Saturday, 28 June 2014

Oxwich Marsh 28 June: a day of blackcaps

A very light south-westerly wind and warm, cloudy conditions were ideal for ringing.  Three different online weather forecasts had made differing assessments of the chance of rain over the morning, but thankfully none materialised.

The catch was excellent.  A total of 124 birds (20 species) was made up of the following:

Species New Re-trapped Total
Woodpigeon 1 0 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker 0 1 1
Wren 5 0 5
Dunnock 0 1 1
Robin 2 5 7
Blackbird 2 0 2
Cetti's Warbler 1 1 2
Sedge Warbler 0 1 1
Reed Warbler 2 1 3
Whitethroat 1 0 1
Blackcap 25 0 25
Chiffchaff 2 0 2
Long-tailed Tit 0 1 1
Blue Tit 14 6 20
Great Tit 9 7 16
Chaffinch 4 3 7
Greenfinch 6 3 9
Goldfinch 5 1 6
Siskin 1 2 3
Reed Bunting 3 8 11
Total: 83 41 124

The highlight was without doubt the 25 blackcaps.  All but one were recently fledged juveniles, with the other being an adult male.  Other features were the eleven reed bunting, the first Cetti's warblers in a little while, a control siskin, and a woodpigeon.


The woodpigeon was an adult, but the biometrics were within the zone of overlap between the sexes, so we could not say whether it was male or female.  It was a first for Charlie.

Of greater interest was this whitethroat (left).  It was a female which was in the process of re-feathering its brood patch, and was only the second of this species to be trapped on the marsh in 2014.

The number of reed bed warblers trapped remained low, with a few reed warblers and a single sedge warbler during the session.  The total of new birds in 2014 in now only 15 short of 1000 

Thanks to Heather Coats, Charlie Sargent, Keith Vaughton, Wayne Morris, Hannah Meinertzhagen, Julian and Fiona Trevino-Villarreal for company and assistance this morning.

Owain Gabb

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Oxwich Marsh 25 June 2014

Another bright, warm morning with a light southerly breeze.  We only erected 140 feet of net, as were aware of the potential to be swamped by juvenile birds (particularly tits).

In summary, a steady session: it was the first time I can remember trapping six different great spotted woodpeckers in a session, albeit only one was un-ringed; it was nice to keep ticking along with juvenile blackcaps, chiffchaffs and reed buntings; we trapped only the third bullfinch of the year (last year there seemed to be a breeding pair close by); and we caught a sparrowhawk.  The sparrowhawk was the first for the site since 2008.  The total of 64 was made up of the following:

Species New Re-trapped Total
Sparrowhawk 1 0 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 5 6
Wren 0 1 1
Dunnock 1 2 3
Robin 1 3 4
Blackbird 1 2 3
Blackcap 3 0 3
Chiffchaff 2 0 2
Blue Tit 5 5 10
Great Tit 3 7 10
Chaffinch 4 4 8
Greenfinch 2 0 2
Goldfinch 2 5 7
Bullfinch 0 1 1
Reed Bunting 2 1 3
Total: 28 36 64

The sparrowhawk was sexed based on its wing length and the length of its tarsus.  Females are substantially larger than males.  The biometrics of our bird did not fall into the zone of overlap between sexes, and the bird (a young male) also looked small in the net and in the hand. 

Thanks to Charlie Sargent for coming along this morning (hope you are healing up well!), and nice to meet up with Nick Edwards of Natural Resources Wales after a number of near misses!

Owain Gabb

Monday, 23 June 2014

CES 6 at WWT Llanelli

Phil Mead, Charlie Sargent and I joined Heather Coats for the sixth CES of the season at the Wildlife & Wetlands Trust's 'Llanelli Wetlands Centre'
The normal one hundred and seventeen metres of mist netting was erected in the three rides plus a supplementary eighteen metre net set away from the CES site for training purposes.
The number of birds netted in the first half of the session tailed off after 09:30 as the temperature increased and possibly the bird population sought shelter as did the ringers, with the thermometer indicating twenty-five degrees Celsius.
Totals for the day:
CES Nets



Blue Tit




Great Spotted Woodpecker


Great Tit





Additional  Net

Blue Tit

Great Tit


Long Tailed Tit

Grand Total

Female Jay

 Great Spotted Woodpecker

Female Broad-bodied Chaser

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Oxwich Marsh 21 June 2014

A moderate northerly breeze gradually dropped over the morning, which was otherwise bright and increasingly warm. 

The catch was again dominated by juvenile birds.  The total of 86 was made up as follows:

Species New Re-trapped Total
Great Spotted Woodpecker 2 3 5
Wren 2 1 3
Dunnock 2 1 3
Robin 2 4 6
Blackbird 1 2 3
Reed Warbler 2 0 2
Blackcap 11 0 11
Chiffchaff 1 0 1
Willow Warbler 1 0 1
Blue Tit 4 5 9
Great Tit 12 7 19
Chaffinch 5 2 7
Greenfinch 1 1 2
Goldfinch 7 0 7
Reed Bunting 4 3 7
Total: 57 29 86

Of greatest interest were the first fledged chiffchaff and reed warbler for the site in 2014.  It was also particularly welcome to catch more fledged reed buntings, blackcaps and great spotted woodpeckers, while a moulting female willow warbler was among the few adult birds trapped.  However the session was fairly uneventful, with a typical range of species caught for the time of year.

The willow warbler is pictured here.  Due to its moult stage it was very scruffy, and had a large bald spot on its head.

The BTO has now uploaded all ringing data by county for 2013 to its website.  The information can be found at the following link:

One entry provides windows into the life of one of the Oxwich sedge warblers (L040109).  This bird was ringed on the marsh in August 2010, was controlled in Djoudj National Park, Senegal, during January 2011 (assumedly wintering), and was then trapped on the River Almond near Edinburgh Airport in June 2013 (assumedly breeding).  This shows the type of data that can be obtained through ringing that would never be possible through conventional bird watching.

Thanks to Cedwyn Davies, Heather Coats, Wayne Morris, Emma Cole and Hannah Meinertzhagen for company and assistance this morning.

Owain Gabb