Sunday, 26 March 2017

Spring Finches, a bat, and a Gower Society Grant

Weather in mid to late March has remained unsettled. The conditions yesterday were fairly good, however, with a light northerly wind and open skies.

We have managed two short additional sessions since our last Oxwich blog post, and the consolidated results are presented in the table below.

Species
Ringed
Recaptured
Total
Jack Snipe
1
0
1
Great Spotted Woodpecker
0
1
1
Wren
0
3
3
Dunnock
0
7
7
Blackbird
0
1
1
Cetti's Warbler
0
1
1
Chiffchaff
1
0
1
Blue Tit
1
5
6
Great Tit
1
5
6
Chaffinch
2
2
4
Greenfinch
3
0
3
Goldfinch
43
25
68
Siskin
16
8
24
Reed Bunting
2
5
7
Total
70
63
133

The highlights over the sessions have been:
  • A 6th jack snipe for 2017 (captured on 26 March). This is the latest date in the spring / 1st winter period on which we have caught the species.
  • Our first chiffchaff of 2017. In previous years we have caught overwintering birds in January.
  • Good numbers of goldfinch, taking us over 150 unique birds this year
  • Siskins starting to be captured on a more regular basis. We have captured varying numbers of siskins over the past few years (150 in 2016, 58 in 2016 and 62 in 2014), and they have started to come through later than last year. Of 31 birds captured to date two have been controls.
  • Returning reed buntings. We have captured five birds from previous years over the past few sessions.
Perhaps less welcome was a pipistrelle species captured on 22 March. Bats pose different extraction challenges to birds.

The bat showed gingery fur, and a snub nosed face with an internarial ridge (ridge on the nose), suggesting it was a soprano pipistrelle. It was captured in the middle of the day in a ride close to the main water channel through the marsh. It is likely that it was an animal recently emerged from hibernation, and hungry as a result. Following release the bat flew off strongly.

Gower Ringing Group is very grateful to the Gower Society for the provision of grant funding for the third successive year. The grant covers the cost of rings and seed for the feeding station, and is vital for maintaining effort and planning for the coming year.

Many thanks to those who have attended sessions over the period: Heather Coats, Keith Vaughton, Cedwyn Davies, Val Wilson, Ben Rees, Lynn Watts, Olivia Pargeter, Rhodri Jones and Natasha Dodds. 

Thanks also to Dr Peter Shepherd and Hannah Bilston for comments on the identification of the bat.

Pictures are below.

Owain Gabb
26/03/2017

Female reed bunting

L-R Olivia Pargeter, Heather Coats, Val Wilson, Cedwyn Davies (seated) and Keith Vaughton

Goldfinch

Soprano pipistrelle

Soprano pipistrelle

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Another Garden Session: Crynant, 13th March

In this session we caught a total of 52 birds. Our Siskin total this time was 35 including 2 controls, that is birds which were ringed somewhere else. We shall wait to see how far they have travelled.
  
We also had 4 lesser redpoll, which is the first time they have been ringed in March in this garden although they have been ringed in April previously. There were three females and a male so it was good to see the difference as the male was coming into full breeding plumage.

Other than 3 Bullfinches, the rest was made up of the usual tits, Dunnock and Robin.

Thanks to Valerie for her assistance.

Heather Coats


Saturday, 11 March 2017

Oxwich Marsh 11 March 2017: an influx of finches and a new duck trap

A pleasant morning; a light to moderate south-easterly wind and overcast.

We tried targeting snipe in two areas, put a net by the feeder, and a line through the reed bed. The catch was as follows:

Species
New
Recaptured
Total
Jack Snipe
1
0
1
Snipe
1
0
1
Great Spotted Woodpecker
0
1
1
Wren
0
1
1
Blue Tit
4
4
8
Great Tit
0
3
3
Chaffinch
3
2
5
Greenfinch
6
2
8
Goldfinch
43
8
51
Siskin
10
1
11
Reed Bunting
0
1
1
Total:
68
23
91

Snipe numbers have clearly decreased over the past few weeks, and we only managed one common and one jack snipe this morning. One bird was caught in each of the respective trapping areas, which were L-shaped and U-shaped configurations respectively.

The nets across the marsh returned no birds at all, despite being up for three hours and a notable recent increase in reed bunting numbers in the reedbed. The feeder nets accounted for all but four of the birds!

The main feature of the catch was the total of 51 goldfinches. A flock of around 60 birds has been roosting in the bushes close to the feeding station recently, and other birds are obviously commuting in. The siskins have been present for a few weeks, but this was the first time we had caught them this year. No between-year retraps yet, but we did control a female ringed elsewhere.

The pace was fairly gentle, allowing some late winter ride maintenance and for Wayne to complete his duck trap. A very professional-looking result, and hopefully something that will provide an opportunity for increasing the range of species our trainees get to handle. No rash statements about what we will catch at this stage; we will play it by ear.

A few chiffchaff, including a singing bird were around the South Pond, we saw our first sand martin of the year, the little egret roost numbered seven birds, and a pair of buzzards were tussling with a female goshawk over the marsh just before we left - so some good birdwatching to go with the ringing.

Thanks to Heather Coats, Keith Vaughton, Wayne Morris, Paul Aubrey, Val Wilson, Sarah Davies and Francis Morgan for company and assistance this morning.

Owain Gabb
11/03/2017

Jack (left) and common snipe

Jack (left) and common snipe

Jack (upper) and common snipe

Siskin (male)

Wayne with the duck trap (90 % complete here)