Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Oxwich Marsh mid August 2017: migrants, Hirundines and news of recoveries

A cold start to the morning of Sunday 13 August, with a light northerly airflow and open skies. We put a total of 840 feet of net though reed bed, rushy ground and broken scrub habitats, adding a further 60 foot net by one of the feeders as the catch started to decline mid-morning.

 The catch was as follows:

Species
Ringed
Recaptured
Total
Kingfisher
1
0
1
Great Spotted Woodpecker
1
0
1
Tree Pipit
2
0
2
Wren
3
5
8
Dunnock
2
1
3
Robin
3
2
5
Stonechat
1
0
1
Blackbird
2
0
2
Song Thrush
1
0
1
Cetti's Warbler
1
1
2
Grasshopper Warbler
1
0
1
Sedge Warbler
5
1
6
Reed Warbler
18
1
19
Whitethroat
3
0
3
Garden Warbler
2
0
2
Blackcap
1
1
2
Chiffchaff
2
1
3
Willow Warbler
12
0
12
Blue Tit
14
0
14
Great Tit
2
0
2
Chaffinch
1
0
1
Greenfinch
12
0
12
Goldfinch
1
0
1
Siskin
13
11
24
Reed Bunting
1
1
2
Total:
105
25
130

The highlights were:
  • A second juvenile kingfisher in a week. This bird was captured in nets set for pipits in an area of rushy ground.
  • Our 27th different great spotted woodpecker of the year. 
  • Two tree pipits. Both were drawn into a triangle of net set to capture pipits and set in open rushy ground.
  • Only the second stonechat of the year. A young bird in entirely juvenile plumage, and therefore likely to have come from a second or third brood.
  • A control sedge warbler (a bird ringed at another site) among a below average total of six individuals. Amazingly, the record was submitted to the BTO and the relevant information returned on the same day. It had been ringed at Teifi Marshes in April 2016.
  • A good day total of 19 reed warblers. These included a number of adult females with brood patches that were going over / re-feathering.
  • Two garden warblers. A very fresh juvenile and an adult. The adult showed bleaching to the tips of the primaries, outer tail feathers and alula, and a degree of wear to the wing feathers. None of these features were apparent in the juvenile bird.
  • A good day total of 24 siskins that included 13 new juveniles and a few adults in main moult. 
We have also heard back on a Spanish-ringed reed warbler we captured a couple of weeks ago. The ICONA MADRID bird was ringed at Meandro de Ranillas, Zaragoza in August 2016 (as a young bird), assumedly staging while migrating south.

An evening session, completed on 15 August and aimed at catching Hirundines resulted in the following totals:

Species
New
Recaptured
Total
Sand Martin
6
0
6
Swallow
108
3
111
Wren
0
1
1
Song Thrush
1
0
1
Cetti's Warbler
0
1
1
Reed Warbler
2
2
4
Willow Warbler
1
0
1
Reed Bunting
0
2
2
Total:
118
9
127

Of note were two recaptured swallows initially ringed at Oxwich in August 2015 and a control swallow (a young bird). We later found the control had been ringed just across the Bury Inlet at Pembrey CP by Paul Aubrey.

We normally capture pied/white wagtails at a roost site at the back of the marsh, but there was only one bird noted in flight during the session. The wagtail roost is likely to build in September based on the pattern of captures in 2016.

A brown long-eared bat and an oak eggar (moth) were also captured, extracted and released during the session.

Thanks to Heather Coats, Cedwyn Davies, Keith Vaughton, Paul Aubrey, Natasha Dodds, Sarah Davies, Jo Conway, Beth Dalton, Jez Smith, Kirsty Franklin and Stephen Vickers for company and assistance during one or both sessions.

Owain Gabb
16/08/2017

Stonechat juvenile (Natasha Dodds)
Tree pipit (Keith Vaughton)

Friday, 11 August 2017

Early August at Oxwich: some new species for the year

August has felt like another April to date. Very changeable weather, including cold, wet spells and variable winds that have swung around between south-west and due north. The Met Office has clearly struggled to know how quickly some fronts will move through, and this has led to plenty of last minute changes in forecasts.

As a result of a (predicted) moderate north-westerly wind that didn't materialise, we didn't run a session on the first weekend of the month, but got back in the saddle this week with two sessions. The first was an evening roost, and the second a morning session (albeit with a reduced amount of net to reflect the ringer-power available).

The combined total catch for the two sessions was as follows:

Species
Ringed
Recaptured
Total
Kingfisher
1
0
1
Sand Martin
3
0
3
Swallow
76
1
77
Tree Pipit
1
0
1
Pied/White Wagtail
4
0
4
Wren
3
1
4
Dunnock
2
2
4
Robin
1
1
2
Blackbird
2
0
2
Sedge Warbler
11
0
11
Reed Warbler
12
0
12
Garden Warbler
1
0
1
Blackcap
3
1
4
Chiffchaff
2
0
2
Willow Warbler
5
0
5
Blue Tit
3
0
3
Great Tit
2
5
7
Greenfinch
8
0
8
Goldfinch
1
0
1
Siskin
5
1
6
Reed Bunting
0
1
1
Total:
146
13
159

The features of the combined catch were:

  • A juvenile kingfisher. The first of the year, with a healthy weight of 38.5 g.
  • A reasonable first roost session return of 74 swallows and 3 sand martins. The only recaptured swallow had been ringed at the site 364 days previously - remarkable synchronicity! We also captured two birds leaving their roost in the morning a few days later.
  • Our first wagtails of the year. Mainly (very) juvenile pieds coming in to roost in the back of the marsh.
  • A tree pipit. A few were noted around the marsh, but most showed little interest in flying into nets (albeit one did sit on top of a net for a while). The individual captured was a short-winged (82 mm) first year bird. We have ringed a total of 54 tree pipits at the marsh over the past couple of years, and the range in wing lengths has been 82-91 mm. The weight of the bird was middle of the range at 21.6 g. It was carrying no obvious fat deposit. 
  • A garden warbler. Another first for the year, and another young bird (coded 3JP due to the extent of ongoing post juvenile moult). We normally catch our first garden warblers in the last few days of July or first few days of August, but weather put paid to the chance of early captures this year. 
A good belated start to August. The catches only get less predictable from hereon in.

Thanks to Heather Coats, Keith Vaughton, Emma Cole, Phil Mead, Natasha Dodds, Chris Jones, Kirsty Franklin, Stephen Vickers, Jo Conway, Lizzie Hobbs, Matt Joyce and Katie Dix for company and assistance during one or both of the sessions.

Photos taken by Keith are below

Owain Gabb
11/08/2017
The juvenile kingfisher. 
A young chiffchaff. The tail has broken at a fault bar (caused by environmental stress while the feathers were being grown). Adult do not have fault bars that line up, as the tail feathers are grown sequentially (as opposed to together in a juvenile).

The first garden warbler of the year