 2017

Mainly Siskins


Valerie and I did a session in my Crynant garden this morning as I had noticed a good number of Siskins on the feeders. 
We caught 49 birds of which 37 were Siskins. There are more visiting the feeders than I thought!
The other birds were: 4 Robins, 2 Starlings, 2 Blue tits, 2 Coal tits, a Nuthatch and a Dunnock.
The only re-trap was one of the Coal tits.





                                                   Heather Coats

Monday, 20 February 2017

Oxwich Marsh mid February 2017: more ringers than birds ......... !

It has been a quiet February.

The weather has been predominantly mild and fairly damp, and there have been no significant storms or cold spells since the turn of the year. The low productivity in blue tits in 2016 certainly seems to have left a legacy in terms of numbers at the feeders, and despite parties of finches moving through, we have failed to catch many greenfinch or any siskin to date.

The catch for the last couple of sessions is detailed in the table below:

Species
Ringed
Recaptured
Total
Jack Snipe
1
0
1
Snipe
6
0
6
Great Spotted Woodpecker
0
1
1
Wren
1
0
1
Dunnock
0
1
1
Robin
0
3
3
Goldcrest
1
0
1
Long-tailed Tit
0
2
2
Blue Tit
2
4
6
Great Tit
1
2
3
Chaffinch
1
1
2
Greenfinch
0
1
1
Goldfinch
8
2
10
Total:
21
17
38

The lack of sustained heavy rainfall this winter has resulted in the marsh being relatively dry. This has allowed us to target snipe in some marginal areas that were far too wet to access in winter 2014/15, and only marginally better in 2015/16. 2017 is already our best calendar year for the species (20 to date), and we are finding the new Baker (2016) guide a very useful tool for getting to grips with ageing them.

The Baker guide gives clearer guidance on the ageing criteria for first winter and adult snipe, and we are now seeing features including retained median coverts and rounded primary covert tips in some birds (two of the more obvious first winter and adult features respectively) more readily and drawing conclusions with greater confidence. It has only taken us 55 snipe to get this far (the first was captured in November 2014)! Other highlights of the combined catch were a jack snipe (the fourth of the year), and long-tailed tits ringed in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

There were at least 60 snipe on the marsh during the 18 February session, and we would expect to be catching both common and jack snipe well into March based on previous years.

We managed to replace a stile between net rounds on Saturday, such was the lack of birds, and we are now way down in terms of numbers on both 2016 and 2015. There haven't quite been more ringers than birds, but it has been close at times.

Thanks to all who have made it out for the last two sessions: Heather Coats, Keith Vaughton, Wayne Morris, Emma Cole, Darren Hicks, Val Wilson, Paul Aubrey, Ben Rees, Olivia Pargeter, Leighton Newman, Natasha Dodds and Sarah Davies.

Owain Gabb
20/02/2017


L-R Leighton Newman, Ben Rees, Keith Vaughton, Heather Coats, Darren Hicks and Wayne Morris

L-R Wayne Morris, Sarah Davies and Leighton Newman

Common snipe

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Oxwich Marsh 4 Feb 2017: early morning sniping

A break in the weather allowed us to get a session in. This morning was cold on the marsh, with ice forming just before dawn and coating the stiles (making them treacherous), the gate lock and even the scales we use for weighing birds within a few minutes of their being put on the table. On the plus side, there was very little wind, and this allowed us to try out a variety of net rides. Most proved unproductive (and those within the open reed bed returned nothing), but a catch of just shy of 60 birds was not too bad.

This broke down as follows:

Species
Ringed
Recaptured
Total
Jack Snipe
2
0
2
Snipe
6
1
7
Great Spotted Woodpecker
0
3
3
Wren
1
0
1
Dunnock
1
3
4
Robin
0
3
3
Song Thrush
0
1
1
Goldcrest
0
2
2
Blue Tit
2
7
9
Great Tit
1
4
5
Chaffinch
4
1
5
Greenfinch
2
0
2
Goldfinch
13
2
15
Total:
32
27
59

The highlights of the day were the snipe. It is always a pleasure to catch jack snipe in particular, and we can now age some of them with a degree of confidence based on a combination of the characteristics of the undertail coverts, and the shape of tail feathers two and three. Common snipe remain far more of a dark art to age in the late winter, particularly if retained juvenile median coverts are not apparent. We have now ringed 48 common snipe at Oxwich over the past few years. Today we caught our first between-session retrap. Unfortunately we had only ringed it last week.

A rough count indicated approximately forty-seven common snipe and at least four jack snipe were present near the South Pond today, with smaller numbers in various other areas of suitable habitat. We have proven between year reoccurrence at the marsh in jack snipe, but not in common snipe to date - the reference population appears large!

The numbers of birds visiting the feeders is now starting to pick up. Finches, particularly goldfinch, are coming in in flocks, and this morning a small party of very vocal siskins were present. Two greenfinches were welcome, as we haven't captured one in a while. Thankfully the greenfinches and all of the chaffinches captured today were healthy, with no evidence of either trichomonosis or Fringilla papillomavirus recorded.

Since the turn of the year we have captured seven different great spotted woodpeckers. All have been recaptures from previous years. A song thrush, originally ringed in October 2015, was welcome, as we don't tend to capture the species on the marsh with regularity (18 birds in 2015 and 10 in 2016), and this was the first time the bird had been re-trapped since ringing.

Thanks to all who were able to attend this morning: Heather Coats, Keith Vaughton, Wayne Morris, Emma Cole, Darren Hicks, Val Wilson, Natasha Dodds, Olivia Pargeter and Sarah Davies.

Owain Gabb
04/02/2017

Jack snipe (Emma Cole)