Sunday, 21 September 2014

Oxwich Marsh 20 September 2014

Ideal conditions in the marsh: overcast, warm and virtually windless first thing.  The wind began to pick up from the east a couple of hours after dawn, and we took the nets down at 11:30.

Due to limited personnel (and kit), we only put up nets in the fen meadow and in the scrub.  These areas had proved productive during the previous session, whereas the reed bed had not.  The catch of 65 was slow and steady.  It was made up of the following:

Species New Re-trapped Total
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 0 1
Meadow Pipit 1 0 1
Dunnock 0 2 2
Robin 3 1 4
Whitethroat 1 0 1
Blackcap 3 0 3
Chiffchaff 9 0 9
Goldcrest 1 0 1
Blue Tit 3 7 10
Great Tit 2 3 5
Chaffinch 4 2 6
Greenfinch 0 1 1
Goldfinch 8 8 16
Bullfinch 1 0 1
Reed Bunting 4 0 4
Total: 41 24 65

The features of the catch were our first new great spotted woodpecker for some time (we had been regularly catching ringed birds), the nine chiffchaffs and four reed buntings.  The latter provided an opportunity to have a look at fresh adult plumage, including tail shape, colouration of feathering in the wing, and the edging of the greater coverts in comparison with juvenile birds.  Long distance migrants were notable by their absence, with a single whitethroat trapped, but no reed, sedge or willow warblers.  The whitethroat was carrying a considerable amount of fat (score of 6).

Blackcap numbers were also down in comparison with recent sessions.  However further east along the Welsh coast large numbers were apparently caught by the Cardiff Ringing Group.  The next few sessions will establish whether this was an anomaly.

We also caught a bullfinch.  This bird was still in the middle of its post juvenile moult, but was clearly a male.


Young male bullfinch
A ropey-looking bird!  As well as the changing head, where some remnant brown, juvenile feathering can be seen alongside the red adult-type feathers, retained greater coverts can be seen in the wing.  If the bird does not moult any more coverts, this feature can be used for ageing throughout the winter.

The running total of birds to date at Oxwich (2014) is below:

Species New Re-trapped Total
Sparrowhawk 2 2 4
Woodpigeon 1 0 1
Kingfisher 5 1 6
Great Spotted Woodpecker 10 25 35
Sand Martin 14 0 14
Swallow 382 0 382
House Martin 1 0 1
Tree Pipit 13 0 13
Meadow Pipit 26 0 26
Wren 46 34 80
Dunnock 39 56 95
Robin 77 46 123
Stonechat 3 0 3
Blackbird 22 17 39
Song Thrush 4 0 4
Cetti's Warbler 20 9 29
Grasshopper Warbler 5 0 5
Sedge Warbler 115 10 125
Reed Warbler 141 23 164
Lesser Whitethroat 2 0 2
Whitethroat 42 4 46
Garden Warbler 21 1 22
Blackcap 278 15 293
Wood Warbler 1 0 1
Chiffchaff 75 6 81
Willow Warbler 92 7 99
Goldcrest 11 1 12
Long-tailed Tit 10 1 11
Marsh Tit 2 4 6
Coal Tit 3 0 3
Blue Tit 216 223 439
Great Tit 93 138 231
Treecreeper 1 0 1
Magpie 1 0 1
Starling 2 0 2
Chaffinch 123 34 157
Greenfinch 281 69 350
Goldfinch 275 78 353
Siskin 60 55 115
Bullfinch 13 10 23
Reed Bunting 104 66 170
Total: 2632 935 3567

The two aims by year end are increasing the overall total of new birds to in excess of 3000, an excellent effort for the site for the calendar year, and capturing a couple more species (we currently stand at 41 in 2014) to set a good benchmark for 2015.

Thanks to Charlie Sargent and Keith Vaughton for their company and assistance.

Owain Gabb
21/09/14

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