Friday, 25 April 2014

Oxwich Marsh 25th April 2014 and a Training Session

This blog today is in two parts. The first being the results of our session at Oxwich Marsh and the second being a training session of the groups trainees.

One could say that the ringing conditions this morning were near perfect. It was calm and overcast and a little chilly, but it soon warmed up and a few warblers and finches start to move about.
We erected 3 nets in the wood, which has been producing some good numbers of Siskin Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Reed Buntings. Three nets in the reed beds which usually catch Reed Warblers, Sedge Warblers, Reed Buntings and other miscellaneous birds and finally we have just started to erect 4 nets in the area we call the bund. It is a high area of land surrounding the waterways of the marsh. It has been slow there at the moment but we are hoping with some vegetation growth the results will improve.

The first round produced a few Wrens, Robin, Siskin and the Greater Spotted Woodpecker below, this being the 5th bird this year.

The Woodpecker was a re-trap, female aged 4.

In  a previous blog Owain mentioned some targets we were hoping for, one being Chaffinch, this male being ringed by Keith was one of eight ringed today.

The star bird of the morning was this Control Reed Warbler, processed by Cedwyn. It was originally ringed in France with ring number 653247 (Museum Paris). It will be interesting to find out from the BTO where and when it was ringed.

The Coal Tit was a first for this year and brings the number of yearly species to 22.

The following is a list of birds captured and processed today:-

Species                              New                    Re-trapped                     Total

Reed Bunting                      3                               (4)                             7
ReedWarbler                       2                               (1)                             3
Greenfinch                          7                               (3)                           10
Siskin                                  6                              (13)                          19
Chaffinch                            7                               (1)                             8
Dunno                                 1                               (1)                             2
Chiffchaff                            2                                                                2
Willow Warbler                   2                                                                2
Goldfinch                             5                                                                4
Blackcap                              1                                                                1
Blue Tit                                                                  (3)                            3
Robin                                                                     (1)                            1
Wren                                     1                               (3)                            4
Great Spotted Woodpecker                                    (1)                            1
Coal Tit                                 1                                                                1
Great Tit                                                                  (1)                           1

Total                                       38                               (32)                       70

The 70 birds caught today bring us to a total of 937 for Oxwich Marsh this year.

Thanks to Owain Gabb, Cedwyn Davies, Keith Vaughan and Owain's Colleague Julian.

Training Session
The second half of the Gower Ringing Group were involved in a training session. Our experienced trainee, Chris Newberry and our new trainee Phil Meade went to Heather Coats's house the groups "A" ringer Trainer. Heather's garden is always good for a nice mixture of birds plus tits which we all love, and today was no exception. It's good to have a mixture of birds to process with trainees, because as experienced ringers know all birds are different and offer different challenges
The session started at 08.00am and concluded at 11.00am.

Species                                 New                         Re-trapped                  Total

Dunnock                                 2                                    (1)                           3
Siskin                                      3                                                                   3
Great Tit                                  1                                                                   1
Bullfinch                                 1                                                                   1
Lesser Redpoll                        1                                                                   1
Nuthatch                                                                        (1)                          1
Coal Tit                                                                          (2)                          2
Robin                                                                             (1)                           1
Greenfinch                               2                                                                   2

Total                                        10                                  (5)                          15

Phil has had some training in the handling of birds before with Heather and today he processed a re-trap Coal Tit and Dunnock and ringed his first bird a Greenfinch. I understand he was very pleased.

The Lesser Redpoll below was one of the birds that Chris got to ring and process. Nice birds often found on your feeders with Siskin and Goldfinch.

Female Lesser Redpoll

Thanks Heather for the information for this blog.


Monday, 21 April 2014

Oxwich Marsh 21 April 2014

A strong easterly wind gradually dropped off over the morning.  However, the residual gusts clearly limited the catch, as in 4.5 hours we failed to capture any reedbed (or other) warblers, and the only nets to return birds were those around the feeders.

Despite the wind (and the sunshine as the morning wore on), the catch of 52 birds made the session worthwhile - but there were no surprises within it.  The following were captured:

Species New Re-trapped Total
Dunnock 0 2 2
Blue Tit 2 0 2
Great Tit 2 13 15
Chaffinch 3 2 5
Greenfinch 6 0 6
Goldfinch 8 2 10
Siskin 4 6 10
Reed Bunting 2 0 2
Total:  27 25 52

The highlights were the finches and reed buntings, as these keep the annual totals ticking.  Ringing targets of 50 chaffinch, 150 greenfinch and 200 goldfinch in 2014 seem attainable. 

A male greenfinch
Totals for 2014 to date are below:

Species New Re-trapped Total
Kingfisher 1 0 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 3 4
Wren 3 6 9
Dunnock 4 13 17
Robin 1 6 7
Stonechat 2 0 2
Cetti's Warbler 2 3 5
Sedge Warbler 2 0 2
Reed Warbler 1 1 2
Blackcap 5 0 5
Chiffchaff 5 0 5
Willow Warbler 5 0 5
Goldcrest 2 1 3
Blue Tit 67 95 162
Great Tit 16 53 69
Chaffinch 41 8 49
Greenfinch 132 20 152
Goldfinch 174 34 208
Siskin 37 16 53
Bullfinch 3 2 5
Reed Bunting 68 34 102
Total: 572 295 867

Many thanks to Cedwyn Davies, Heather Coates, Charlie Sargent and Keith Vaughton for company and assistance this morning.

Owain Gabb

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Oxwich Marsh 18 April 2014

As there had been an influx of migrants over the previous few days, we decided to try and put out a bit more net than usual.  In addition to 160 feet of net in scrub / around the feeder, we put 180 feet of net into the reedbed and a further 240 feet of net along a bund running alongside one of the main channels (580 feet of net in total).  The weather during the morning was very pleasant, albeit a bit bright for ringing - the nets became very visible within the first few hours.

Female kingfisher
The dawn chorus was encouraging: both reed and sedge warbler had arrived in the reed bed in some numbers, a grasshopper warbler was reeling close by, there were occasional bursts of song from (the resident) Cetti's warblers, and as the morning went on we heard both whitethroat and cuckoo.  Willow warbler and blackcap song provided the backdrop, with both being abundant in nearby scrub.  Small flocks of finches remain at the marsh (mainly siskin and goldfinch), and these birds were also regularly heard commuting over, with the siskin occasionally bursting into chattering song.

The catch was relatively varied, with sixteen species trapped.  The breakdown was as follows:

Species New Re-trapped Total
Kingfisher 1 0 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker 0 1 1
Wren 2 1 3
Dunnock 1 0 1
Cetti's Warbler 1 1 2
Sedge Warbler 2 0 2
Reed Warbler 1 1 2
Blackcap 4 0 4
Willow Warbler 1 0 1
Blue Tit 1 1 2
Great Tit 0 3 3
Chaffinch 4 3 7
Greenfinch 6 5 11
Goldfinch 19 13 32
Siskin 9 9 18
Reed Bunting 4 6 10
  56 44 100

The highlights of the catch were the migrant warblers.  Two reed warbler and two sedge warbler were trapped: one of the reed warblers was a returnee from 2013 (having wintered in sub-Saharan Africa).  None showed significant residual fat deposits.  In addition, we captured a few blackcaps and a very nicely marked willow warbler.

Reed warbler
Sedge warbler

The showiest bird was a kingfisher.  This is the second bird to be caught at the site since ringing recommenced in 2013.  The bill colouration indicated that it was a female (approximately two-thirds of the lower mandible is orange in females - in males at least two-thirds is black).
Finches continued to proliferate, accounting for 68 of the total of 100 birds trapped.  Many were showing cloacal protrusions or brood patches, and it will be interesting to see how much longer they hang around.  The variation in the extent of post juvenile moult in siskins is very interesting - one bird had retained all of its greater coverts, with 2-4 retained greater coverts and retained tertials being normal, and the odd first winter bird retaining only its alula feathers and primary coverts.  The reed bunting total keeps ticking.  The target is 202 birds (including retraps), captured by Barry Stewart at the marsh in 2009.
The overall totals for the marsh for 2014 is shown in the table below:
Species New Re-trapped Total
Kingfisher 1 0 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 3 4
Wren 3 6 9
Dunnock 5 10 15
Robin 1 6 7
Stonechat 2 0 2
Cetti's Warbler 2 3 5
Sedge Warbler 2 0 2
Reed Warbler 1 1 2
Blackcap 5 0 5
Chiffchaff 5 0 5
Willow Warbler 5 0 5
Goldcrest 2 1 3
Blue Tit 65 95 160
Great Tit 14 40 54
Chaffinch 37 6 43
Greenfinch 126 20 146
Goldfinch 166 32 198
Siskin 33 10 43
Bullfinch 3 2 5
Reed Bunting 66 34 100
Total: 545 269 814

Nearly all the birds were trapped in the scrub, with only 4-5 in the reebed and 2 in the bund nets.  We are still learning how to work the site most effectively!
Finally, we recently heard back about a great tit controlled at the marsh in late February.  While most tit recoveries tend to involve birds moving a few km, this bird (originally ringed in Briton Ferry) had moved approximately 25km (the straight line distance between the two areas).  While we would hope to record more significant 'controls' in 2014, this is of some interest nevertheless.

Many thanks to Cedwyn Davies, Charlie Sargent and Keith Vaughton for a very enjoyable session yesterday.

Owain Gabb