Tuesday, 16 June 2020

A Woodcock to Lambeth South London

Interesting  !!
... One leg of a ringed Woodcock was found in Lambeth, South London on 25th May 2020

Luckily the leg was carrying the ring of a bird we ringed on our Frenni study site in February 2015. If this bird was killed locally to London then presumably it was on the usual migration for our Woodcock back to the breeding grounds of Russia...
Wondering... was this was the result of London Peregrines, or of the game meat trade ?

The table below show our captured species totals by location during May 1st - June 14th,
(a period with movement restrictions)

Due to the travel restriction being lifted slightly some non garden pulli were ringed, of interest Dippers and Pied Flycatchers by Karen and Great Tits by Andrew.

Dipper pulli (TRG library photo)

165 House Sparrows captured - a greater total than the 145 Blue Tits, with both Alison and Andy recording more than 50 captures.

Charlie ringed many House Sparrows. This is one of his photos from 2018

183 Siskin captures during the 6 week period, mainly from Arfon's local sites. Since the data was compiled Arfon has captured a female Siskin ringed in Boncath on 19th March 2020, a distance of 51km.
The following recovery external to the Group.
Siskin AYH3324 ringed at Bidston, Wirral by Merseyside RG on 26/03/2020
Subsequent encounter at Ffarmers, Carmarthenshire 18/04/2020 and 16/05/2020
157km SSW  23 days  SSW

Arfon and Wendy have now carried out "Garden CES" 3 with encouraging results in terms of variety of species and numbers. Enough data to be able to help decide the feasibility of  long term  garden CES studies.

This net across the lawn has caught a wide variety including Treecreeper, juvenile Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs.

Those local to Cardigan could enter the Teifi  Marsh sites from the 7th June.

Our first juvenile Kingfisher, Chiffchaff and Blackcaps have now been ringed and both RAS projects on the reserve now have a good start.
21 Reed Warblers have surprisingly included 11 new birds all of which were showing signs of breeding.
17 Reed Buntings, the oldest ringed in Aug 2011 and we ringed the 1st juvenile yesterday.
A Wren caught yesterday was ringed in 2015 and is worth a mention being 5 years old.

Looking ahead - Arfon has secured permission from NRW to untertake a RAS project on the Willow Tits there. Andy has visited Blaenduad a couple of times since a recent extensive forest fire.
Fire at Blaenduad pictures from a local farmer which shows the habitat at this site.
Although much of the burnt area was good habitat the Land Managers are keen for Andy to continue to ring and help monitor the regeneration.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

The Spring of 2020

With the current situation we are following guidelines and not travelling to ringing sites. Some of the group have been able to continue long running ringing in their gardens, one of which is a RAS study site for Siskins.

The BTO staff are working from their homes and continuing to process recoveries and we were pleased to receive the following interesting movements..

Woodcock  EZ52428
Ringed near Ffarmers,, Carmarthenshire  03/01/2020
Shot  Kursk, Russian Federation  28/03/2020 85 days 2750 km E

We have had several reports of Woodcock ringed on their wintering sites shot in Russia when they returned to breed. The locations of some of the finding reports are shown on the map

Goldfinch APJ0130
Ringed Bancyffordd, Carmarthenshire 04/11/2019
Re-encountered Poyntzpass, Armagh, Northern Ireland  10/04/2020 158 days 287 km NNW
by Belfast & Down Ringing Group

This is the first recorded movement of a Teifi Ringing Group to Northern Ireland.

As well as resident birds some migrants appeared in gardens. The first to return were Chiffchaffs, some with pollen horns picked up in warmer countries as they migrated back north. Research has shown that the pollen is mostly from Eucalyptus or Citrus trees.

This is a Blackcap, also with a pollen horn.

Willow Warblers and most recently a Garden Warbler added to the migrants.

Breeding of our resident birds is well under way and this week saw the first juvenile Siskins being brought to the feeders by the adults.

Adults from previous years are being re-encountered providing good data for our Siskin RAS (Retrapping Adults for Survival) project.

We will continue with our garden ringing and at least two of the Group may try the newly announced "Garden CES"  project ringing.
We are prepared and ready to start ringing at our established sites once the current situation allows.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Late winter.....

January and February have delivered difficult conditons for ringing, though most members of the Group have managed some ringing - more later !
A couple of summer migrant movements have been reported.
Only our second foreign Blackcap movement this to Belgium, the previous to Donges, Loire-Atlantique, France.

Blackcap  ACF8747
Ringed  Blaenduad, Carmarthenshire 01/08/2019
Lebbeke, Oost-Vlananderen, Belgium 05/10/2019 65 days   596 km ESE
A typical annual recovery of a Sedge Warbler moving south in late summer

Sedge Warbler  ADH8591
Teifi Marshes 08/08/2019
Saint Vigour D'Ymonville, Saine Maritime 25/08/2019 17 days  456 km SE

Both the Warbler movements above shown on the above map.
The fields below are part of the Boncath Woodcock study site showing the original ringing and re encounter of Woodcock EY81489. Typical of all our re encounters, very close to the original ringing site. Amazing wintering site fidelity for these long distance migrants.
This recapture 3 years after ringing.

We have tried to involve as many of the Group in night time activites as possible, primarily catching Woodcock and Skylarks, other species too. A new experience in the field at night for all is the use of Wendy's Thermal Imager.  Not only an aid to catch birds, but a great tool to improve the survey - all the activities are entered as complete lists into BTO Birdtrack.

Out on the Frenni site - I am clearly helping Molly process a Snipe caught in a wet field edge rut.

We have been unable to ring either with nets or potter traps due to the weather on the Teifi Marsh sites, but Andy has been catching Starlings, Wendy has been catching various garden and woodland birds including this Greenfinch with a nice moult limit - one of several Greenfinches caught.

A small window in the weather this morning allowed for some training, this Great Tit one of the highlights, ringed in 2014 and not re encountered since.

Arfon has been ringing at new sites with Naomi and is doing well with Siskins, including 90 Siskins one afternoon, a couple of controls too including the one below.

Siskin   S00366
Ringed Nantmel, Rhayader, Powys 09/02.2017
             Ffarmers, Carmarthenshire 23/02/2020 1109 days  44 km WSW

We may get onto the Teifi Marshes this coming week, a likely activity will be with potter traps at Mallard Pond as part of  the Reed Bunting colour-ringing project. Then on the 16th March four of the Group are off to Uganda ringing.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

A slow mid winter and 2019 totals

A mild, windy and wet winter has meant few opportunities for ringing. Having said that, numbers aren't too bad with 645 birds of 35 species processed since the last blog six weeks ago.

Lamping has provided several of those species particularly at Arfon's new sites in the hills in the north of Carmarthenshire. A summary of our nocturnal activities and lamping totals will be given at the end of the winter once the Woodcock season is over. Species at night in the last few weeks have included Woodcock, Golden Plover, Fieldfare, Skylark and Meadow Pipit

A Snipe on Frenni was the first for a while. It was picked up with the thermal image camera. We are still getting used to the capabilities of this gadget but it is probably fair to say that for some species it has increased our ability to find birds at night.
The picture here showing the white markings on the tail of the Snipe.

Passerines included another Firecrest (five on the Teifi Marsh this winter). Starling numbers are well down in Andy's garden likewise Reed Buntings on the Teifi Marsh are not needing to come to seed feeders with the mild weather and abundance of natural food. In windy weather we have managed to catch another 8 Reed Buntings towards our RAS project in Potter traps which also caught this Moorhen.

We have resighted several colour -ringed Reed Buntings including a male ringed in August 2010 which is often around Mallard Hide. Siskins are starting to return to the garden feeders. 43 have been processed including several from previous years.

Recent news from the BTO about 2 Siskins we have caught that were ringed elsewhere

S217839 Ringed Llanfynydd, Carmarthenshire 17/07/2016
                Recaptured Llechryd, Ceredigion        20/01/2020 1282 days Distance: 39 km
S516061 Ringed Bratton, Minehead, Somerest 01/06/2018
                Recaptured Bancyffordd, Carms         24/01/2020 602 days   Distance: 106 km

The totals for last year have now been published
2019 Teifi Ringing Group totals

9011 birds of 80 species. The stories around the unusual species like the Yellow-browed Warbler and analysis of some of the captures have been discussed in previous blogs so can be searched via the search box for further details

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Early winter highlights

Starlings to and from Lithuania....

In June 2016 a Starling we had ringed on the Teifi Marsh in 2014 was caught in Silutes, Lithuania.

Today we had news of a Starling ringed in Richard's garden in Boncath in 2017 also being caught in Silutes.
Starling   LH96168
Ringing date: 09-Dec-2017
Boncath, Pembrokeshire
Finding date: 31-Aug-2019
Ventes Ragas, Silutes, Lithuania

Duration: 630 days   Distance: 1738 km

We have also had news of a Starling ringed at the same site in Lithuania caught in Andy's garden.
Starling  KH87524
Ringing date: 12-JUL-2018
Ventes Ragas, Silutes, Lithuania, Lithuania
Finding date: 21-NOV-2019
Bancyffordd, Carmarthenshire, Wales
Duration: 497 days Distance: 1717 km

With the wet and windy weather for the last few weeks there have been minimal ringing opportunities. We have managed the first of the winter phase of our Reed Bunting colour ringing project looking at adult survival. 21 Reed Buntings were caught in Potter traps including 2 old retraps ringed in 2010 and 2011. The longevity record is 9 years and 11 months with an average lifespan of 3 years ( BTO birdfacts). Our second session with a potential trainee was much quieter on a milder morning with just one retrap and 1 new bird.
Thanks to the photographers visiting the reserve who send us sightings.

Good news that one of our trainees, Alison, has gained her C permit. Well deserved for her hard work. Thanks to other trainers who have welcomed her to widen her ringing experience which has included raptors in South Africa.

Richard and myself have just returned from a couple of weeks on a BTO ringing expedition to The Gambia. This has been running for 9 years at Kartong Bird Observatory.
It was great to be part of a ringing team working on scientific projects and sharing knowledge with locals, 2 of which are BTO trainees.

Friday, 8 November 2019

Autumn 2019

Most of the Group have managed to join us in our site on the Pembrokeshire side of the Teifi Marshes Reserve over the early autumn. This is good scrubby habitat regenerating on slate waste adjacent to the river. We hope to maintain once per fortnight visits through the late autumn and winter seasons. Interesting records include an arrival of  Cetti's Warblers, several Firecrests and as expected with 11 years ringing at the site plenty of quality recaptures.

Some of the group highlights since the end of August include...

On the 19th September, our 6th new female Cetti's of the autumn. For two years Cetti's haven't bred on the reserve or nearby. By the end of October at least one male was singing and on 6th November Chris and Sion caught the 1st male since the "beast from the east" on the Pentood side of the marsh.
By mid September Blackcaps were the main warbler with 12 caught on the 19th and 14 on the previous day. Only 6 Chiffchaff on the 19th and the acro species had dried up, but Goldcrests now daily.

Cetti's Warbler

October 15th a great result for Wendy....
"Planting 800 trees on our fields near Cardigan has increased biodiversity but a surprise today in a Yellow-browed Warbler, a vagrant which breeds in Siberia and winters in SE Asia."

Yellow-browed Warbler

A Firecrest on Oct 22nd was the 2nd of four so far this autumn. November is our best month for them so maybe some more. Also the first 6 Redwing of the season with many more having been caught in early morning sessions since.


On Nov 4th, Chris and Sion made a very good return to the Pentood nets. Surprisingly no Firecrest amongst 70g of Goldcrests and 120g of Long-tailed Tits but the session did include 1 Water Rail, 1 Stonechat, 1 Blackcap and 3 Cetti's including the 1st male since wipe-out in winter 17/18. A first for the site is unusual but the 1st Siskin was caught too.

By early November Wendy recorded continuous passage of Redwing over her fields, many stopping off to feed on Hawthorn berries. Each evening large numbers dropped down to roost in woodland  planted a few years ago. Good to see a poorly drained unproductive field now developing into habitat being used by migrants. During this 1st week of November several of the Group have been ringing Redwings here and a Chiffchaff on the 7th. 


Other ringing around the Group's sites has included ;
Karen making catches of Meadow Pipits near Dinas and Andy at Blaenduad.
Starlings have returned to Andy's garden and he has caught a bird ringed elsewhere with a BTO ring in March 2016. Details awaited.
Arfon has been catching Lesser Redpolls whilst carrying out a recce at  new site..

Some recent encounters elsewhere of  birds ringed by us

Chiffchaff  LNY034
Ringing date: 14-SEP-2019, Blaenduad,  Carmarthenshire
Finding date: 19-OCT-2019  Le Neubourg, Eure, France
Hit a window, but recovered

Duration: 35 days Distance: 487 km Direction: 131deg (SE)

Sedge Warbler  S160853
Ringing date: 01-MAY-2016  Teifi Marshes, Cardigan, Ceredigion
Finding date: 26-AUG-2019   Nanjizal, Lands End, Cornwall

Duration: 1212 days  Distance: 238 km Direction: 199deg (SSW)

Sedge Warbler  ABB9764
Ringing date: 21-APR-2019  Teifi Marshes, Cardigion, Ceredigion
Finding date: 21-AUG-2019 Migron, Frossay, Loire-Atlantique, France
Duration: 122 days Distance: 571 km Direction: 160deg (SSE)

Wendy and I are off to Gambia on a BTO ringing expedition and return at the end of November.  I understand Andy, Arfon and Chris are likely - weather permitting to be able to offer ringing opportunities to the group.

We were disappointed that we had to cancel our September trip to Skokholm Bird Obs due to the weather, but Group members should be aware of 4 trips to Skokholm arranged for next year.

Friday, 11 October 2019

2019 - an overview of Blaenduad and some thoughts on Willow Warblers

I made a couple of casual visits to the Blaenduad plantation in 2018 and considered that it might be a good area to carry out some nest recording in future years. I requested permission to carry out study work at the site and my first visit in 2019 revealed my lack of experience with conifer plantations. Off the main rides, a ‘secret’ maze of drainage channels existed and within 30 minutes I had ended up viewing the landscape from the perspective of beetles, ants and the like. I located a Willow Warbler nest site under construction but soon realised that a broken ankle or worse was also a potential outcome of such off-piste adventures. One sunny morning, I estimated around 50 male Willow Warblers were holding territory.  A further visit to locate a Stonechat nest ended without a fall but also without success. On the next visit I wasn’t surprised to find a newly fledged party of Stonechats and a male Common Whitethroat courting a female, slightly too early for nest construction but they would surely do so. Tree Pipits were displaying (how do they sing with food in their beaks) as the plantation gradually started to come alive.  During some of my initial visits, mist nets were erected in locations where pairs of birds were thought to be holding territory and after three visits, I had ringed 35 birds of 13 species with Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Common Whitethroat being the most numerous.

The season progressed and I started to get more familiar with the site. I watched how birds flew around the site and adapted the positioning of mist nets to suit. Nets that would seem quite avoidable still caught birds. The following four visits saw a further 59 birds ringed including 14 Willow Warbler, 2 Chiffchaff and 4 Common Whitethroat. I also worked out when the midges started biting in the morning and by what time they would finish.

By the end of June, 20 different species had been ringed along with a further 92 individuals. The Willow Warbler total increased by another 34 birds and surely the midge season would end soon.

July arrived and the Willow Warbler total quickly increased…..by a further 209 birds! This mass of birds was largely within the first three weeks of the month as nests were vacated. August arrived and only 16 new birds were ringed. The final Willow Warbler to be ringed was on the 2nd of September. July was very productive and the diversity of juvenile species ringed at the site was hopefully a good indication of successful breeding in the immediate vicinity. The way the Willow Warblers rapidly disappeared was an indication that the site may not be attractive to birds on passage. This idea was reinforced by the similar post breeding departure of Blackcaps.

September saw large numbers of Meadow Pipit invade the site and good numbers of Goldcrest and Chiffchaff continued throughout the month, the latter being contrary to what I had expected considering what happened with the Willow Warblers and Blackcaps. Reed Bunting numbers gradually increased which might have indicated some sort of passage or perhaps the heather or similar plants were producing seeds resulting in an influx from the surrounding areas. Lesser Redpolls also appeared in significant numbers with some juvenile birds still having no red forehead well into the month but there was nothing to say that these birds were from the locality.

It is not possible to draw too many conclusions from one season of ringing at a site. 1070 new birds of 29 species were ringed over the five-month trial period and that alone generates enough interest for me to want to ring the site again next year and beyond. Blaenduad is a plantation; trees grow and so a CES is out of the question. Sitka Spruce are fast growing trees and the site will rapidly change and will in time become less attractive to such a diversity of birds while becoming more attractive to individual species.

Blaenduad has yielded significant numbers of both Willow Warbler and Common Whitethroat. It will be interesting to see what return rate there is to the site next spring. For Willow Warbler there could be enough individuals to create a RAS. I hadn’t considered Common Whitethroat to be a particularly common bird around northern Carmarthenshire as most hedgerows do not appear that suitable? Perhaps I haven’t got that correct or maybe the scrub at Blaenduad provides an equally good alternative.

With a significantly large catch of Willow Warblers, it has been possible to plot the wing length of adult birds and juvenile birds. The first of the graphs below shows two distinct peaks but at the same time a potential overlap between sexes. The second graph introduces first year birds.

The two peaks in the juvenile wing lengths reflect the adult peaks but offset by about -2mm. The magnitude of the right had peak in the ‘first year bird’ line is probably a bias introduced by playing sound lures (ie more males trapped). At present I don’t have enough data to look in detail at body mass comparisons against wing lengths. Many of the spring females were in various stages of egg production/laying and male birds may have been on the light side due to energies expended during territory defence. However, it has made me wonder if first year birds are forced to adopt a different autumn migration strategy if, as a result of shorter wing length, they have a higher wing loading.