Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Oxwich Marsh Ringing Report 2014

In 2014 we really increased the effort at Oxwich, following a year of reconnaissance in 2013. 
The increase in effort was only possible due to the commitment of the group, which also runs two Constant Effort Sites (at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Site at Penclacwydd and at Kenfig [under the guise of Kenfig Ringing Group]) and a Re-trapping Adults for Survival project on pied flycatcher at Cwm Clydach.  As the group is relatively small, and individuals also have their own projects, this effort has been really appreciated.
The increased effort has also borne fruit.  In 2014 we captured 3,567 unique birds of 48 species at Oxwich.  These included 3,371 new birds, as well as many recaptures from 2013 and a few controls (birds initially ringed at other sites).  Among the latter were a dunnock, initially ringed in Suffolk  (this was possibly the most notable as this species is seldom recorded making substantial movements), as well as French and Spanish ringed reed and sedge warblers.  The most intriguing of the controls was a Cetti's warbler: hopefully when data are returned they will indicate an interesting movement of this species, which is seldom seen outside wetland habitats, but is clearly capable of considerable dispersal (there have been some very interesting controls by Teifi RG of this species recently).
Highlights of 2014 have included local (relative) scarcities such as jack snipe, wood warbler, yellow-browed warbler and firecrest (3), sub-Saharan migrants including barn swallow (382), tree pipit (13), grasshopper warbler (6), sedge warbler (120), reed warbler (153), lesser whitethroat (2), garden warbler (21) and willow warbler (94).  Shorter distance migrants and resident species have included 7 kingfishers, 48 meadow pipit, 28 Cetti's warblers, 140 chiffchaffs (including one tristis) 300 blackcaps, 73 goldcrests, 101 robins and 158 reed buntings.  Some of the reed buntings were ringed at the marsh over six years ago, when Barry Stewart was active at the site (particularly in spring and autumn).  Finch numbers have been good as well, with 444 unique goldfinch and 355 greenfinch captured, while siskin bred locally, possibly in response to the opportunity presented by our feeding station.
Some photographs are below, and the full report can be found by following this link:
Many thanks to all the ringers and helpers who have contributed so much this year, and to Natural Resources Wales for their support.  We have learnt a lot about the marsh already - 2015 should be a good year.
Owain Gabb
Firecrest (Keith Vaughton)

Kingfisher (Charlie Sargent)

Juvenile male sparrowhawk (Charlie Sargent)

Skylarks (Charlie Sargent)

Snipe (left) and jack snipe (right) (Cedwyn Davies)

Woodpigeon (Owain Gabb)

Wood warbler (Charlie Sargent)

Yellow-browed warbler (Charlie Sargent)

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Oxwich Marsh 4 January 2015: a steady start

No posts for a while, reflecting a quiet Christmas period in ringing terms, as the weather had not been conducive to getting visits in.  When we did, on 28th December, we caught a very modest 14 birds, without any species of note among them, so it wasn't worth a blog post!
It followed that the first session of 2015 didn't seem likely to be a bumper one or to feature anything out of the ordinary.  In the event, however, it was a little better than expected.  In a light to moderate south-easterly wind with overcast skies we caught 35 birds.  The catch was dominated by re-traps.  The breakdown was as follows:

Species New Re-trapped Total
Dunnock 0 1 1
Robin 0 2 2
Chiffchaff 2 0 2
Goldcrest 0 1 1
Blue Tit 3 7 10
Great Tit 0 1 1
Chaffinch 5 1 6
Goldfinch 3 4 7
Siskin 1 0 1
Bullfinch 0 3 3
Reed Bunting 0 1 1
Total: 14 21 35

The features of the catch were the first siskin since June 2014 (when the small breeding population on the marsh dispersed), two overwintering chiffchaff and three re-trapped bullfinch. The siskin was an adult female, and showed uniformly fresh wing and tail feathers.  There were flocks of goldfinches around, but no siskin were heard associating with them, so this was a bonus.  It was also nice to start the year with a couple of chiffchaffs, as few are reported from Gower in the mid-winter period.  The three bullfinches were all in at least their third calendar year (and therefore in full adult plumage), having been ringed in 2013.  They appeared in good condition, so will hopefully make it through until the breeding season.

It was also interesting to re-trap HNV693, a female goldcrest.  This bird was ringed in October 2014, re-trapped in November 2014 and now in early January 2015.  We get very few re-traps of goldcrests (we ringed 72 in 2014 - almost all between mid-September and mid-November inclusive), and the assumption is that they almost all move through.  This bird, however, appears to be wintering on the marsh.
Thanks to Phil Mead, Darren Hicks and Charlie Sargent for company and assistance this morning.

Some photos taken by Charlie of the siskin and two of the three bullfinches are below.

Owain Gabb

Adult male bullfinch (C. Sargent)

Adult female bullfinch (C. Sargent)

Adult female siskin (C. Sargent)