Saturday, 19 November 2016

Oxwich Marsh 19 November: the latest Welsh reed warbler?

A cold morning with very little wind, occasional showers and variable cloud cover.

The modest catch of 41 birds was as follows:

Species
Ringed
Recaptured
Total
Jack Snipe
2
0
2
Snipe
1
0
1
Wren
1
0
1
Reed Warbler
0
1
1
Goldcrest
3
1
4
Long-tailed Tit
4
0
4
Coal Tit
1
0
1
Blue Tit
6
9
15
Great Tit
0
1
1
Chaffinch
3
0
3
Goldfinch
7
0
7
Reed Bunting
1
0
1
Total:
29
12
41

Highlights of the catch were:
  • Two jack snipe, both of which were aged as first winter birds. A range of features were used in determining age, including the presence of streaks on the undertail covers, the shape of the outer tail feather, and the pattern of the lesser coverts. We have now captured 10 jack snipe on the Marsh in 2016.
  • A common snipe. It was nice to capture a common snipe alongside the jack snipe, as this allowed people to compare features.
  • Four new long-tailed tits. Having only captured two birds prior to 8 October, it was looking like a poor year for the species. Forty birds in the last six weeks has turned it into the best year to date for long-tailed tit.
  • A reed warbler. This is an extremely late record: the latest Welsh record listed in Birds in Wales 1992-2000 (Green, 2002) was on 12 November 1994 (Pembrokeshire). It was assumed that the reed warbler would be in poor health, but it was carrying a reasonable level of fat (score of 5 using the BWG system - i.e. the tracheal pit was full and slightly convex in profile). A fairly typical gingery-looking first winter bird, albeit with a little more feather wear than we are used to seeing on a youngster (we don't see many after September). It was checked (for completeness) against criteria for Blyth's reed warbler and marsh warbler, but did not show the emargination typical of the former and was also relatively short winged - ruling out the latter without additional effort).
Two jack snipe and a common snipe (right)
Thanks to Paul Aubrey, Wayne Morris, Lynn Watts and Natasha Dodds for company and assistance this morning.

Owain Gabb
19/11/2016

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