Thursday, 31 August 2017

Oxwich Marsh 30 August 2017: an unexpected roost visitor

A variable forecast, depending on the websites visited, made for a slightly uneasy build up to our weekly attempt to catch roosting swallows and wagtails. In the end, all was well, and the west / north-westerly wind dropped markedly during the hour and a half before dusk, as is often the case at the site.

We capture swallows using a line of nets crossing a bund through the marsh. In 2015 and 2016 wagtails were roosting in the reed bed at the end of this bund, and we were also able to target them. The last few sessions had drawn a blank on wagtails however, and observations suggested the roost had moved nearer to the South Pond (a few hundred metres distant). We therefore trialled nets close to the pond, using audio to concentrate the birds.

The results were as follows:

Species
Ringed
Recaptured
Total
Sand Martin
2
0
2
Swallow
57
1
58
Yellow Wagtail
1
0
1
Pied/White Wagtail
20
0
20
Robin
0
1
1
Reed Warbler
2
1
3
Reed Bunting
0
1
1
Total:
82
4
86

While the swallow catch was disappointing, the wagtail catch was very good. The capture of a yellow wagtail amongst the whites / pieds was particularly notable.

This was the first yellow wagtail to be captured at the site, and is a species not regularly processed by ringers in Wales. Totals for the past five years for which data are available indicate Welsh totals of 2 (2015), 7 (2014), 5 (2013), 0 (2012) and 15 (2011) birds. This reflects the fact that the species has a restricted breeding range in Wales and only occurs in Gower as a relatively uncommon passage migrant.

The yellow wagtail was a first year bird that had finished its post juvenile moult. It had largely retained its greater coverts and all of its tertials, with a single moulted greater covert and moulted median and lesser coverts providing a useful contrast in colour tone for ageing purposes. It was considered likely to be a male, based on the extent of yellow on the underparts.

Record shots are below.

Thanks to Heather Coats, Keith Vaughton, Cedwyn Davies, Jo Conway, Chris Jones, Jez Smith, Kirsty Franklin and Stephen Vickers for company and assistance.

Owain Gabb
31/08/2017

Yellow wagtail (1st winter male)

Yellow wagtail


Sunday, 27 August 2017

Oxwich Marsh late August 2017: an excellent end to the month

A spell of settled weather allowed us to get a number of sessions in. Winds veered around, but were predominantly light, particularly over the bank holiday weekend. We captured 527 birds of 28 species.

The combined total broke down as follows:

Species
New
Recapture
Total
Great Spotted Woodpecker
2
0
2
Sand Martin
4
0
4
Swallow
107
3
110
House Martin
104
0
104
Tree Pipit
10
0
10
Wren
4
4
8
Dunnock
9
11
20
Robin
3
3
6
Stonechat
3
0
3
Blackbird
5
0
5
Cetti's Warbler
4
3
7
Grasshopper Warbler
5
1
6
Sedge Warbler
14
1
15
Reed Warbler
35
7
43
Whitethroat
5
0
5
Garden Warbler
3
0
3
Blackcap
27
1
28
Chiffchaff
18
2
20
Willow Warbler
8
0
8
Goldcrest
1
0
1
Long-tailed Tit
4
1
5
Blue Tit
18
7
25
Great Tit
7
12
19
Chaffinch
5
0
5
Greenfinch
30
1
31
Goldfinch
12
4
16
Siskin
4
12
16
Reed Bunting
2
0
2
Total:
453
73
527

The highlights were:

  • Two new great spotted woodpeckers. We have now captured 29 at the feeders during 2017.
  • Good numbers of hirundines. A modest catch of 105 swallows and 2 sand martins during an evening roost session, supplemented by a couple more of each along with a daytime catch of 104 house martins on the morning of 27 August. As expected the house martins were almost exclusively juveniles, with only one adult captured.
  • A few tree pipits during each session, resulting in 10 overall, and taking us to 13 for the year. In 2016 we captured an exceptional (for us) 37 birds. The 2016 total will be lower, as we would only expect to catch them for around another week.
  • Our first stonechats for a little while. All juveniles.
  • A steady flow of young Cetti's warblers. There are indications that it has been a more successful breeding season for the species locally than in 2016.
  • Five grasshopper warblers and three garden warblers. Both juvenile and adult birds were captured in both species. The latter is a relatively scarce migrant in Gower.
  • Good numbers of reed warblers. Predominantly juvenile birds.
We have not had an August session coincide with a substantial influx of young willow warblers, whitethroats or sedge warblers, and are currently significantly behind the numbers of these species that had been trapped at this stage in 2016.

Thanks to all of those who made it out to one or more sessions: Heather Coats, Keith Vaughton, Cedwyn Davies, Wayne Morris, Val Wilson, Paul Aubrey, Natasha Dodds, Kirsty Franklin, Stephen Vickers, Jo Conway, Bethan Dalton and Katie Dix.

Photos are below

Owain Gabb
27 August 2017

Swallow (left), house martin adult (centre) and sand martin (right)
Garden warbler
Grasshopper warbler
Grasshopper warbler

Stonechat

Partially leucistic great tit
Fox moth caterpillar

House martin



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)