Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Sedge Warbler from Spain..

Mid May on the Teifi Marsh is always a peak period for Sedge Warblers on migration so we try to concentrate our ringing efforts in the reed beds when weather allows.

At this time of year, the reeds seem to grow by the day so there is a lot of trimming to do to prepare and maintain our net rides for the season. With over 600 feet of net in the reed beds that is a lot of work!
With a calm day forecast, at last we were able to open some nets this morning.
Today was typical for mid May with 70 Sedge Warblers caught before 9am.
One of the first birds had a Spanish ring engraved "Aranzadi San Sebastian". Never having seen one of these rings before, a quick bit of research found that Aranzadi is a ringing scheme funded by the Government of The Basque country.  After the crash of the ICONA-Madrid ringing scheme in 2012 the Aranzadi ringing scheme started to provide rings to other institutions that until then had been ringing with ICONA. We look forward to hearing when and where this bird was ringed as it migrated through Spain.
Of the 70 Sedge Warblers caught today, 63 were new birds, 7 retraps from previous years and the one control.
No May has surpassed 2009 when we caught 266 Sedge Warblers, with a totally unexpected 145 on our first ever CES session on the reserve.  We will be trying though - rain tomorrow but Friday looks hopeful for a repeat of today.
All of this is adding to our long term data set of birds migrating through the Teifi Marsh. This enables us to provide important information to the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales on the importance of the Teifi Marsh as a stopover for migrants.

Monday, 4 May 2015

31 Sedge Warblers to start the CES season..

A window in the weather meant that we could complete CES 1 on the Teifi Marsh today.
49 new birds and 34 retraps was slightly up on the last few years
2010   93  (71 Sedge Warblers!)
2011   57
2012   63
2013   64
2014   42
2015   83
but a small fall of Sedge Warblers probably accounted for this with 31 new birds. These were nearly all carrying fat and still on their way north, not breeders on the reserve.
Other new birds included the first Garden Warbler of the year as well as a returning Garden Warbler that bred on the reserve last year.
Four returning Willow Warblers were good especially one that was ringed in 2011 and caught each year since as a breeding female.
As we are doing a RAS on Reed Warblers, every adult that returns is providing good data. Oldest so far this year was one ringed in 2009 that has been caught each year since apart from last year.

With bad weather for a few days then two of us off to Skokholm island and Richard still in Canada, Teifi ringing will be on hold again for the next 10days. Richard tells us that migration through Long Point Bird Observatory has now picked up with a massive 532 birds of 39 species banded yesterday with Grasshopper Sparrow being his highlight.

Friday, 1 May 2015

White Wagtails slowing down but Reed Warblers are back..

In the last blog, two weeks ago, we were watching around 100 White Wagtails come in to roost every evening on the Teifi Marsh. A return visit to the marsh last night found, as we expected, the numbers to have reduced to just 13.
This is the view from Mallard hide watching them perch on the tree, the net and the net loops but only one in the net! The new green reed growth has shot up in two weeks.
The structure to the left is the new Sand Martin bank - unused as yet.
Sedge Warblers were singing, so no surprise that we caught two new and one returning from last year.
The first two returning Reed warblers from last year were a good start to our RAS project for the BTO and a Cetti's Warbler, ringed in 2012 and retrapped once in 2013 and 14.
Four new species for Sam, a trainee with Pembs RG but also ringing with us, on her first visit to our Mallard reed bed nets. Our other new group member, Sam's daughter, was very excited to experience the privileged close view of birds that ringers have and the chance to help release the birds after ringing.
The group hope that their activities on the Teifi Marsh are helping to inspire future generations to watch, learn about and enjoy wildlife
Thanks to Sam for the pictures.
During a short session this morning we ringed another 8 birds in the reed bed, 7 Sedge Warblers and a Reed Warbler.
Meanwhile at Long Point Bird Observatory in Canada, Richard has had a slow start with cold, windy weather, even some snow on one day. With no internet there we will look forward to pictures on his return. Big migration is forecast by Ebird after the weekend with warmer air from the south so he will be in for some busy days with Warblers flooding in.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Site faithful White Wagtail on migration

April always sees a huge number of White Wagtails roosting on the Teifi marsh on migration, as many as 250 some nights.
Once again this evening we were out by Mallard hide ringing a sample of them.
A familiar site with them sitting on the nets, guys and poles not in the net!
Only 11 caught tonight before a Sparrowhawk moved all the wagtails and Hirundines away from that area of the reed bed.
A star bird though was already ringed. A quick check on the data base on my phone (and also looked up by Richard on his phone at Long Point Bird Observatory in Canada!!) confirmed that it was a bird ringed by us one year ago almost to the day, 16th April 2014.

Another White Wagtail ringed the same week was later recovered in Iceland in June indicating where our birds are heading.
Known adult birds are always worth taking an extra good look at the moult.
Now we need a bird with a ring on from its wintering ground! It would be fascinating to know where this bird has been.

Footnote: Pub-quiz trivia - the White Wagtail is the national bird of Latvia. (ed.CJ)

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Wagtails and Warblers

The last week has shown a shift in the species we are catching as one by one the migrant species return.
A male Blackcap in my garden at the beginning in the week was only the second ever ringed there. This was the same day as big Blackcap migration was noted on Skokholm, Ramsey and Bardsey Islands amongst many other locations.
Willow Warblers, Chiffs and Goldfinches added to the variety that day.

In the evenings we have been out on the The Teifi marsh at dusk to catch Wagtails.
The hirundine roosts have been spectacular with hundreds of birds low over the reeds.
Yesterday evening we ringed 4 species - 13 Wagtails ( 11 White, 2 Pied), 8 Swallows, 7 Sand Martins and the first 2 Sedge Warblers of the year...
A cold and foggy start on the marsh today saw a morning of quality not quantity including Chiffchaff, a Reed Bunting which was colour ringed for our BTO RAS and a retrap Cetti's Warbler ringed back in 2012.
The first Grasshopper Warbler of the year was special as we didn't ring any at all last year. Usually only two or three a year apart from an exceptional year in 2011 when we ringed 16!
This back view shows the well marked plumage of the Grasshopper Warbler
 We are still waiting for the first Reed Warbler to return. Maybe tomorrow....

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Migrants at home...Long Point BO Canada next...

Swallows over the fields, Blackcaps singing....What will the Teifi Marshes deliver this evening ?
An Iceland Gull found by Arfon, to start the Spring evening off !
250 alba Wagtails around the Mallard Pond to roost..

.....Off to Long Point Bird Obs. later tonight with Mick Townsend from Stanford Ringing Group for the migration monitoring season. During our 6 week stay what goodies will arrive...

An early visitor in 2012 -- this WOW !! A Fork-tailed Flycatcher on our first day at the Tip. !!

Another early spring gem this Evening Grosbeak, making the later much more common Rose-breasted Grosbeaks look small and timid !!
Yellow-breasted Chats are pouring through Mexico, a scare migrant this far north - usually later in the season.
 A strikingly marked overshoot to Long Point.
 Yellow-throated Warbler and an almost annual for us here...and one was a lovely find for Wendy and I on our first banding visit to Costa Rica in 2012.

Brown and stripes.............!!
Almost feeling like the Teifi Marshes and home ! Probably as beautiful as an Aquatic, and probably as rare at Long Point. This a Worm-eating Warbler, and fantastic to have caught these in Costa Rica too..

Back to the Teifi.... 

With two others of the group off to Crete this weekend the blog might not be updated as often as usual in the next 2 weeks but back to normal soon. Exciting weeks ahead with the start of CES again, return of our reed bed regulars, Wagtail roosts and hopefully some more Wheatears at Mwnt.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

W is for Wednesday, Wheats, Wilwas and Whiwas

We started Wednesday with an early morning session at Mwnt with our spring traps.
Before we had finished setting up our 2 shelf net in the valley, the first Northern Wheatears were already in the traps.
Four Wheatears were caught including a nice big, bright Greenland Wheatear with a 107mm wing.
The real surprise of this morning's migrant fall were 6 Willow Warblers and 2 Chiffchaffs in a 2 shelf net together. Nice to hear the first Grasshopper Warbler of the spring reeling.

Continuing with the Willow Warbler theme, the bird in the photo was caught during some afternoon garden ringing. The first Willow Warbler ever ringed in the garden.
We finished the day with a couple of nets at our Mallard site on the Teifi Marsh. The surprise of the evening wasn't a bird in a net but a Tufted Duck on Mallard pond!

White Wagtails are on the move in small numbers. 2 caught this evening with 4 Pied Wagtails, 2 new Reed Buntings for our RAS project and always nice to retrap a Cetti's Warbler.

Today was the first visit to our Mwnt migration monitoring site by Ryan, one of our trainees. A chance for him to use spring traps and our mobile 2 shelf nets.
We will see what Mwnt delivers in the morning.

(Text by Wendy and title by Richard!!)