Saturday, 23 August 2014

Oxwich Marsh 23 August 2014

A bright sunny morning.  Net rounds were excellent until the north-westerly wind picked up at about 09:30, after which it was very slow going. 
 
In addition to 520 feet of net in reedbed edge / young willow scrub (160 feet), reedbed (180 feet) and 'fen meadow' (180 feet), we put up a triangle of three 60 foot nets in the open field.  This was to try and catch pipits: a trip to Kenfig earlier in the week had resulted in 26 tree pipits being captured, which is fairly exceptional in Welsh terms (it exceeded the number of tree pipits captured in Wales in 2013), and we were keen to add a few more to the tally if we could.

The total for the morning was 113 birds.  The breakdown was as follows:

Species New Retrap Total
Sparrowhawk 1 0 1
Kingfisher 1 0 1
Tree Pipit 5 0 5
Wren 4 2 6
Robin 3 2 5
Cetti's Warbler 4 0 4
Grasshopper Warbler 1 0 1
Sedge Warbler 3 0 3
Reed Warbler 10 2 12
Whitethroat 3 0 3
Garden Warbler 4 0 4
Blackcap 13 1 14
Chiffchaff 0 2 2
Willow Warbler 16 0 16
Long-tailed Tit 4 0 4
Marsh Tit 0 1 1
Blue Tit 12 2 14
Great Tit 0 4 4
Chaffinch 3 1 4
Greenfinch 8 1 9
Total: 95 18 113

The catch was very varied (for the site): 20 species.  The highlights were tree pipit (5), grasshopper warbler, our fifth new kingfisher of the year, four Cetti's warblers, and steady numbers of garden warbler, blackcap and willow warbler.  Acro numbers remain low: we did catch 12 reed warblers, but this is fairly unremarkable in a large reedbed!
 
Tree pipit were heard calling regularly over the site this morning.  Birds that were trapped had two measurements taken to confirm species: hind claw length and bill depth.  Hind claw length in tree pipit is shorter than in the similar meadow pipit (7-9mm as opposed to 10-13mm), and the bill is deeper (measured from top to bottom) behind the nostrils (over 4mm in tree pipit).  These measurement were taken with calipers: the bird below had a hind claw of 8.3mm and a bill depth of 4.1mm.  The fine streaks to the flanks can be seen here.  The 'stronger' bill than in meadow pipit was obvious on some of the pipits - the head markings on this first winter bird are not particularly clear, however.  Colouration varied considerably according to the light the birds were in.
 
 
Juvenile tree pipit
Bird numbers in 2014 to date are below.  Three thousand new birds at the site by the end of the year is now the target.  We will need a big September!

Species New Retrap Total
Sparrowhawk 2 0 2
Woodpigeon 1 0 1
Kingfisher 5 1 6
Great Spotted Woodpecker 9 22 31
Sand Martin 1 0 1
Swallow 129 0 129
House Martin 1 0 1
Tree Pipit 5 0 5
Wren 39 25 64
Dunnock 35 39 74
Robin 39 36 75
Stonechat 2 0 2
Blackbird 17 11 28
Cetti's Warbler 11 4 15
Grasshopper Warbler 3 0 3
Sedge Warbler 94 9 103
Reed Warbler 104 21 125
Lesser Whitethroat 2 0 2
Whitethroat 36 1 37
Garden Warbler 16 1 17
Blackcap 159 8 167
Wood Warbler 1 0 1
Chiffchaff 25 3 28
Willow Warbler 77 7 84
Goldcrest 3 1 4
Long-tailed Tit 9 1 10
Marsh Tit 2 1 3
Coal Tit 3 0 3
Blue Tit 169 157 326
Great Tit 84 129 213
Treecreeper 1 0 1
Magpie 1 0 1
Starling 2 0 2
Chaffinch 104 29 133
Greenfinch 256 61 317
Goldfinch 223 53 276
Siskin 60 55 115
Bullfinch 8 6 14
Reed Bunting 90 64 154
Total: 1826 745 2573



Juvenile male Sparrowhawk
 
Juvenile grasshopper warbler
 
In addition to the birds in the reed bed, a goshawk was seen over woodland to the west of the site, initially floating over the canopy, then soaring to considerable altitude.

Many thanks to Cedwyn Davies, Wayne Morris, Heather Coats, Emma Cole, Keith Vaughton, Gail Cobbold (scribe) Barry Stewart and Neil Edwards for company and assistance this morning.  A really good session.

Owain Gabb
23/08/14

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