Sunday, 4 October 2015

Oxwich Marsh 3 October: a double century

A very calm, sometimes overcast morning with a light easterly wind saw our biggest catch at the marsh (in a standard ringing session) to date, 218 birds.  The numbers resulted in an excellent session for the five trainees present.

We put out a total of 900 feet of net in a range of habitats including reedbed, scrub, tall rush-dominated marsh and woodland.

The catch was as follows:

Species
New
Re-trap
Total
Great Spotted Woodpecker
0
1
1
Skylark
1
0
1
Meadow Pipit
4
0
4
Pied Wagtail
1
0
1
Wren
1
2
3
Dunnock
1
3
4
Robin
2
5
7
Stonechat
1
0
1
Blackbird
4
0
4
Song Thrush
2
0
2
Cetti's Warbler
2
1
3
Reed Warbler
2
0
2
Whitethroat
1
0
1
Blackcap
10
0
10
Chiffchaff
2
0
2
Goldcrest
7
0
7
Blue Tit
19
22
41
Great Tit
1
7
8
Nuthatch
0
2
2
Treecreeper
1
0
1
Chaffinch
16
4
20
Greenfinch
43
15
58
Goldfinch
22
6
28
Lesser Redpoll
1
0
1
Reed Bunting
5
1
6
Total:
149
69
218

The highlights were a skylark, a pied wagtail (a first winter bird), our tenth new stonechat of the year, a few late long-distance migrants (reed warblers and a whitethroat), a reasonable number of blackcaps and goldcrests, our fifth treecreeper of the year, a lesser redpoll, and good number of the commoner finch species, including a day total of 58 greenfinches.

We had put up a pipit triangle, but very little pipit movement was apparent overhead.  We tried playing skylark, and a few birds started to fly around the nets, of which we trapped one. However, no significant skylark passage was noted during the course of the morning, and these birds rapidly moved on.

Pied wagtails had roosted in the reedbed, with 30-40 birds present.  We caught one on the way out, a first winter bird with a nice break in the greater coverts that made ageing very straightforward.

The whitethroat, a young bird, was carrying a good amount of fat (score of 6), but the reed warblers appeared in poor condition for migration, with one having very little pectoral muscle and neither carrying visible fat deposits.  The blackcap and goldcrest numbers were pretty much as expected for the time of year, albeit both are very nice species to process and offer reasonable potential for interesting recapture data.  

The number of chiffchaff remains far lower than in 2014, and there is no indication of a late influx. We don't capture massive numbers by some people's standards, but in September 2014 we caught 71, while in September of this year we only caught 26.  We would expect the catch to drop off in October, but only 2 birds in the first session of the month was unexpected.

We do catch a lot of finches though, and as a result of the session are now up to 212 unique* chaffinch for the year and almost 400 of both goldfinch (379) and greenfinch (388). Hopefully the influx of siskin over recent weeks will see birds starting to come into the feeders before Christmas, and with any luck they will bring some redpoll with them.  There are redpoll in the marsh at present, but these tend to be small parties in scattered alder and willow, and they are not coming in to the feeders.

Of additional interest were grass snakes, which were present on the banks of the bund, and which were photographed by Keith.  

Thanks to Heather Coats, Cedwyn Davies, Keith Vaughton, Darren Hicks, Wayne Morris, Dan Rouse, Emma Cole, Val Wilson and Suze Lewis for coming along this morning, and the work put in by all in what was a tiring but rewarding session

Photos are below

Owain Gabb
04/10/2015

*unique birds = newly ringed birds in 2015 plus birds ringed in previous years and recaptured on the marsh during the current calendar year / ringed elsewhere and re-captured on the marsh.

Lesser redpoll (Owain Gabb)

Common darter (Owain Gabb)

Grass snake (Keith Vaughton)

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