Monday, 29 May 2017

Oxwich Marsh 28 May 2017: breeding groppers

The morning of 28 May was ideal for ringing; warm and virtually windless with overcast skies. We set a total of 720 feet of net in a mixture of reed bed and fringing scrub.

The day total was 65 birds.

Combined captures since 7 May, when the last blog post went up, are as follows:

Species
New
Recaptured
Total
Great Spotted Woodpecker
3
22
25
Wren
0
3
3
Dunnock
2
10
14
Robin
18
7
25
Blackbird
3
2
5
Song Thrush
0
1
1
Cetti's Warbler
1
2
3
Grasshopper Warbler
2
0
2
Sedge Warbler
3
8
11
Reed Warbler
2
4
6
Blackcap
1
0
1
Chiffchaff
1
3
4
Long-tailed Tit
3
2
5
Blue Tit
4
4
8
Great Tit
1
11
12
Chaffinch
11
11
22
Greenfinch
8
3
11
Goldfinch
11
5
16
Siskin
21
20
41
Bullfinch
1
0
1
Reed Bunting
0
4
4
Total:
96
122
220

The highlights have been:
  • The regular capture of great spotted woodpeckers. We have a minimum of 15 different birds visiting the feeders at present based on regular recapture data.
  • Better numbers of juvenile robins than were apparent at this time in 2016. 
  • Two grasshopper warblers, both on 28 May. The first, a female with an engorged brood patch was a fairly pale-looking brown bird, the second a buff-yellow type bird that did not show a brood patch or a convincing cloacal protrusion, and was not sexed. Reeling has been heard intermittently over the past month, but it was unclear whether a territory was present or whether passage birds could account for this. The female proves breeding for the third successive year.
  • A gradual increase in the number of reed and sedge warbler captured. Most of the ten and seven unique birds respectively have been returning individuals ringed in previous years.
  • Our first young blue tit, captured on 28 May. Following two years of poor productivity, numbers of blue tits are well down on previous years at present.
  • A continued steady trickle of siskins (many of which have been juveniles) and other finches. Fledged greenfinch and chaffinch were noted by mid month, and the last two visits have seen several fledged goldfinches captured.
Unfortunately a persistently singing lesser whitethroat avoided the nets all morning on 28 May.

May has been a better month in 2017 than in the past few years, with 339 birds (as opposed to 187 in 2016 and 216 in 2015) captured. It appears that early-breeding double or treble brooded resident species have had a relatively successful first attempt. It is hoped that single-brooded tit species have done better this year, and it will be interesting to see how numbers shape up over the next couple of months.

Thanks to Val Wilson for company and assistance yesterday, and to Heather Coats, Keith Vaughton, Cedwyn Davies, Emma Cole, Sarah Davies and Ed Stubbings for variously running and contributing to sessions over the past few weeks.

Photos are below.

Owain Gabb
29/05/2017.

Grasshopper warbler 1. A brown female with an engorged brood patch

Grasshopper warbler 2. A yellowish bird of unclear sex.

An adult female blackbird showing an element of leucism.

A second calendar year bullfinch with several retained greater coverts

Fledged siskins show considerable variation in colour. This bird was captured alongside the bird below.

Fledged siskin


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