Friday, 16 March 2018

Beating the Demons and a Gower Society Grant

A recent break in blogging has been due to a failure to get to grips with Demography Online (Demon), the new online application produced by the BTO to capture ringing (and nest recording) data. Having now had time to read the user guidance, this appears largely fairly intuitive - and three months of data have been entered over the last few days using this new system. 

So what do the data show - has it been a good start to the year?

Results for the year to date are presented in the table below, alongside those for the equivalent period of 2017 and 2016. Numbers represent totals of unique birds (newly ringed and recaptured from previous years).

Ringing results for 1 Jan - 15 March (2016-2018)
Species
2018
2017
2016
Blackbird
4
0
3
Blue tit
96
44
84
Brambling
11
0
0
Cetti's warbler
4
1
0
Chaffinch
33
20
74
Chiffchaff
0
0
2
Coal tit
4
1
4
Dunnock
17
10
8
Goldcrest
3
4
6
Goldfinch
28
132
109
Great spotted woodpecker
1
8
3
Great tit
38
16
34
Greenfinch
3
11
34
Jack snipe
4
5
5
Lesser redpoll
0
0
1
Long-tailed tit
0
2
1
Reed bunting
8
4
24
Robin
8
6
5
Siskin
82
16
64
Snipe
21
21
5
Song thrush
1
1
0
Treecreeper
0
0
1
Wren
2
6
6
Total
368
308
473

The data indicate that it has been a fairly typical start to the year in terms of numbers. The site is very coastal, and we have had numerous sessions called off or affected by weather. Much of the time we have been limited to a single net set in relatively sheltered scrub.

The most notable results have been:
  • Eleven brambling. Birds are obvious around the marsh, calling regularly. A few have stayed around for a while, and we have recaptured them during the period. Winter 2017/18 has been a good year for brambling at Oxwich, with 19 individuals ringed to date.
  • A good start to the year in terms of siskin, and a far more muted one in terms of goldfinch. It will be interesting to see whether the early numbers of siskin will translate to a record year at the site for the species (we catch modest numbers - the biggest catch to date has been of 218 birds in 2017). There is now a large goldfinch flock roosting near the feeders, and if there is an opportunity for a session in good conditions within the next week, we should see the total for the species rise considerably.
  • A solid start with regard to snipe species. High water levels and cold weather have slowed recent momentum, as we have been unable to set nets in the areas in which they day roost. Within the new birds of both species have been some recaptures, but frustratingly these have been of birds ringed within the same winter period. Establishing between-winter site fidelity remains the aim of capturing them.
  • A continued decline in greenfinch numbers. This is likely to reflect wider population trends in Gower. It is hoped that the recent cold weather may have reduced the protozoan associated with trichomonosis, the disease that appears to be driving the decline in the species locally.
The Group is also pleased to report that we have secured a grant from the Gower Society to cover the cost of rings and seed at Oxwich in 2018. This is the fourth consecutive year in which the Society have provided funding to the Ringing Group, and we are extremely grateful for it. In acknowledgement of the importance of this funding to sustaining the effort at the site, a talk was given to Gower Society members in February. This appeared well-received, with plenty of positive feedback.

Thanks to everyone who has made it out so far this year: Heather Coats, Keith Vaughton, Wayne Morris, Paul Aubrey, Kirsty Franklin, Aurelien Prudor, Sophie de Grissac, Stephen Vickers, Claudia Allen, Edward O'Connor, Richard Dann, Val Wilson, Alex McCubbin, Joanne Conway, Sarah Davies, Bethan Dalton and Jacques Turner-Moss.

Photos are below

Owain Gabb
16/03/2018

Ageing a snipe (Aurelien Prudor)

Keith in full concentration

A beaky blue tit. This bird is several years old (and has been recaptured on numerous occasions). It appears in good health. (Richard Dann)

Male brambling (Richard Dann)

The first Cetti's warbler of the year (Richard Dann)

Jack snipe on release (Richard Dann)

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