Sunday, 14 August 2016

Oxwich Marsh 14 August: sixteen tree pipits!

A virtually windless and overcast morning provided ideal conditions for ringing. We put up a total of 960 feet of net in a series of lines through the reed bed and in reed bed edge habitat along with a pipit triangle in rushy pasture.

It was a steady morning. The settled weather during the preceding night may have resulted in some birds clearing out, but the mix of birds and the numbers of some species were excellent.

The catch was as follows:

Species
Ringed
Recaptured
Total
Snipe
1
0
1
House Martin
1
0
1
Tree Pipit
16
0
16
Wren
8
3
11
Blackbird
1
0
1
Grasshopper Warbler
1
0
1
Sedge Warbler
17
1
18
Reed Warbler
11
6
17
Whitethroat
2
0
2
Garden Warbler
5
0
5
Blackcap
1
0
1
Chiffchaff
2
0
2
Willow Warbler
41
3
44
Blue Tit
1
0
1
Reed Bunting
0
3
3
Total:
108
16
124

Tree pipit (Paul Aubrey)
The features of the catch were sixteen tree pipits (the best day for the site to date); single snipe, house martin and grasshopper warbler, five garden warblers, an excellent day total of 44 willow warblers (including a control) and the recapture of an aged reed bunting.

There was considerable passage of tree pipit overhead during the morning, with at least 25 birds noted. The first bird in the nets was captured approximately an hour after dawn, with numbers then increasing, and one mid-morning net round returning seven birds. The hind claw of the tree pipits was measured to confirm species (they have a shorter claw than meadow pipit). However, most were instantly recognisable as tree pipit based on plumage features. All were young of the year.

Snipe (Paul Aubrey)
The house martin was the third of the year and the grasshopper warbler the twelfth. The martin was in the lowest shelf of a forty foot net, which seemed unlikely!  More unlikely however was a snipe; the species is relatively scarce in Gower in August, and was assumedly foraging in mud caused by foot fall adjacent to one of the net rides.

Garden warbler is very much a mid to late August bird at the marsh, based on results from previous years (albeit we have captured a few birds in September). One of the five birds was aged as an adult, based on wear and bleaching of the flight feathers, with the others being pristine juveniles.
House martin (Emma Cole)
Willow warblers were everywhere, and it was good to secure our first control of the species. We will await the details with interest.


Finally, the reed bunting was ringed in August 2010, and was therefore at least six years of age. The brood patch was still feathering up. The head was very dark, superficially similar to a male, but with brown flecking and an incomplete off-white neck collar.

Thanks very much to this morning's team of Keith Vaughton, Wayne Morris, Paul Aubrey, Emma Cole, Darren Hicks and Sammy-Jo Pengelly.

Further photos are below.

Owain Gabb
14/08/2016

Garden warbler (Owain Gabb)


Great green bush cricket (female) (Paul Aubrey)
Larva of the sawfly Athalia scutellariae (thanks to Barry Stewart for the ID).
Whitethroat (Emma Cole)


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