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!!)


Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Spring variety adds to the evening....

Swallow to Sand Martin...

Hirundines have arrived and our first evening session with a 60 foot net and a couple of two shelf nets at Mallard pond did not disappoint! This adult male Swallow was the first of the Spring to be ringed during a misty evening. Closely followed by our first Sand Martin of 2015.

Cetti's Warbler and Reed Bunting..
added a local flavour to the nets. A new Cetti's is always a bonus as most of the local population are ringed, and a new male Reed Bunting helps our RAS (Retrapping adults for survival) project nicely too.

Pied and White Wagtails...
Very few White Wagtails have been seen so far, so lovely to start "our wagtail Spring" with one of each this evening..There is something special about our passage White Wagtails - a recovery from Iceland fuels this research...

On Sunday, a training session focusing on net erection, also produced four new Chiffchaff, and plenty of retraps to add to the mix.



Thursday, 26 March 2015

Winter lamping ends with a Fieldfare

A typical scene on most dark and windy nights since last November...
but with the birds that spend winter roosting on our sheep pasture now heading back to their breeding grounds it is getting harder to find birds when out lamping. On our last visit this week we didn't see any Woodcock but did catch a Fieldfare.
Most of the fields we walk have now been heavily spread with slurry and with the moon waxing it is just about time to stop lamping. Although never say never - our latest Woodcock were caught on 5th April so if the weather is right we might be out again.

It has certainly not been an easy year for catching Woodcock. Mid Wales ringers have had good numbers of birds roosting but we have had no big nights of catching, mostly one or two a night despite walking an average 4 km.  Redwing and Skylark have been well down too but more Fieldfare.

Totals of birds caught by lamping this winter...

Woodcock - 44 ringed and 3 retraps


Once again, the most productive site for finding Woodcock has been the improved grassland sheep pasture on Frenni Fawr, our highest highest farm at 274m.
Snipe -6
Golden Plover-11
Fieldfare -20
Meadow Pipits 14 and 1 retrap
 Mistle Thrush 1 - a first for us to catch by lamping
 Redwing 2
Skylark 5
As well as the birds caught we have also been recording all waders seen and field use to add to the value of our long term monitoring of these North Pembrokeshire farms.

Our attention will now be changing to evening roost ringing instead as soon as the White Wagtails start moving north through the Teifi Marsh.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

First Wheatear..

With news of Wheatear turning up on the Pembrokeshire Islands this week, a look at Mwnt, our coastal ringing site, was a must.
Two were seen on Monday
so that inspired us to dust off the spring traps and head there this morning. It was a very foggy start but the sun broke through to be a clear blue sky day.
The first bird was a surprise - a Meadow Pipit we had ringed there in April 2011, one of three ringed that day.
6 male Wheatear were around the headland and we caught two of them.
Other birds ringed were 2 Stonechat, 2 Meadow Pipit and a Rock Pipit.
Thanks to the National Trust for permission to continue our work at this beautiful location.

Night time lamping is continuing. Woodcock are ready to migrate and always tricky to catch in March but a Skylark and some Meadow Pipits have been ringed this week. A few Fieldfare are still roosting on the fields but Golden Plover haven't been seen for a week.

11pm update!!
There are still some Golden Plover about. We ringed one of two seen tonight on Frenni Fawr
Only one Woodcock seen on a quick look at two of our sites.