Monday, 20 February 2017

Oxwich Marsh mid February 2017: more ringers than birds ......... !

It has been a quiet February.

The weather has been predominantly mild and fairly damp, and there have been no significant storms or cold spells since the turn of the year. The low productivity in blue tits in 2016 certainly seems to have left a legacy in terms of numbers at the feeders, and despite parties of finches moving through, we have failed to catch many greenfinch or any siskin to date.

The catch for the last couple of sessions is detailed in the table below:

Species
Ringed
Recaptured
Total
Jack Snipe
1
0
1
Snipe
6
0
6
Great Spotted Woodpecker
0
1
1
Wren
1
0
1
Dunnock
0
1
1
Robin
0
3
3
Goldcrest
1
0
1
Long-tailed Tit
0
2
2
Blue Tit
2
4
6
Great Tit
1
2
3
Chaffinch
1
1
2
Greenfinch
0
1
1
Goldfinch
8
2
10
Total:
21
17
38

The lack of sustained heavy rainfall this winter has resulted in the marsh being relatively dry. This has allowed us to target snipe in some marginal areas that were far too wet to access in winter 2014/15, and only marginally better in 2015/16. 2017 is already our best calendar year for the species (20 to date), and we are finding the new Baker (2016) guide a very useful tool for getting to grips with ageing them.

The Baker guide gives clearer guidance on the ageing criteria for first winter and adult snipe, and we are now seeing features including retained median coverts and rounded primary covert tips in some birds (two of the more obvious first winter and adult features respectively) more readily and drawing conclusions with greater confidence. It has only taken us 55 snipe to get this far (the first was captured in November 2014)! Other highlights of the combined catch were a jack snipe (the fourth of the year), and long-tailed tits ringed in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

There were at least 60 snipe on the marsh during the 18 February session, and we would expect to be catching both common and jack snipe well into March based on previous years.

We managed to replace a stile between net rounds on Saturday, such was the lack of birds, and we are now way down in terms of numbers on both 2016 and 2015. There haven't quite been more ringers than birds, but it has been close at times.

Thanks to all who have made it out for the last two sessions: Heather Coats, Keith Vaughton, Wayne Morris, Emma Cole, Darren Hicks, Val Wilson, Paul Aubrey, Ben Rees, Olivia Pargeter, Leighton Newman, Natasha Dodds and Sarah Davies.

Owain Gabb
20/02/2017


L-R Leighton Newman, Ben Rees, Keith Vaughton, Heather Coats, Darren Hicks and Wayne Morris

L-R Wayne Morris, Sarah Davies and Leighton Newman

Common snipe

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