Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Oxwich Marsh Ringing Report 2017

2017 was the fifth year of Gower Ringing Group activity at Oxwich Marsh. The site also hosted the Welsh Ringing Course (in September) for the third consecutive year.

Species Totals
A total of 3,492 birds of 46 species were ringed during the year. Recaptures from previous years and controlled birds (those initially ringed at other sites) took the total of unique birds processed at the site to 3,857. Swallow (709), blue tit (427) and goldfinch (324) were the most frequently captured species.

Annual totals are provided in the table below.

Table 1. Totals processed at Oxwich 2013-2017 inclusive
No
Species
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
1
Mute swan




7
2
Sparrowhawk

3

2

3
Water rail



3

4
Jack snipe

1
2
14
10
5
Snipe

11
4
19
55
6
Woodpigeon

1



7
Kingfisher
1
7
3
1
2
8
Green woodpecker


2


9
Great spotted woodpecker
3
14
23
21
33
10
Skylark

2
2


11
Sand martin

14
8
33
19
12
Swallow
23
382
399
595
709
13
House martin

1

5
104
14
Tree pipit

13
3
37
19
15
Meadow pipit
8
48
65
14
45
16
Yellow wagtail




3
17
Grey wagtail



1
7
18
Pied/White wagtail


7
44
101
19
Wren
41
74
96
76
70
20
Dunnock
17
61
50
39
74
21
Robin
24
101
68
49
77
22
Redstart


1
1

23
Whinchat


2


24
Stonechat

6
10
21
14
25
Wheatear



1

26
Blackbird
14
32
39
29
57
27
Song thrush
5
7
18
10
17
28
Redwing

8
99
42
92
29
Mistle thrush


1


30
Cetti's warbler
10
28
24
26
40
31
Grasshopper warbler
2
6
11
19
13
32
Sedge warbler
62
120
145
177
142
33
Reed warbler
113
153
159
227
192
34
Lesser whitethroat

2
2
1

35
Whitethroat
17
42
34
36
23
36
Garden warbler

21
5
16
8
37
Blackcap
51
300
190
71
98
38
Yellow-browed warbler

1

16

39
Wood warbler

1



40
Chiffchaff
43
140
100
145
101
41
Willow warbler
22
94
85
146
72
42
Goldcrest
20
73
167
106
83
43
Firecrest
1
3
3
4
2
44
Long-tailed tit
17
30
37
42
21
45
Marsh tit

2



46
Willow tit



1

47
Coal tit

3
7
8
7
48
Blue tit
224
393
469
235
427
49
Great tit
36
127
153
135
149
50
Nuthatch


2
1

51
Treecreeper
2
1
7
7
3
52
Magpie
1
1
1
1

53
Starling

2


2
54
Chaffinch
30
196
265
208
157
55
Brambling

1

1
8
56
Greenfinch
3
355
468
244
139
57
Goldfinch
3
445
464
479
324
58
Siskin

62
58
150
218
59
Lesser redpoll


7
2
2
60
Bullfinch
17
19
13
2
14
61
Yellowhammer




1
62
Little bunting



1

63
Reed bunting
40
157
147
117
96
Total
850
3564
3925
3681
3857

Statistical comparison between years is not valid, as the total amount of net, the net rides used, and the number of visits each month varied depending on the personnel available and the weather conditions. Notwithstanding this, however, we aim to ring in the marsh twice a week during passage periods and at least once a week at other times.  Where there are very obvious differences between years, these do tend to be apparent. These included:
  • A far better capture of common snipe than in previous years. This reflected ideal water levels near the South Pond during much of the autumn and winter period, and our ability to manipulate roosting locations through cutting of rides and pockets in the reed in this area. It was interesting that the increase in common snipe captured was not reflected in jack snipe.
  • Increased numbers of locally-resident species including great spotted woodpecker (thirty-three individuals coming to a feeder appears a very high number) dunnock, robin, blackbird and blue tit. This suggests it was a good breeding season for many of these.
  • Increased captures of wagtails during autumn passage. Previously we had set tape lures for pied/white wagtails at the end of a net ride erected to capture swallows coming in to roost. In 2017 we set nets (and tapes) for wagtails a few hundred metres from the swallow nets, with the possible result that the calls were more audible. We caught three yellow wagtails among the pied/white wagtails. We also (briefly) used a pipit triangle to target grey wagtails (with some success).
  • Low catches of leaf warblers. This was particularly notable in common migrant breeders, with willow warbler and chiffchaff numbers well down on 2016 (- 51 % and – 30 % respectively). It was also a poor autumn for goldcrest (- 22 % compared with 2016 and – 50 % compared with 2015), we caught only two firecrest, and following the record total of sixteen yellow-browed warbler in 2016 we failed to capture the species in 2017.
  • A further decline in greenfinch numbers. While it is not scientifically robust (for reasons noted above) to draw too many conclusions about population trends, we have put nets around the feeders on the marsh for the last few years. During this time the number of birds caught has decline by 70 % from 468 in 2015 to 134 this year. Trichomonosis is rife in the local population.
  • A lack of goldfinches in the autumn and second winter period of the year. Following a good spring peak, with 119 birds captured in March, there was no July influx of juveniles (possibly indicating poor local productivity) or substantial capture during the autumn passage period. Conversely siskin numbers increased in 2017, albeit this was largely due to an exceptional day capture of 71 birds in late December.
Mute swan, yellow wagtail and yellowhammer were new (ringed) birds for the site, taking the overall total to sixty-three species. There were no rarities or scarcities processed in 2017, with the most notable result being the capture of eight bramblings between 19 November and 23 December, along with a couple of late firecrests.

Absentees from the annual total were lesser whitethroat, redstart, nuthatch, sparrowhawk and magpie. All have been captured in small numbers in the past few years. Despite the abundance of jays around the marsh, we have yet to catch one; this is surely the next bird to be ringed at Oxwich.

Controls
Some of the more notable controls were as follows:
  • A reed warbler ringed as a juvenile at Meandro de Ranillas, Zaragoza, Spain on 19 August 2016 was recaptured at Oxwich on 29 July 2017. Oxwich is approximately 1,130 km north north-west of its Spanish ringing site, and the bird may have returned through Zaragoza in the late summer of 2017 during its south bound migration.
  • A blackcap ringed as a recently fledged juvenile on 31 July 2015 was controlled at Les Madrigueres, El Vendrell, Tarragona, Spain on 10 October 2017. The control site is 1,236 km to the south south-east of Oxwich, and it appears likely that the bird winters in the area.
  • A late report was received of a chiffchaff ringed as a recently-fledged juvenile at Oxwich in early August 2015 and recaptured in early February 2016 at Utrera, Sevilla, Spain (over 1,600 km to the south and in its likely wintering area).
In addition a variety of species ringed during our first year on site (2013) were recaptured during 2017. These included blackbird, reed warbler, blue tit and great tit.

Acknowledgements
We are extremely grateful to the Gower Society for providing a third year of grant funding in 2017. Without this grant it would not have been possible to continue ringing on the marsh with the same intensity as in previous years, and the data gathered would consequently be far less useful. The grant substantially contributed towards covering our costs.

Nick Edwards (of Natural Resources Wales), who manages the marsh, has been consistently supportive of our efforts since we began ringing in 2013, and we are also very grateful for his continued backing.

Thanks are also due to members of the Gower Ringing Group who have attended regularly over the course of the year and provided the impetus and commitment to maintain our efforts.  In particular: Heather Coats, Cedwyn Davies, Keith Vaughton, Wayne Morris, Emma Cole, Val Wilson, Paul Aubrey, Lynn Watts, Stephen Vickers, Sophie de Grissac, Sarah Davies, Olivia Pargeter, Martin Thomas, Kirsty Franklin, Joanne Conway, Edward O’Connor, Bethan Dalton and Alex McCubbin.

Finally thanks to Kelvin Jones for organising the 2016 Welsh Ringing Course, to Martin Hughes, Gwynedd Roberts, Tony Cross and Justin Walker for their support as visiting trainers, and to Gower Ringing Group members for their assistance in making everything tick.

Some further photographs are below, and the full PDF report can be found by following this LINK.

Owain Gabb
03/01/2018

Brambling (Stephen Vickers)

Brambling (Kirsty Franklin)

Grasshopper warbler

Most of Gower RG. L-R: Jo Conway, Val Wilson, Owain Gabb, Emma Cole, Sophie de Grissac, Keith Vaughton, Wayne Morris, Edward O'Connor, Martin Thomas, Stephen Vickers, Heather Coats, Kirsty Franklin, Sarah Davies, Alex McCubbin.

L-R: Swallow, house martin, sand martin

Kingfisher (Keith Vaughton)

Val Wilson, along with Welsh Ringing Course participants and the local mute swans

Jack snipe (L) and common snipe

Starling (Stephen Vickers)

Yellow wagtail
Yellowhammer

2 comments:

  1. In north-east Wales, some of our catches were the exact opposite of yours in 2017, notably of leaf warblers where Chiffchaffs were much more numerous than in 2016. Siskins were largely absent (at least from nets) in 2017 after a bumper year in 2016.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Giles. We are very coastal at Oxwich, and overall WILWA and CHIFF numbers can vary substantially based on a few big days in the autumn. Hopefully we will see both rise again this year. Interesting about SISKI. We were on for a very similar year to 2016 until we had a catch of 71 in late December.

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