Thursday, 20 October 2016

Oxwich Marsh 20 October 2016: little bunting

A slightly stronger than ideal north-westerly breeze greeted us this morning. This is the worst wind direction for the marsh - we have no way of setting nets to escape it. Thankfully, however, it was calmest at dawn, and we got most of our work done early.

This was our first attempt at catching redwings of 2016. Nets were set before dawn along the bund through the middle of the marsh, with further nets set in scrub and in a rushy area around the edge of the South Pond.

Jack snipe on release (Keith Vaughton)
On the first round we extracted 15 redwing, a few robins and wrens and a couple of goldcrests. A nice mix, but nothing unexpected. The nets near the South Pond did better: a jack snipe, a common snipe and another wren.

The second net round saw us start to catch some of the flocks of smaller birds that had been noted moving in waves through the area the night before. Approximately 20 goldcrests (including a control), a few blue tits, long-tailed tits and robins, but a distinct lack of the chiffchaffs and yellow-browed warblers of the previous week or so.

What appeared to be a reed bunting at first glance was left until the smaller, more delicate crests had been extracted. A closer inspection revealed it wasn't a reed bunting, however, but a little bunting!

Little bunting (Keith Vaughton)

Back at the ringing table the bird was studied more closely.

It had a wing length of 72 mm, was carrying no fat and had a distinctively juvenile-looking tail (very pointed and abraded with the hint of a growth bar).

It was visibly slighter than a reed bunting, showed a clear white eye ring, brown cheeks with a dark border. The malar stripe did not extend close to the bill, the wing bars were fairly subtle, and the flank streaking (shown best in the lowest photo) was fairly narrow.




It was released near the South Pond hide, to allow any visiting birders the chance to see it. On release it called - a robin-like tick - and flew some distance before appearing to drop into scrub.
Reed bunting (L) and little bunting (R) (Keith Vaughton)

Head of little bunting showing crown stripe

Tail, showing feather shape and wear (not very well), as well as the white on the 6th and lack of while on the 5th (white on the 5th is a feature of rustic bunting)

Little bunting

Little bunting foot / leg colouration and flank streaking

The day total was as follows:

Species
Ringed
Recaptured
Total
Jack Snipe
1
0
1
Snipe
1
0
1
Wren
4
1
5
Dunnock
1
0
1
Robin
2
2
4
Redwing
15
0
15
Cetti's Warbler
1
0
1
Goldcrest
28
1
29
Long-tailed Tit
2
0
2
Blue Tit
4
1
5
Great Tit
1
0
1
Little Bunting
1
0
1
Reed Bunting
3
0
3
Total:
64
5
69

A good morning. On most days a jack snipe would be a clear highlight!

Thanks to Heather Coats, Keith Vaughton, Phil Mead and Sammy-Jo Pengelly for coming along and clearing up after I had to go to work

Owain Gabb
20 October 2016

2 comments:

  1. Congratulations Owain, a great reward for a lot of hard work and dedication!

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  2. Thanks Emma. Always nice to catch a scarcity. Hopefully more redwings, crests and chiffchaffs this weekend. Its an exciting time of year!

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