Monday, 10 March 2014

The session after 168 ..... Oxwich Marsh 10 March 2014

The session after the biggest single-day catch for the Gower Ringing Group (168 birds from 3 nets), was always likely to be a slight anti-climax.  However, it didn't feel that way, as the number of birds per round gradually picked up (following a slow start), and we finished the day with 87 birds (of which 67 were newly ringed).  Almost forty of these birds were extracted during the final net round.
 
The following were caught (retraps are indicated by brackets): dunnock 2 (1); Cetti's warbler 1 (1); blue tit 12 (7); great tit 6 (3); chaffinch 5 (0); greenfinch 21 (0); goldfinch 26 (3); and, reed bunting 14 (5).  The overall total for reed bunting in 2014 is 49 birds ringed and 20 ringed birds re-trapped, which already exceeds the combined total of 41 birds in 2013.  One of the re-trapped birds (pictured below) was a male that was approaching 6 years of age (based on the original ringing data).
 
Head of a male reed bunting. 
This was the bird approaching 6 years of age.
And the tail of the same bird, providing
a good indication of why wear of the tail
 should not be used to age reed buntings
 in late autumn and early spring.
A male greenfinch from this morning
When ageing reed buntings, much depends on the shape of the tail, particularly the 5th tail feather.  However, as can be seen from the photo above right, you should not put too much emphasis on tail wear at this time of year (on the premise that young birds will appear more worn).  Known adults were showing very heavy wear, as the central tail feathers of this six year old bird show.
 
It was very nice to continue to capture finches in good numbers.  They are very attractive birds, but pose challenges in terms of ageing in particular.  Capturing large numbers, and seeing lots of birds in the hand really helps to improve confidence and accuracy in ageing terms.  We have now almost reached 100 new goldfinch (95) and greenfinch (82) for the year at Oxwich.  This is a far cry from 2013, when only 3 birds of the respective species were trapped.  The difference is entirely due to regular supplementary winter feeding, as large flocks were present from mid-morning onward.  It is just unfortunate that the siskin and redpoll appear to have left the area already, possibly in response to the very mild late winter,

Many thanks to Cedwyn Davies and Heather Coats for their help and company this morning.

Owain Gabb
10/03/2014

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