Sunday, 31 May 2015

Oxwich Marsh 30 May 2015: fledglings and a new species for the site

A light north-westerly breeze and open skies at dawn, with intermittent cloud during the morning.  Not bad conditions for ringing at all, so we attempted to get a good amount of net up - 860 feet in total.

The catch was a good one: a hundred birds of 21 species.

Species New Re-trapped Total
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 2 3
Wren 0 8 8
Dunnock 0 4 4
Robin 3 1 4
Blackbird 2 2 4
Song Thrush 2 0 2
Mistle Thrush 1 0 1
Cetti's Warbler 0 1 1
Grasshopper Warbler 1 0 1
Sedge Warbler 0 3 3
Reed Warbler 1 0 1
Whitethroat 0 1 1
Blackcap 0 2 2
Blue Tit 2 3 5
Great Tit 6 3 9
Treecreeper 1 0 1
Chaffinch 6 4 10
Greenfinch 3 2 5
Goldfinch 12 8 20
Siskin 3 3 6
Reed Bunting 2 7 9
Total: 46 54 100

The highlights were: our first fledgling goldfinches, greenfinches and chaffinches of the year; juvenile song thrushes, blackbird and robin; a female grasshopper warbler with a well defined brood patch; a good session for reed buntings with 9 trapped; and, the star bird of the day (having not been captured on site previously), a mistle thrush.

The grasshopper warbler was caught in the same net as a male of the same species last week.  In the previous weekly blog post, it was noted that the male was in breeding condition (it had a cloacal protrusion) and was a bird initially ringed on the marsh a month or so before, so it seemed reasonable to assume breeding.  The presence of a female with a brood patch removes any residual doubt that breeding is taking place on the marsh.

Very few mistle thrush are ringed in Wales annually.  In 2013 the total was 10 birds (including 2 pullus).  Over the past year or two, we have started to catch the species relatively regularly however.  This is largely due to the efforts of Cedwyn Davies and Chris Newberry at Margam, but we recently also trapped the species on the Contant Effort Site at WWT Penclacwydd, and yesterday saw the first capture of the species at Oxwich.  The bird, a recently fledged juvenile, was trapped in a ride we created in the spring, and which runs through a mixture of semi-natural scrub and rhododendron next to the main channel through the marsh.  It had a wing length of 152mm and a weight of 102.2g.

It was also good to get a relatively high catch, as the weather appears to have been a real factor in limiting capture rates in recent months.  Overall, the total of unique birds captured is now similar to this time in 2014, albeit we have completed a good number more sessions.

Thanks to Heather Coats, Keith Vaughton, Charlie Sargent, Lyndon Jeffrey and Dan Rouse for company and assistance yesterday.

Photos of the mistle thrush, taken by Keith, are below.

Owain Gabb
31/05/2015
Juvenile mistle thrush

Juvenile mistle thrush

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

WWT Llanelli CES3 25/05/2015

Light winds and mainly overcast sky's were ideal conditions. However, in the first 3 hrs only 7 birds had been caught which is usually the best part of the morning. Having said that the air was filled with bird song and we talked at length without coming to a positive conclusion why it was such a slow start with so many birds around. Usually around 10.00am we only catch the odd bird but on this occasion the catch rate improved. The Long Tailed Tit flock of nine birds helped, 4 of which were new birds and the re-traps being caught on CES1 and CES2. Also worthy of note were the 2 Blackcaps and 2 Chiffchaffs but the highlight of the morning was a Lesser Whitethroat.


A quick check of the ringing book showed only one other bird had been caught since 2010 and this was on CES3 last year on the 26th May, so it is a bit of a coincidence to catch another bird today exactly a year apart except for one day.

The total catch for the day was 25 birds a few less than CES2 this year and CES3 last year. Compared with some of the poor sessions in the last couple of years the feeling is the staff at WWT have done a great job reducing the height and thinning out many of the trees in and around our net rides. The results are speaking for themselves and have improved.


Species
New
Re-trap
Total
Wren

2
2
Robin
3
1
4
Blackcap
1
1
2
Dunnock

1
1
Blackbird
1
2
3
Lesser Whitethroat
1

1
Chiffchaff
1
1
2
Bullfinch

1
1
Long Tailed Tit
4
5
9
Totals
11
14
25

Many thanks to Heather Coats, Charlie Sargent, Gail Cobbold and Wendy Hall for running the session today.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Oxwich Marsh 23 May 2015: a Gower Society Grant and a Grasshopper Warbler

The highlight of the week was news that our grant application to the Gower Society had been successful.  We had been hopeful that the Society would be willing to help support ringing effort on the marsh, as they support various conservation projects in the area.  The grant will carry us through the rest of the year, and into 2016, and will cover the cost of rings and seed for the feeders.  Brilliant news for the Group.
 
Another positive was that the weather was good, as recent sessions have been few and far between due to persistent moderate winds and spells of showery weather.
 
The catch of 71 birds (20 species) was as follows:
 
Species New Re-trapped Total
Great Spotted Woodpecker 1 2 3
Wren 1 1 2
Dunnock 0 3 3
Robin 2 1 3
Blackbird 1 2 3
Song Thrush 1 0 1
Cetti's Warbler 0 1 1
Grasshopper Warbler 0 1 1
Sedge Warbler 2 1 3
Reed Warbler 3 1 4
Whitethroat 1 0 1
Blackcap 1 0 1
Long-tailed Tit 1 0 1
Blue Tit 1 3 4
Great Tit 2 3 5
Chaffinch 0 2 2
Greenfinch 3 4 7
Goldfinch 5 4 9
Siskin 10 3 13
Reed Bunting 2 2 4
Total: 37 34 71
 
The most welcome aspects of the catch were the first juvenile robins, siskins and long-tailed tit of the year, re-trapping a sedge warbler from 2014 and a reed warbler first ringed in 2013, and proof that grasshopper warbler is holding territory on the marsh in 2015.
 
Evidence that grasshopper warbler is at least trying to breed was provided when a bird first ringed just over a month ago was recaptured.  The fact that it is still present on the marsh, and had a clear cloacal protrusion both suggest it is likely to be breeding.  At the least it is reasonable to assume it is holding territory.  No clear evidence of grasshopper warbler holding territory on the site was gained in 2013 or 2014, although the site is used by passage birds from the second week of April into May on an annual basis.
 
Locally breeding siskin, for the second successive year, is also good news.  We captured seven juveniles among the day-total of 13.  The adults included a bird first ringed in Somerset (we know this as we have captured it on several occasions and have received information form the British Trust for Ornithology).  Based on last year, we will have siskins for a few more weeks, and then probably won't see them again in the nets until March 2016.
 
Many thanks to Valerie Wilson, Keith Vaughton, Charlie Sargent, Heather Coats and Emma Cole for company and assistance this morning.
 
More information about the Gower Society can be found here: http://www.thegowersociety.org.uk/
 
Some photographs are below.
 
Owain Gabb
23/05/2015
 
Male grasshopper warbler.  The first confirmation of a territory on the marsh in the last few years

Recently fledged siskin

Recently fledged siskin, showing broad creamy yellow fringes to the tertials and greater coverts
 

Friday, 15 May 2015

Lots of Lottis at CES 2





Heather Coats, Charlie Sargent, Phil Mead and Dan Rouse joined forces for the second Constant Effort Site (CES) session at WWT Llanelli today. We heard Long tailed tits calling in the trees and then caught ten of them, a mixture of adults and juveniles - the first juveniles this year from this early breeding species. About two hours later we had another eight! 
The other highlight was a second Mistle thrush for the site, this time a female. 

Total for the session:

Species
New
Re-trap
Total
Cetti's warbler

1
1
Wren
1
2
3
Dunnock

1
1
Long tailed tit
14
4
18
Blackcap
1
2
3
Mistle thrush
1

1
Chiff chaff
1
1
2
Bullfinch
1
1
2
Great tit
3

3
Totals
22
12
34