Monday, 22 May 2017

CES, nest boxes and Mwnt

A summary of what the group has been doing in the last 2 weeks.
The first 2 CES sessions were completed in good weather conditions, calm and cloudy.
CES 1 saw the first juvenile birds of 3 species - Long-tailed Tits, Blackbird and Dunnock
69 birds were caught (38 new)
The oldest retrap was a Reed Warbler ringed in 2013 and retrapped each year since.

Previous CES 1 totals in the last 6 years have mostly been similar  (58,65,64,42,81,156) The abnormally high total in 2016 was due to CES 1 coinciding with a fall of 102 migrant Sedge Warblers that morning.

The first juvenile Robins were ringed at CES 2 on the 17th May.

Juvenile Robin

Juvenile numbers were 9 Robins, 3 Blackbirds, 11 Long-tailed Tits and 3 Dunnocks.
74 birds were caught of which 46 were new.
The oldest retrap was a Blackbird ringed as an adult in 2010 and only recaptured once since then in 2014.
5 retrap Reed Warblers were 1 each from 2012 and 2015 and 3 from 2014.

Nest boxes at Ffynone wood, Pengelli and various sites in the Towy Valley are being checked regularly. Also some open nests are being monitored.
Marsh Tits, Nuthatches, Dippers, Linnets and Grey Wagtail pulli have been ringed.
Pied Flycatcher nest with 7 eggs

At Mwnt, our Linnet RAS project is going well with a satisfying number of last years birds retrapped this breeding season. A smart male Wheatear was a nice addition to the Linnets caught in a Whoosh net.

Male Wheatear

News of a few recoveries from the BTO...

This male swan, pictured here keeping a watchful as we ringed one of his cygnets in February, was ringed in 2006 as an adult at St Dogmaels.

He is at least 11 years old and breeding again on Mallard pond on the Teifi Marsh but this year with only 1 cygnet.

A couple of Siskins ringed in our gardens late winter last year were in Scotland instead at the same time this year.
Siskin Z802913 ringed Boncath 28th March 2016 , controlled on 11th March 2017 in Shebster, Highland
Siskin Z802778 ringed Llechryd 8th April 2016, controlled in Killiegowan, Dumfries and Galloway on 4th April 2017

Another Siskin movement, S574004 was ringed in Llanfynydd on 20th March 2017 and 43 days later was 299km NNE in West Burton, North Yorkshire. Unfortunately this was reported dead after hitting a window.
Another bird found dead had been killed by a cat. Z511166 was ringed in Llechryd 0n 28th October 2015 and reported in Sucre-sur-Edre, Loire-Atlantique, France on 6th March 2017

While most of the regulars of the group were away we were very grateful that Alastair Wilson and Ros Green were able to continue our migration monitoring on the Teifi Marsh. Amongst the Sedge Warblers they caught on 4th May was a control, ringed last September on its first autumn migration at Hengistbury Head in Dorset.

The last recent recovery was Sedge Warbler S161774 ringed on the Teifi Marsh on 15th August 2016 and controlled In Jonkershove, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium 14 days later on the 29th August.

A busy week ahead with CES 3 to complete, nest boxes to check and pulli to ring, 2 of the group off to Skokholm Island ringing, Chough ringing on Ramsey and 2 of the group helping with the biannual count of seabirds on Cardigan Island.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Ringing at Strait of Gibraltar Bird Observatory

News from the Teifi soon, but first a summary of a week spent ringing in Gibraltar by three of the group. Because of its location on a key migration route, the Rock of Gibraltar has long been a recording site for the migration of raptors, sea birds, passerines and near-passerines. Ringing has been an increasing part of that recording effort since 1991.

Morocco and the short sea crossing for migrants viewed from one of our nets
Ringing is done at the Jews Gate Bird Observatory on the Upper Rock Nature reserve. Visiting ringers are made very welcome by the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society.

As well as being the ringing base, Jews Gate is also the location for raptor migration counting. We learned a lot from the raptor-counters about identifying fly-over raptors. On one day, for example, the counts were Honey Buzzard 69, Black Kite 1572, Griffon Vultures 19, Egyptian Vulture 2, Short-toed Eagle 10, Marsh Harrier 6, Booted Eagle 21, Sparrowhawk 46, Kestrel 2, and Hobby 5.

A Booted Eagle (photo Andrew Hughes)

Most days we were opening 16 nets in Mediterranean matorral (scrub) of mostly Olive and Lentisc.
Rather nice views from the nets...

...some of which are quite steep:

In 8 days we processed 382 birds of 38 species. The most frequently caught birds were Willow Warbler (100), Garden Warbler (44), Pied Flycatcher (28) and Melodious Warbler (19). We had a fall of birds on the day following a day of exceptional rain (146mm), during which we caught 180 birds.

The most unexpected species was Icterine Warbler.  We caught two - the first ringed on Gibraltar  since one day in 2006 when four were ringed.

The overall size and the long wing of this species were immediately noticeable in the hand when compared with the smaller but otherwise similar Melodious Warbler.

The Scops Owl is a species caught in good numbers during Autumn migration, just one for us while catching Nightjars

Red-necked Nightjar, 6 were ringed...

... as well as four European Nightjar. Other species included:

Turtle Dove

Golden Oriole

Sub-alpine Warbler

Woodchat Shrike


Western Orphean Warbler

... and one of the residents:

Sardinian Warbler

We learned a lot during a very enjoyable week. Many thanks to Steve Norman (resident ringer), Charles Perez (GOHNS) and to Jill Yeoman for the welcome and importantly in a land of very steep hills, the lift to Morrisons.

Strait of Gibraltar Bird Observatory
Recent records from GOHNS

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Migrants return and wandering Finches

After a break for the winter we have returned to our reed bed sites on the Teifi Marsh.
Already the site is alive once again with the sound of Sedge and Reed Warblers and a couple of Grasshopper Warblers.
One of the first Sedge Warblers back was one we ringed in 2014 and recaptured each year since.

The second Reed Warbler of the spring was also one of our breeding birds, ringed in 2013.

In the last week, the number of Wagtails coming to roost in the reeds has been increasing. A mixture of Pied and White Wagtails have been ringed

but the surprise last night was seeing a Yellow Wagtail perched next to the net.

Our work with Linnets continues at Mwnt . A good number of birds ringed in the breeding season last year are now returning. Other species are caught at Mwnt too and last week we caught one of the twelve Wheatear stopping off on the headland on their way north.

Not all of the Linnets ringed by the group are caught at Mwnt though. A surprise this month when one was feeding in my garden on sunflower hearts. A new species for the garden possibly meaning that there is a shortage natural food.

The appearance of this bird coincided with a big passage of Goldfinch that many commented on.

Some Finch recovery news;
One of my garden Goldfinches ringed in October 2015 was killed by a cat in Suce-sur-Edre, Loire-Atlantique, France this March. (567km, 495 days)
Finches do move around the country in seemingly random ways. A Siskin that was ringed in Richard's garden last March was in Shepbster, Highland this March 729 km away. A local breeding Siskin ringed in Richard's garden last June was found dead in Berrynarbor, Devon this March after contracting Trichomonosis.
A Lesser Redpoll was fairly close to it's original ringing site in Lower Cwmtyrch, Powys (May 2016) when it was retrapped in Charlies garden this March (27km 314 days)

Charlie has been busy reviving a Tree Sparrow nest box scheme in the Towy Valley. Details of this project from him in the next blog.

Meanwhile some of the group are ringing away from the UK. Richard is in Cyprus for 5 weeks and 3 of us are off to Gibraltar Bird Observatory next week.

***Sunday morning update
Karen has just caught a French ringed Sedge Warbler at Goodwick Moor. This is another reserve managed by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales that she has worked hard at over the winter to prepare as a new ringing site.We caught 16 control Sedge Warblers on the Teifi Marsh last spring so hopefully some more to come in the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Linnets, a Swan, and some French people

Our Linnet RAS project started up again at the beginning of April. Having re-trapped only 4 of our breeding birds from 2016 at the site since mid-October, it was very gratifying to suddenly get 11 of them in a catch of 35 earlier this week. Where have they been?  Where have the ones we've been catching all winter gone now?  We desperately need other Welsh ringers to make an effort to catch more Linnets to help us find out.  That's 747 of them ringed in a little under a full year, with no controls found here, or recoveries reported from elsewhere.

Yesterday afternoon while putting up some nets on our scrubby site beside the river Teifi, we noticed a single Mute Swan fly in and settle on the river. We also noticed that it was carrying a blue plastic ring with white numbers on it, so we knew it wasn't one of our resident pair (who just have normal numbered metal rings).

Today, while we (well, Wendy mostly) were doing a ringing demo for some attentive French students on a field trip, the swan was still there, but as he (we decided it was a he) spent all his time facing into the current and with the ring being on his left leg, it was nearly always out of sight.  Eventually however he swam over closer to where we were ringing, offering tantalising glimpses...

... before waving his leg in the air while preening - but the numbers on the ring still couldn't be seen...

This went on for what seemed like ages, but eventually, thank goodness, he let himself be identified, so hopefully we'll soon find out where he's come from.

It's hard to imagine a more idyllic venue for doing a ringing demo, although it was a bit on the nippy side for a while -

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Firecrest, Finches and a Spanish Reed....

Following a visit to Mwnt on Monday with Alastair, Ros and Jenny for Linnets and 12 caught, Chris visited the CES site this morning where after finding a Bittern roosting in net ride 11 caught this 5 male Firecrest.

The 15th Firecrest that we have caught, the 11th for the CES site, and only the 2nd Firecrest that we have caught outside November, the other being captured on 31st Oct...!!

Goldfinch S107585 was caught last Saturday 4th February in Boncath, having  been ringed in Dorset on February 22nd 2016. A different winter range this year....or a slightly different returning journey to the breeding ground maybe...?

Reed Warbler S321095 was ringed at our Mallard net rides on 23rd August 2016 by Tristian one of our trainees. A 3J bird which I guess was migrating as we never retrapped the bird, and we ring almost daily in August during the acro passage season. The bird was recaptured on 17th September 2016, ....992 Kms in 25 days to northern Spain. Our second Reed Warbler recovery from Spain.

These would appear to be the net rides in the reed bed at Jaizubia, Hondarribia on the north coast of Spain where the Reed Warbler was caught

The period for our Siskin RAS is 1st May - 31st July, ...but we catch variable numbers of birds outside these dates. Last Saturday was interesting, not only for the Goldfinch control described above but also the 1000th Siskin encounter processed at the site.

Even more interesting were the Siskin recaptures - 2 birds both ringed as 3J, one in July 2014 the other in July 2015, and both caught every early Spring since....

(Photos and maps from Chris and Wendy)

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Wandering finches

Where do our winter Goldfinches go?
Some recoveries and controls show just how random their winter movements seem to be.
The first recovery of one of our Goldfinches in Ireland was caught in Thomastown in Kildare on New Year's Eve 2016 having been ringed in my garden near Cardigan in January 2016.

This Goldfinch was ringed in Charlie Sargent's garden 40km away in 2014. Last month it was feeding in my garden.

Unfortunately it has diseased legs and overgrown claws but was a good weight and otherwise healthy.

Another Goldfinch ringed in 2014 in Charlie's garden also moved west, being caught in Richard's Boncath garden last March. 39km 218 days.
Today the triangle of movement between group members' gardens was completed with a Goldfinch ringed in my garden in Llechryd last March being caught by Chris in his St Dogmael's garden today.

Other Goldfinch movements on the map are an adult ringed on Bardsey Island in April 2013 that was in St Dogmaels 56 days later in June and again in October.
A Goldfinch ringed in St Dogmaels in March 2014 was in Leswalt, Dumfries and Galloway the following January, 2015.
One ringed in Funtley, Hampshire 19th March 2016 was near Cardigan 29 days later 271km.
Our only foreign recovery was one from Boncath ringed in April 2014 found sick in Ports, Indre et Loir in April the following year.
Charlie has recently controlled a Goldfinch with a Paris ring. We are awaiting details from the BTO.

This week the first Siskins of the year have returned to my garden

These, like Goldfinches move around the country seemingly randomly in Winter.
 Have a look back at this previous blog about them
Siskins;  winterers, migrants, breeders and RAS

Lamping at night is continuing but this year so far the number of Woodcock wintering on local sheep pasture seems very low. Other night field roosting species are down too including Fieldfare, Golden Plover and only a handful Skylark but we did ring one this week.

A break from braving the wild weather on the hills last night for our ringing group AGM. Ten of us reflected on last years activities and data. (5,124 birds of 73 species). Looking at some data in comparison with 2015 was interesting and helped us plan target species and sites for the year.

Linnets up from 2 to 573!
We are keen to engage with project ringing as much as possible and this year will be once again doing CES on the Teifi Marsh with thoughts of a 2nd CES along with 4 RAS projects.

Sunday, 29 January 2017


At least that's what it was called when it was ringed on 04-Sep-16 at Nidingens Fågelstation, a bird observatory on a small island in the Kattegat, about 5km off the west coast of Sweden.

By the time it had got to Poppit Sands, 17 days and about 1200km (in a straight line) later, it had changed its name to Dunlin.

We've just received details of this nice control to round off our 2016 campaign targeting the rather sparse waders in the Teifi Estuary, which saw us process 83 Dunlin, 13 Ringed Plover, 2 Knot, 2 Redshank and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit.