Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Oxwich Marsh Ringing Report 2016

2016 was the fourth year of Gower Ringing Group activity at Oxwich Marsh. It proved to be another good one: group members put in a lot of effort, and were rewarded with some excellent results.  A summary follows, and a more detailed report can be accessed through following the link towards the bottom of the page.

In 2016 3,281 birds of 52 species were ringed at Oxwich. Recaptures from previous years and controlled birds (those initially ringed at other sites) took the total of unique birds processed at the site to 3,681. Swallow (595) and goldfinch (479) were the most frequently captured species.

Species totals are provided in the table below.

Table 1. Totals processed at Oxwich 2013-2016 inclusive
No.
2013
2014
2015
2016
1
Sparrowhawk

3

2
2
Water Rail



3
3
Jack Snipe

1
2
14
4
Snipe

11
4
19
5
Woodpigeon

1


6
Kingfisher
1
7
3
1
7
Green Woodpecker


2

8
Great Spotted Woodpecker
3
14
23
21
9
Skylark

2
2

10
Sand Martin

14
8
33
11
Swallow
23
382
399
595
12
House Martin

1

5
13
Tree Pipit

13
3
37
14
Meadow Pipit
8
48
65
14
15
Grey Wagtail



1
16
Pied/White Wagtail


7
44
17
Wren
41
74
96
76
18
Dunnock
17
61
50
39
19
Robin
24
101
68
49
20
Redstart


1
1
21
Whinchat


2

22
Stonechat

6
10
21
23
Wheatear



1
24
Blackbird
14
32
39
29
25
Song Thrush
5
7
18
10
26
Redwing

8
99
42
27
Mistle Thrush


1

28
Cetti's Warbler
10
28
24
26
29
Grasshopper Warbler
2
6
11
19
30
Sedge Warbler
62
120
145
177
31
Reed Warbler
113
153
159
227
32
Lesser Whitethroat

2
2
1
33
Whitethroat
17
42
34
36
34
Garden Warbler

21
5
16
35
Blackcap
51
300
190
71
36
Yellow-browed Warbler

1

16
37
Wood Warbler

1


38
Chiffchaff
43
140
100
145
39
Willow Warbler
22
94
85
146
40
Goldcrest
20
73
167
106
No.
Species
2013
2014
2015
2016
41
Firecrest
1
3
3
4
42
Long-tailed Tit
17
30
37
42
43
Marsh Tit

2


44
Willow Tit



1
45
Coal Tit

3
7
8
46
Blue Tit
224
393
469
235
47
Great Tit
36
127
153
135
48
Nuthatch


2
1
49
Treecreeper
2
1
7
7
50
Magpie
1
1
1
1
51
Starling

2


52
Chaffinch
30
196
265
208
53
Brambling

1

1
54
Greenfinch
3
355
468
244
55
Goldfinch
3
445
464
479
56
Siskin

62
58
150
57
Lesser Redpoll


7
2
58
Bullfinch
17
19
13
2
59
Little Bunting



1
60
Reed Bunting
40
157
147
117

Total
850
3564
3925
3681

Statistical comparison between years is not possible, as the total amount of net, the net rides used, and the number of visits each month varied depending on the personnel available and the weather conditions. 2013 was a pilot year, and only small numbers of birds were captured.

Notwithstanding this, however, we aim to ring in the marsh twice a week during passage periods and at least once a week at other times. Where there are very obvious differences between years, these tend to be apparent. Clear differences between 2016 and previous years include:
  • Higher captures of both jack snipe and common snipe, reflecting both ideal water levels for ringing in marginal vegetation close to the South Pond during the late spring and autumn periods and greater efforts to catch them.
  • Lower catches of blackcap throughout the season. During peak autumn passage in September 2016 a total of twenty-seven birds were captured (fifty-five in September 2015; one hundred and ten in 2014) which emphasises the emerging downward trend. The decrease from the annual total of three hundred blackcaps captured in 2014 to seventy-one in 2016 is marked.
  • Far better totals for some autumn passage migrants including swallow, tree pipit and pied/white wagtails, garden warbler and willow warbler than were achieved in 2015. These reflect both targeted effort (swallows, tree pipits and wagtails), and the good catches obtained from the bund nets (the warblers – all of which were proven to breed).
  • A more muted late autumn / early winter period for common migrants than in 2015. Redwing passage over the marsh was less noticeable, and there were few large catches of goldcrests. This was offset by excellent catches of yellow-browed warbler (reflecting the record national influx reported by the BTO), our best year for firecrest (albeit only four birds were ringed) and the capture of our first genuine Welsh rarity, a little bunting.
  • A generally poor or moderate year for many of our resident species. These included far lower totals of blue tit (poor productivity was reported nationally) and greenfinch (possibly due to population decline resulting from trichomoniasis) than in 2015 or 2014, and more modest falls in the number of reed bunting, dunnock and robin captured.

Willow tit
Other notable results obtained during the season were the capture of a juvenile willow tit initially heard calling and subsequently trapped in the pipit triangle, three water rails (all in areas of tall, inundated rush), and a grey wagtail, all of which were new species for the site and which take us to 60 species captured at the marsh. Willow tit is now something of a Gower rarity.

One of three water rails captured at Oxwich in 2016
There were also some notable controls and recaptures. These included:
  • The recapture of a jack snipe initially ringed on 12 March 2016 in a different part of the marsh on 29 October 2016. This demonstrated between-winter site fidelity, as the bird will have assumedly returned to its breeding grounds in Northern Scandinavia or Russia between being ringed and its recapture.
  • A sedge warbler ringed at the marsh on 14 August 2016 and controlled at Poole Harbour, Dorset on 28 August, a movement of 175 km east south-east.
  • A reed warbler originally ringed at Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion, in 2011, and captured at Oxwich in April and July 2016. The bird is a female that breeds on the marsh. It was previously captured in both 2014 and 2015.
  • A juvenile reed warbler ringed at Oxwich on 22 July 2008 and recaptured on 11 June 2016. The bird was therefore likely to have been approaching eight years of age at the time it was re-trapped.
  • A chiffchaff ringed in the Nanjizal Valley, Land's End, Cornwall on 13 October 2015 and recaptured on the marsh on 16 January 2016. An interesting north north-easterly movement (given the respective dates) of 200 km.
  • A willow warbler ringed at Lagganbeg, Kilniver, Oban, Argyll & Bute on 26 July and recaptured on the marsh on 14 August 2016; a southerly movement of 535 km.
  • A goldcrest ringed at Billinge Hill, Merseyside on 9 October 2015 and recaptured at Oxwich on 20 October 2016, a movement of 237 km in a south south-westerly direction.
  • A greenfinch ringed on the marsh in October 2015 and found dead at Fishburn, County Durham on 12 September 2016. A movement of 391 km in a north north-easterly direction.
  • A greenfinch ringed by the Gower RG in Crynant (Neath Port Talbot) in September 2007 and recaptured at the marsh in January 2016. The eight years and four months between ringing and recapture is likely to make this one of the oldest greenfinches processed in the UK in 2016.
  • A female goldfinch ringed on the marsh on 25 March 2016, and recaptured at Gleninagh Quay, Ballyvaughan, County Clare, Ireland on 5 April. Between the two dates it had made its way 386 km in a west north-westerly direction.
  • A second calendar year female siskin ringed on the marsh in February 2016 and controlled at Millhousebridge, Dumfries & Galloway, on 30 April. A northerly movement of 402 km.
  • A reed bunting ringed at Oxwich (by Barry Stewart) in August 2010 as a juvenile and recaptured in August 2016, almost exactly six years later.
  • And finally, a mute swan ring-read in the field (one of the breeding pair at Oxwich this year and not listed within our annual total) had been ringed at Torbay, Devon in January 2010. A movement of 135 km in a north north-westerly direction.
Yellow-browed warbler (Keith Vaughton)
We are extremely grateful to the Gower Society for providing a second year of grant funding in 2016.  Without this grant it would not have been possible to continue ringing on the marsh with the same intensity as in previous years, and the data gathered would consequently be far less useful.

We are also very grateful to Penrice Community Council for a donation to our Group funds in summer 2016. Along with the Gower Society grant (above) we largely covered our costs during the year as a result.

Nick Edwards (of Natural Resources Wales), who manages the marsh, has been consistently supportive of our efforts since we began ringing in 2013. His assistance in the late autumn, putting in a gate at the end of the bund (to exclude the cattle from the ringing ride) was particularly appreciated.

Thanks are also due to members of the Gower Ringing Group who have attended regularly over the course of the year and provided the impetus and commitment to maintain our efforts.  In particular: Heather Coats, Cedwyn Davies, Keith Vaughton, Wayne Morris, Emma Cole, Darren Hicks, Val Wilson, Paul Aubrey, Phil Mead, Ben Rees, Lynn Watts and Sammy-Jo Pengelly. Both Wayne and Emma received their C Permits in 2016 (Wayne’s upgrade only involved the removal of the restriction on mist netting on his permit).

Finally thanks to Kelvin Jones for organising the 2016 Welsh Ringing Course, to Martin Hughes (the independent trainer) for his expertise and taking the time to travel down to join us, and to Gower Ringing Group members for their assistance in making everything tick.

Some further photographs are below, and the full report can be found by following this LINK to a page where the PDF'd report can be downloaded):

Owain Gabb
09/01/2017

3rd calendar year sparrowhawk (Keith Vaughton)
Second calendar year sparrowhawk (Keith Vaughton)
Jack snipe (Keith Vaughton)
Jack snipe (Keith Vaughton)
Redstart (Keith Vaughton)


Grasshopper warbler (Keith Vaughton)

Firecrest (Keith Vaughton)
Little bunting (Keith Vaughton)



Goldfinch (Keith Vaughton)

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