Sunday, 12 June 2016

Oxwich Marsh 12 June 2016: returning to form with a century

The forecast over the previous twenty-four hours had varied considerably, and it was looking like we might be rained off as recently as the evening before. It therefore came as some surprise that the conditions were perfect for ringing for much of the morning: it was virtually windless, very warm and largely dry, with fog over the nearby higher ground that occasionally drifted over the marsh.

The catch of 100 birds was considerably better than that of recent sessions (80 last week and 56 the week before). The features of the catch were six new stonechats, a recaptured grasshopper warbler, an aged reed warbler and the first fledgling blue and great tits of the year to date.

Species
Ringed
Recaptured
Total
Great Spotted Woodpecker
1
4
5
Dunnock
1
1
2
Robin
3
1
4
Stonechat
6
0
6
Grasshopper Warbler
0
1
1
Sedge Warbler
0
6
6
Reed Warbler
1
3
4
Whitethroat
2
1
3
Blackcap
0
1
1
Chiffchaff
0
1
1
Blue Tit
5
3
8
Great Tit
4
3
7
Chaffinch
15
3
18
Greenfinch
4
0
4
Goldfinch
16
9
25
Siskin
2
0
2
Reed Bunting
2
1
3
Total
62
38
100

The stonechats had been present the evening before while the lengthening grass in the rides was cut using a strimmer. They appeared to comprise a family group, and the party captured was made up of five juveniles and an adult female. Unfortunately, the striking adult male of the night before was not in evidence.

Juvenile stonechats (Keith Vaughton)
Stonechat (juv)
The grasshopper warbler was captured among scrub. It was a male and showed the vestiges of a cloacal protrusion (this had been in greater evidence when it had been ringed in mid-May). Its continued presence on the marsh suggests that it has bred locally. A grasshopper warbler was also heard reeling in a different part of the marsh during the session, suggesting the potential presence of two territories around the ringing site.

The aged reed warbler referred to above had been ringed as an adult on 22 July 2008 indicating it is in at least its tenth calendar year, and approaching (a minimum of) nine years of age. The oldest reed warbler on record is in excess of 12 years of age, so ours has a while to go yet, albeit the bird may well be old enough to be mentioned in the end of year dispatches produced by the BTO (their annual ringing round up).

Otherwise the fledglings continued to rain in, with a cohort of 1JJ blue tits (all with primaries in pin) and a few great tits being new youngsters for the year. Young chaffinches are abundant at present, as are goldfinches, but we await our first fledgling warblers of the season.

Thanks to today's crew of Keith Vaughton, Wayne Morris, Darren Hicks, Dan Rouse and Val Wilson.

Owain Gabb
11/06/2016

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