Sunday, 1 May 2016

Oxwich Marsh 30 April 2016: return of the reed warblers

A day of settled weather with overcast skies and a light northwesterly wind that gradually strengthened and became gusty. We put out a total of 580 feet of net in reed bed and scrub habitats, in the knowledge that the majority of the nets would capture few birds. 

The catch was as follows:

Species
New
Recaptured
Total
Wren
0
1
1
Robin
1
2
3
Blackbird
1
2
3
Sedge Warbler
2
3
5
Reed Warbler
0
2
2
Whitethroat
1
0
1
Blue Tit
0
1
1
Great Tit
1
5
6
Chaffinch
2
3
5
Greenfinch
0
2
2
Goldfinch
12
5
17
Siskin
7
4
11
Reed Bunting
0
1
1
Total:
27
31
58

Features of the catch were the first reed warblers of the year, a total of five sedge warblers, our first whitethroat of 2016 and continued good numbers of goldfinch and siskin. 

Returning reed warbler
One of the reed warblers was a returning Control. This bird was originally ringed at Teifi Marshes in 2011, and has been recaptured at Oxwich in July 2014, June 2015 and now April 2016. We know it is a female as in 2014 and 2015 a brood patch was recorded, but this will not show for a while yet this year.  The other reed warbler and the recaptured sedge warblers were returning birds. 



Whitethroat
The whitethroat was aged as a second calendar year bird. It showed considerable wear to the primaries (which were brown as opposed to grey in tone) and primary coverts. This was only our third April whitethroat since we started at the site in 2013; most are captured as birds disperse / feed up ahead of migration.





So far this year we have captured 200 unique goldfinches and 123 unique siskins, of which 146 and 108 respectively have been newly ringed. The session saw us capture our first Control siskin of the year. It will be interesting to see where it has come from. It comes hot on the heels of a goldfinch that moved to County Clare, Ireland and one of our siskins that moved to Cumbria (a less unexpected recovery).

Despite numbers being slightly up on this stage in 2014 and 2015, we still have no Cetti's warbler or bullfinch in the totals. The former is fairly inexplicable, as the species is common around the marsh. Bullfinches do not appear to be breeding in the immediate area, however, as we have had no records of them. We would nevertheless expect to catch post fledging groups of birds, as we have done in previous years.

Thanks to those who were able to make it out for what was a steady session - Heather Coats, Dan Rouse and Val Wilson.

Owain Gabb
01/05/2016

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