Sunday, 14 December 2014

13 December 2014: a few redwings and a yellow blackcap

A break in the weather, as a short-lived band of high pressure moved through, enabled us to get a session in at the marsh.  There was a very light north-westerly breeze and open skies.  This meant that the nets were still, but rapidly became visible.  We took them down late morning. 
 
We limited ourselves to three nets in the fen meadow (180 feet) and three in the scrub (160 feet), and also put an experimental net through an area of reed that Natural Resources Wales had cut during the week.  This is unlikely to be repeated, as we didn't catch a bird in it all morning!
 
The feeders had been emptying quickly, so we were hoping for a good catch in terms of numbers: this did not materialise, but the range of species captured was good.  The catch was as follows:

Species New Re-trapped Total
Wren 1 1 2
Dunnock 0 1 1
Robin 0 1 1
Redwing 3 0 3
Blackcap 2 0 2
Chiffchaff 1 0 1
Goldcrest 2 0 2
Long-tailed Tit 0 1 1
Blue Tit 3 9 12
Great Tit 1 1 2
Chaffinch 1 0 1
Greenfinch 1 0 1
Goldfinch 0 3 3
Total: 15 17 32

The highlights of the catch were a few redwings, two blackcaps and a chiffchaff.  Redwings are gradually moving into the area, and small parties appeared to have roosted around the marsh.  All of our birds were caught during the first net round (albeit one escaped from a net on approach during the second round).  The blackcaps (a male and a female) and chiffchaff were good bonuses as they are likely to be wintering birds.  It will be interesting to see if they are re-trapped over the remainder of the winter.
 
One of the blackcaps had pollen deposits around its beak and head.  Pictures are below, but these fail to really capture how obvious the yellow was, and how odd the bird looked as a result:
 
Male blackcap with pollen deposit

Male blackcap
 
The morning was relatively slow.  We therefore took a car load of us down to Oxwich Bay mid-morning to scan the inshore waters at high tide, leaving a skeleton crew to man the nets.  A raft of common scoter was noted in the outer bay, and both shag and cormorant were present, but there was no sign of the two first winter great northern divers that had been seen close inshore a couple of days before.  Gadwall numbers are increasing on the South Pond, with 48 present (along with two shoveler and small numbers of mallard).

Totals for the year to date are below:

Species New Re-trapped Total
1 Sparrowhawk 3 2 5
2 Jack Snipe 1 0 1
3 Snipe 11 0 11
4 Woodpigeon 1 0 1
5 Kingfisher 7 1 8
6 Great Spotted Woodpecker 11 26 37
7 Skylark 2 0 2
8 Sand Martin 14 0 14
9 Swallow 382 0 382
10 House Martin 1 0 1
11 Tree Pipit 13 0 13
12 Meadow Pipit 48 1 49
13 Wren 60 49 109
14 Dunnock 54 84 138
15 Robin 93 67 160
16 Stonechat 6 2 8
17 Blackbird 28 21 49
18 Song Thrush 6 1 7
19 Redwing 8 0 8
20 Cetti's Warbler 23 13 36
21 Grasshopper Warbler 6 0 6
22 Sedge Warbler 116 10 126
23 Reed Warbler 144 23 167
24 Lesser Whitethroat 2 0 2
25 Whitethroat 42 4 46
26 Garden Warbler 21 1 22
27 Blackcap 299 16 315
28 Yellow-browed Warbler 1 0 1
29 Wood Warbler 1 0 1
30 Chiffchaff 140 6 146
31 Willow Warbler 92 7 99
32 Goldcrest 72 3 75
33 Firecrest 3 0 3
34 Long-tailed Tit 24 14 38
35 Marsh Tit 2 5 7
36 Coal Tit 3 0 3
37 Blue Tit 311 305 616
38 Great Tit 107 153 260
39 Treecreeper 1 0 1
40 Magpie 1 0 1
41 Starling 2 0 2
42 Chaffinch 189 38 227
43 Brambling 1 0 1
44 Greenfinch 353 82 435
45 Goldfinch 443 173 616
46 Siskin 60 55 115
47 Bullfinch 15 11 26
48 Reed Bunting 144 73 217
Total: 3367 1246 4613

 It is looking like we will reach approximately 3,500 new birds at the marsh during the calendar year, a very respectable total. 

Thanks to Keith Vaughton, Heather Coats, Cedwyn Davies, Charlie Sargent, Emma Cole and Gail Cobbold for company and assistance this morning.

Owain Gabb
14/12/2014

2 comments:

  1. I wonder if there is much Mahonia in flower in the gardens around Oxwich. It is the only flower I have seen Blackcaps using in winter.

    Nigel

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  2. Thanks Nigel. Seems a very plausible theory that that is what the blackcap was feeding on. There are lots of pics of blackcap using Mahonia on the internet.

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