Saturday, 10 October 2015

Oxwich Marsh 9-10 October 2015: crests, chiffs and creepers

A very light easterly breeze on Friday and a moderate south-easterly wind on Saturday saw us complete sessions on back-to-back days.  Due to limited personnel we only put out a few nets on each occasion.  

The results were very interesting, with 119 birds of 16 species captured (80 of these on the Friday).  The breakdown was as follows:

Species
New Birds
Re-traps
Totals
Green Woodpecker
1
0
1
Meadow Pipit
4
0
4
Wren
4
2
6
Dunnock
0
1
1
Robin
1
2
3
Blackcap
3
0
3
Chiffchaff
16
0
16
Goldcrest
65
0
65
Firecrest
2
0
2
Long-tailed Tit
1
0
1
Blue Tit
5
0
5
Great Tit
1
0
1
Treecreeper
2
0
2
Chaffinch
1
0
1
Lesser Redpoll
1
0
1
Reed Bunting
6
1
7
Total:
113
6
119

Over the two days the highlights were the total of 65 goldcrest (41 on the Friday and 24 on the Saturday), 2 firecrests, 2 treecreepers a lesser redpoll and a green woodpecker.

The goldcrests were aged based on the shape of the tips of the tail feathers (occasionally fault bars were present which made things easier): adults have rounder tips to the tail feathers than young birds. Fifty of the goldcrests were determined as first winter birds, 1 as an adult, and 14 were not specifically aged as their characteristics were intermediate.

The capture of two firecrests was very welcome.  We have now captured the species on the marsh in each of the last three years.  The birds were both males and had wing lengths of 54 mm and 56 mm and weighed 5 g and 5.2 g respectively.  In 2014 we captured three female birds, 2 on 25 October and 1 on 1 November, while the only bird in 2013 was a male on 16 November.  There is therefore plenty of time to equal, and hopefully exceed the tally from 2013.

The treecreepers appeared to be associated with roving flocks of goldcrests and chiffchaff, and were caught alongside them.  A very attractive species in the hand, albeit one that is not possible to specifically age with confidence.  Catching seven individuals on the marsh in 2015 is a far more respectable tally than the singleton in 2014.

The lesser redpoll would probably not be particularly notable to many ringers, but it is a species that we don't often catch as a group.  Prior to 2015, there were only 15 records in the Gower Ringing Group database, but we have now captured the species on successive weekends.  Siskins are now coming into the feeders on the marsh.  We didn't try netting around them this weekend, as the numbers of birds might have proved too much for the team we had (and would have certainly doubled and probably trebled the total).  Hopefully the redpoll may join the siskin flocks as the winter moves on

The green woodpecker, a first winter male, responded to playback of a call.  It had been noted calling nearby (birds often commute over the marsh between parkland in the Penrice Estate and the dunes to the landward side of Oxwich Bay)

A couple of excellent sessions, albeit not with massive numbers of birds.  Given that a number of people are on holiday, the efforts of the remaining ringing team have been much appreciated.

Thanks to Paul Aubrey and Cedwyn Davies for running the session on Friday and to Emma Cole, Wayne Morris and Darren Hicks for their company this morning.

Owain Gabb
10/10/2015

Firecrest (Paul Aubrey)
Lesser redpoll (Paul Aubrey)

Green woodpecker (Paul Aubrey)

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