Monday, 27 June 2016

Are you interested in Bird Ringing?

We are now in a position that we can take on new trainee ringers.

We are active at a range of sites in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and Carmarthenshire, including:  
Kingfisher
Whinchat
  • Cwm Clydach RSPB Reserve where we have a long running project re-trapping adult pied flycatchers that aims to collect high quality data on between year survival rates;
  •  Penclacwydd (WWT Llanelli) where we run a Constant Effort Site (collecting a standardised data set to analyse change in bird populations);
  • Oxwich Marsh National Nature Reserve (where we catch large numbers of migrant warblers, swallows and finches and are active throughout the year); and
  • Margam Park (where our captures regularly include species that forage in open grassland habitats such as mistle thrush and green woodpecker).

Pied flycatcher nest
Wood warbler
The variety of habitats at the sites we visit, and the commitment of members of the Group to ensure that sessions are run regularly provides trainees with the opportunity to study a wide variety of birds in the hand and to steadily improve their skills.

We are a very active, friendly group with a varied demographic, and include university students / researchers, ecological consultants, site wardens and representatives of Gower Ornithological Society, as well as people with a more general interest in birds and other wildlife who work / have worked outside the conservation sector. We would be more than happy to talk to you about the principles of the ringing scheme, and the level of time and commitment required to progress towards a licence if you decide ringing is for you (after a few taster sessions). A reasonable level of physical fitness is needed, particularly for the pied flycatcher work, while an ability to identify birds is always an advantage (albeit this can be taught to a large degree). We ring on both weekdays (morning and evening) and weekends, so a full time job does not preclude your attending sessions.

If you would think you would like to get involved, just leave your contact details in a comment at the bottom of the page and we will get back to you with further information.


Gower Ringing Group
28/06/2016

Sparrowhawk

CES 6 AT WWT LLANELLI


A disappointing CES 6 despite good weather with low wind. We caught 22 birds and of these 13 were juveniles which made up for the low numbers somewhat.  We had our first Cetti's warbler of the year, an adult, however only one Chiff chaff, a juvenile. No Blackcaps again which is unusual for this site.

Species
New
Re-trap
Total
Wren
2
2
4
Dunnock
5
1
6
Robin
4
0
4
Blackbird
2
0
2
Song thrush
0
1
1
Cetti's warbler
1
0
1
Chiff chaff
1
0
1
Blue tit
1
0
1
Great tit
2
0
2
Total
18
4
22

My thanks to Phil Mead and Dan Rouse for their assistance.

If you would like to understand the training needed to become a ringer and/or are interested in joining the Group, please leave your contact details as a comment on this post and we will get back to you in due course.

Heather Coats

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Oxwich Marsh 25 June: more fledglings

A still but overcast morning with rain forecast to come in late morning, and a small team left us putting up less net than usual, restricting ourselves to 400 feet in the reed bed and 60 foot in the scrub near the feeders.  A northerly breeze stiffened through the morning, and nets were down by 11:00am.  With rain falling on the drive out of Gower, we’d made the right decision.

Species
New
Recaptured
Total
Great Spotted Woodpecker
2
1
3
Wren

2
2
Robin
2

2
Blackbird
1

1
Cetti's Warbler
1

1
Grasshopper Warbler

1
1
Sedge Warbler

1
1
Reed Warbler
2

2
Blackcap

1
1
Chiffchaff
4

4
Willow Warbler
2

2
Blue Tit
4

4
Great Tit
18
4
22
Chaffinch
13
7
20
Greenfinch
6

6
Goldfinch
13
3
16
Siskin
1
1
2
Reed Bunting
3
2
5
Total:
72
23
95

Grasshopper warbler
We opened the reed bed nets to the sound of a Grasshopper Warbler reeling close by, so it was of no surprise that the first bird extracted was a retrap, perhaps proving this species is again breeding in the Marsh.

The features of the catch were the high proportion of juveniles of most species processed during the morning.  This included the first young Cetti’s Warbler of the year.  Cetti’s is a species we hear regularly with its characteristic song burst while skulking in the scrub and reeds around the Marsh, and it’s rewarding to once more prove breeding.  Juvenile finches were ever present at each net round, with a good number of young Chaffinches of note.  Of the Great Tits trapped, only one was an adult.

Of the juveniles caught, most were coded as 3JJ indicating that they were yet to commence their post-juvenile moult.  In contrast, two adult Willow Warblers processed at the same time showed differing moult scores, looking very different in appearance in the hand.  One was yet to commence moult having severely abraded primaries.  The second bird was in main moult, replacing flight and body feathers.  Willow Warbler is the only British species that undertakes a full moult twice a year. Adults moult soon after breeding, with the new feathers grown not being of very high quality and adults and first-years undergo a complete moult in Africa. This ‘winter’ moult occurs just before the birds start spring migration north.

Willow warbler
Both our birds were dark-legged and not especially green or yellow in appearance.  Wing formulae and supercilium length aided identification, but highlights the need for caution when attempting to separate Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff in the field without any auditory or behavioural cues to help.

The retrapped Blackcap was a male and aged as code 5, i.e. a bird hatched in 2015.  It had a black cap, one retained old greater covert and worn and pointed tail feathers, yet to be replaced.

A rewarding session, with a good total considering the nets erected and duration. 

Thanks to Darren Hicks for keeping the feeders stocked during the week.

Today's team was comprised of Heather Coats, Paul Aubrey, Val Wilson and Wayne Morris.

If you would like to understand what it takes to become a ringer and/or are interested in joining the Group, please leave your contact details in the comments box at the bottom and we will get back to you in due course.

Wayne Morris
26 June 2016

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Oxwich Marsh 18 June 2016: fledgling warblers

A light to moderate northerly breeze and clear skies did not present the best conditions for ringing, and due to various pressing commitments, including getting the Constant Effort visit completed at WWT Llanelli, we had limited personnel available. As such, we put up less net than usual, limiting ourselves to 400 feet in the reed bed and a sixty foot net in the scrub near the feeders.

Species
New
Recaptured
Total
Great Spotted Woodpecker
2
2
4
Wren
1
1
2
Dunnock
3
1
4
Robin
1
0
1
Blackbird
1
1
2
Sedge Warbler
3
3
6
Reed Warbler
0
1
1
Whitethroat
1
2
3
Goldcrest
1
0
1
Blue Tit
3
2
5
Great Tit
3
4
7
Chaffinch
5
6
11
Greenfinch
10
0
10
Goldfinch
14
3
17
Siskin
1
2
3
Reed Bunting
3
1
4
Total:
52
29
81

Sedge warbler (juvenile)
The features of the catch were the first young sedge warbler of the year, a 1J (a bird not capable of having dispersed far from the nest site) with all its primary feathers in pin and a partially grown tail, along with the first young whitethroats, reed buntings and a fledgling goldcrest. We have not previously caught a young sedge warbler before the start of July, while fledgling whitethroat was first captured on 27 June in 2015 and fledgling reed buntings on 14 June in 2014 and 20 June in 2015.

Goldcrest (juvenile)
As we only sample at Oxwich on a weekly basis (due to CES and RAS commitments preventing more regular visits at this time of year), comparisons between years need to be cautious, but there is some pleasing symmetry emerging over time in terms of fledging dates.

Thanks to Val Wilson and Emma Cole for company and assistance on Saturday.

Further photos are below.

Owain Gabb
20/06/2016

Whitethroat (juvenile) 

Sedge warbler (juvenile)