Sunday, 28 June 2015

CES 6, new birds, new people...

82 birds for CES 6, 61 new and very surprisingly only 21 retraps.
Plenty of juveniles including our first capture of 2 Redstarts in a CES session.
Other first juveniles for the year included 3 Garden Warblers, 3 Reed Warblers, Treecreeper and 2 Goldcrest.
The group is growing and nice to have involved today Nia, the Teifi Marsh reserve People and Wildlife Officer, Dai Stacey and Andrew Hughes.
All three regularly visit and work on the Welsh Islands, from north to south, Bardsey, Ramsey, Skomer and Skokholm. See our post below for our recent visit to Skokholm. Useful to be able to share our island experiences of volunteering and management.
Not only the trainees do the work !

Thursday, 25 June 2015

A week on Skokholm..

Fitted in between CES 5 and 6, two of us spent a week on Skokholm ringing and counting birds.
Although very quiet for migrants in June, we were able to help with the long term seabird projects.
Just a brief summary of the work here but for a more in depth look at  the daily work on the island follow the excellent Skokholm blog which is updated daily.

Juvenile Wheatear were appearing in increasing numbers during the week and we ringed a few from the 13 pairs. This one was along the track to the light house.

Most of the Great Black-backed Gull chicks were a good size for colour ringing. This is an important part of a study looking at juvenile survival, dispersal and recruitment into the breeding population. Over 25% of the chicks colour-ringed last year were resighted in Cornwall. 
 Waiting for glue to set on a numbered colour ring...
Along the lighthouse track, a study transect was established in 2013 where Manx Shearwaters are ringed and retrapped to look at adult survival and recruitment of juveniles to the population.  Many visiting ringers find this nocturnal activity to be the highlight of their stay. Visitors to the island are invited to join the ringers and find it fascinating to see this secretive bird in the hand and to learn more about them.
Work in the Manx Shearwater study plots - there 193 study burrows which are natural burrows with a slab over the nest chamber to allow easy access. These are visited early in the season to see which adults have returned to the colony. All burrows where an egg is produced are then monitored to see what proportion of pairs fledge a chick.
We checked out the last few unknown partners in occupied burrows.
Adult Razorbills are ringed as part of long term studies into adult survival and the juveniles as part of long term productivity monitoring.
 A day of nips and scratches and crawling around in guano!
Razorbills carry ticks and a search after the visit to the Razorbill colony was justified as one was found firmly attached!

A visit to Skokholm a week earlier last year was busy with ringing Oystercatcher chicks. This year they are later and we only ringed one, though many more will be produced from the 40 pairs.
Herring and Lesser Black-backed gulls are ringed as part of the study into long-term survival. Here Richard is teaching one of the long term volunteers how to measure the head and bill of a Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Ringers and non- ringers are welcome to stay on Skokholm. Further details here..
Visit Skokholm

The Skokholm annual report is well worth a read for a detailed insight into the work on the island.
Skokholm Annual Report 2014

Friday, 5 June 2015

Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers

A visit to our nest boxes today to ring the pulli.
In Ffynone wood just one box was used by Pied Flycatchers.
All 6 eggs hatched but for some reason, maybe bad weather, only 3 were alive today.

Only one box was used by Pied Flycatchers in Pengelli wood too. Better success here though with 7 pulli from 7 eggs ringed.
For the first time in Pengelli, one box was used by Redstart
although in previous years they had nested in a nearby tree which has since fallen down
6 Redstart pulli were ringed, their red tails making no doubt about the identification!
A disappointing year for Pied Flycatchers in our North Pembrokeshire woods but every successful nest is a bonus as we are right on the limit of their range in Wales. Excellent distribution maps illustrating this can be viewed on the BTO Atlas mapstore

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Our first Goldfinch to the Loire......!

Goldfinch D678880 was ringed in Boncath during part of a study into local Siskins. This study will hopefully develop in to a RAS. The Goldfinch was ringed on 8th April 2014 and found sick on the 13th April 2015 at Ports, Indre-et-Loire, France, 370 days later and a movement of 669km.

Though we have caught Goldfinches with large biometrics, suggesting a more continental origin, D687880 with a wing of 79mm and weight of 16.1g indicates a more local origin.

We carried out CES 3 yesterday, with good numbers compared to previous years CES 3.
Highlights included a Lesser Whitethroat with a brood patch, always a good record for this fairly recent colonist to West Wales, and  a breeding female Willow Warbler, first ringed in 2011 and caught in every breeding season since. Amongst the 42 new, and 34 retraps - two Whitethroats, a Garden Warbler, the first moulting adult Great and Blue Tits and 12 juvenile Robins.
Also five returning Reed Warblers, including one from 2010.

....Back to garden finches....
Above a photo of a feeder outside the Tip cabin- our Long Point Bird Obs. accommodation complete with Pine Siskin, Purple Finch and American Goldfinch. The Pine Siskins are much less colourful than ours, larger, with little difference between the sexes.

Now back from Long Point Bird Obs. in Canada time to catch the local Siskins, hopefully producing a RAS project. During 2014 from 30th May to mid July when they leave, 82 new and 36 retrap Siskins were caught in Boncath. Also a 3JJ Siskin moved from Llechryd to Boncath in 24 hours, a 5km movement. We are hoping that this year we can develop this into a RAS as suggested by the BTO.
(photos Mick Townsend)

Monday, 25 May 2015

We return from the Tip ! Of Long Point Bird Obs.

Mick and I are just back from 37 nights at the TIP banding station and another great Spring !
A few quick photos- species and data when home in Wales on Wednesday. This 2nd year male Yellow-headed Blackbird started the show- an adult male to follow !

Perhaps the scarcest bird of the trip - this White-winged Dove, the 1st since 2012.

Not the rarest of birds- a spectacular bird in the hand !
This female Belted Kingfisher....

Another great flycatcher species for us too...this time a scarce but near annual Western Kingbird.
 Our trip nearly over -

Much more to discuss, the following all banded. 31 species of warbler, 14 species of sparrow. Also six species of vireo banded in one morning. Twice we exceeded 55 different species banded in the session-
---so much to this banding station......
                                              The Tip.....!!

 Mick Townsend from Stanford RG- where I started my ringing, joined with me as he has done for the last five years...(photos, a selection of Mick's and mine)

                        The final sunrise of our season at the Tip.

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.