Monday, 28 September 2015

Oxwich March 23 & 26 September 2015: meadow pipits, reed buntings and a few late long-distance migrants

A short mid-week session and a longer Saturday session (with more net) both proved worthwhile.  A total of 172 birds were processed, with the breakdown as follows:

Species
New Birds
Recaptured
Total
Great Spotted Woodpecker
0
2
2
Meadow Pipit
34
0
34
Wren
2
1
3
Dunnock
5
4
9
Robin
2
2
4
Blackbird
0
1
1
Song Thrush
1
0
1
Reed Warbler
4
0
4
Blackcap
9
0
9
Chiffchaff
11
0
11
Willow Warbler
1
0
1
Blue Tit
19
9
28
Great Tit
2
4
6
Nuthatch
0
2
2
Treecreeper
1
0
1
Chaffinch
16
1
17
Greenfinch
10
0
10
Goldfinch
2
4
6
Siskin
1
0
1
Reed Bunting
19
3
22
Total:
139
33
172

The settled weather seemed to have resulted in the last of the reed and sedge warblers moving out, with four reed warblers and a willow warbler on 23 September possibly being the final sub-Saharan migrants for the marsh this year.  

On Wednesday there had been an influx of reed buntings to the marsh.  These birds apparently moved through very rapidly, as we only trapped three of the overall total of 22 birds on the Saturday. We have now ringed almost 300 reed buntings at the marsh in the past three years (including 236 in 2014 and 2015 so far), and for much of the year re-traps dominate newly ringed birds.

The low catch on the Wednesday (46 in 3 hours in very good ringing conditions) provided good intelligence for Saturday, allowing the amount of net to be increased considerably. This included a pipit triangle, erected in an area of rushy pasture some distance from the normal net rides.  Although we only used it for about 2 hours, it returned a total of 34 meadow pipits.

The pipits showed their usual considerable variation in colouration, streaking, weight (15.g-21.7g [with no bird carrying more than 3 fat]) and wing length (73-86mm).  During the session we only caught one adult bird, which was straightforward to determine due to the uniform colouration of its wing coverts and its fresh primaries.  The first winter birds exhibited wide variation in the extent of post juvenile moult undergone, with some replacing one or more tertials (and others none), considerable differences in the numbers of retained old greater coverts between birds, and some out of sequence moult of both median and greater coverts noted.

Meadow pipit
Meadow pipit (a yellower bird than the above)

Comparison of 1st winter (left) and adult (right) wings (photo Keith Vaughton)

In the photo above the uniform coloration of the wing coverts of the adult bird is apparent, as are the small points in the dark centres of the median coverts (as opposed to the longer thorns in the first winter bird).  For more interesting pictures of early autumn meadow pipits, see: 
http://cornishringing.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/meadow-pipit-legs-and-poldark-encounter.html

Visible migration of siskins over the last week has not resulted in large numbers visiting the feeders to date (albeit we did trap one on the Saturday), despite the large flocks of greenfinches and goldfinches that might have been expected to draw them in.

Thanks to all of those who have made it out last week: Val Wilson, Heather Coats, Emma Cole, Charlie Sargent, Keith Vaughton, Dan Rouse and Suze Lewis.

Owain Gabb

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