Sunday, 30 October 2016

Oxwich Marsh 29 October: Jack's back ..... and more YBWs

Perfect ringing weather this Saturday morning: overcast with an almost imperceptible easterly breeze. We set nets on a bund across the marsh, through wet and dry scrub and on the edge one of the freshwater pools.

The catch of eighty-five birds broke down as follows:

Species
Ringed
Recaptured
Total
Jack Snipe
2
1
3
Wren
3
4
7
Dunnock
0
2
2
Robin
2
3
5
Blackbird
0
2
2
Song Thrush
2
1
3
Redwing
4
0
4
Cetti's Warbler
1
1
2
Reed Warbler
1
0
1
Yellow-browed Warbler
1
0
1
Chiffchaff
4
1
5
Goldcrest
8
0
8
Long-tailed Tit
21
0
21
Coal Tit
2
0
2
Blue Tit
3
8
11
Great Tit
1
2
3
Chaffinch
1
0
1
Greenfinch
0
1
1
Goldfinch
1
0
1
Reed Bunting
1
1
2
Total:
58
27
85

The highlights of the catch were:
  • Catching three jack snipe, including a bird initially ringed at the marsh on 12 March 2016. This is the first indication that jack snipe return to the marsh between winters, and is an excellent result. A common snipe escaped from the nets on approach, which was disappointing.
  • The sixteenth yellow-browed warbler of the autumn (and the second of the week). Will this be the last from an exceptional influx year? The tail of the bird suggested a first winter, being very pointed and showing some abrasion. It was carrying significant fat (the tracheal pit was full and it was spilling out over the breast muscles (Fat Score 6)).
  • The latest ever reed warbler captured at the marsh. This was a clear first winter bird. There were no features that suggested another reed warbler species. Although carrying some fat, the sturnum was prominent, suggesting the bird was in poor condition.
  • Another new Cetti's warbler. We have only captured 24 unique birds all year (this total includes retraps from previous years), but have ringed 8 in the past three weeks. This suggests late autumn dispersal into the marsh. Some birds have been carrying fat (scores of up to 4 using the BWG system), which we do not typically record at other times of year.
  • A best ever day count of 21 long-tailed tits ringed. Until October we had trapped only 2 birds at the marsh in 2016. We are now up to 31. This pattern of catching of the species is typical of previous years. The birds are caught in roving flocks moving through the area in late autumn. We look to be on for a similar year-end total to previous years (in 2014 and 2015 31 and 37 unique long-tailed tits were captured respectively).
The (unprecedented) sixteenth yellow-browed warbler of 2016
It is of note that the feeders are quieter at the moment than they have been all year, suggesting there is an abundance of alternative food for finches and tits at present. The weather has been particularly mild during October.

Many thanks to the team of Heather Coats, Keith Vaughton, Paul Aubrey and Wayne Morris for company and assistance.

Owain Gabb
30/10/2016

Yellow-browed warbler


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