Monday, 14 September 2015

The Welsh Ringing Course 11-14 September 2015

The Welsh Ringing Course took place between the afternoon of Friday 11 September and late morning of Monday 14 September.

There were fourteen course participants, whose aspirations ranged between simply gaining more experience, to being assessed for (one of) their 'C', 'A' or Training Permits.  The course was led by Kelvin Jones, the Wales Development Officer for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).  Other ringing trainers present were Heather Coats of the Gower Ringing Group, Allison Kew (BTO), Martin Hughes (independent trainer and former member of the BTO Ringing Committee) and Gwyn Roberts. Practical support was provided by members of the Gower and Kenfig Ringing Groups and Viola Ross-Smith (BTO).

The weather over the four days was very mixed.  The wind direction veered between westerly and south-easterly, and was generally higher than ideal.  Regular showers and spells of heavy rain, particularly on the Saturday, when the participants split into two teams and went to Oxwich and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Reserve at Llanelli respectively, made the role of the support team (or helpers) critical.

Over the four days 409 birds of 31 species were processed.  The breakdown was as follows:

Species
New
Re-trapped
Total
Great Spotted Woodpecker
0
1
1
Sand Martin
1
0
1
Swallow
109
1
110
Meadow Pipit
7
0
7
Pied/White Wagtail
1
0
1
Treecreeper
2
1
3
Wren
2
4
6
Dunnock
1
5
6
Robin
3
8
11
Whinchat
1
0
1
Stonechat
3
0
3
Blackbird
1
3
4
Song Thrush
1
1
2
Cetti's Warbler
1
2
3
Grasshopper Warbler
1
0
1
Sedge Warbler
42
1
43
Reed Warbler
13
1
14
Whitethroat
1
0
1
Blackcap
33
3
36
Chiffchaff
7
1
8
Willow Warbler
2
0
2
Goldcrest
4
0
4
Long-tailed Tit
9
4
13
Blue Tit
19
16
35
Great Tit
2
22
24
Nuthatch
0
1
1
Chaffinch
6
3
9
Greenfinch
16
8
24
Goldfinch
14
6
20
Siskin
1
3
4
Reed Bunting
7
4
11
Total:
310
99
409

The highlights were capturing:
  • Over forty sedge warblers.  All were recently fledged birds;
  • 110 swallows, including a 'control' bird (an individual originally ringed elsewhere and re-trapped [at Oxwich]);
  • A first winter pied/white wagtail, a bird which resulted in much deliberation and was not conclusively determined to race (some birds cannot be based on current knowledge);
  • The second whinchat for Oxwich for the year (another first winter bird); and,
  • The eleventh grasshopper warbler of the year at Oxwich.

A spotted flycatcher evaded capture on the final morning, and raptors noted at Oxwich included goshawk (2), sparrowhawk (which bounced out of one of the nets), kestrel, red kite and buzzard.

Although most of the course revolved around diurnal mist-netting, a spring-trapping session on the storm beach at Overton (with the permission of the Wildlife Trust) led by Cedwyn Davies of Gower Ringing Group, and an evening swallow roost session provided some variation.  Between busy periods, talks were given by Allison Kew to course participants.

(Most of) Team B at Overton.  L-R Colin Gunnell, Suze Lewis, Martin Hughes, Ed Stubbings and Patrick Hancock
Ageing and sexing a whinchat.  L-R Ed Stubbings, Paul Aubrey and Kevin May
The course was very enjoyable, with many participants making positive comments, and a number of people receiving / being recommended for permit upgrades.

Thanks are due to members of the Gower and Kenfig Ringing Groups who gave up their time to enable the course to run smoothly.  In particular Cedwyn Davies and Phil Mead for running the spring trapping session at Overton (as well as their help on site at Oxwich), Dan Rouse and Valerie Wilson (for patiently transcribing data) and to Chris Newberry, Keith Vaughton, Darren Hicks and Paul Aubrey for assisting in numerous ways.

Thanks are also due to Nick Edwards of Natural Resources Wales for supporting the course and encouraging ringing at Oxwich, to the WWT for continued permission to ring on their Llanelli reserve, and to The Gower Society who have provided financial support (a grant) to ringing at Oxwich in 2015.

Owain Gabb
14/09/2015

1 comment:

  1. Can I second the thanks to the Gower ringing group, NRW, WWT for hosting the event. Special thanks to all the helpers, field assistants, the back room team without whom the course would not have been possible. As Owain said the weather was far from favourable and limited what else we were able to offer participants, fortunately unlike 2014 we did not have a hurricane. Again many thanks to all who made the weekend a success and allowed me to make a number of new friends, a much forgotten component of courses.

    Kelvin

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