Wednesday, 19 July 2017

CES season races along, Stormies and Skokholm

Another 3 CES sessions have been successfully completed since the last blog. CES 6 on the 25th June was quiet on a breezy day interrupted by showers with 52 birds ( 37 new, 15 retrap). Highlights were this  Blackcap ringed in 2011 and not seen since 2014,

also the 3rd juvenile Kingfisher on the reserve this year. The first post- breeding adults in wing moult gave the trainees a new challenge of learning moult scoring. CES 7 on the 7th July was busier with 84 birds ( 65 new and 19 retraps) as more juveniles fledge. Juveniles included Cetti's and Treecreeper but particularly interesting were 2 juvenile Whitethroat, a species that has been uncommon on the reserve this year. At CES 8 on the 17th July we caught 86 birds(61 new, 25 retrap). Highlights included a 7 year old Blackcap and a couple of moulting adult Reed Buntings.

Juveniles of 15 species were ringed including the first Garden Warblers, another Treecreeper and 18 Blackcaps.

With the moon waning, the last week has seen us out at night catching Storm Petrels. Unfortunately the weather over the weekend was less than ideal but with visitors from Norfolk here to ring with us we managed small catches at Mwnt and Strumble Head.

The wind dropped by Sunday night and we caught 10 at Mwnt. That means we have now ringed over 100, presumed non-breeding, Storm Petrels at this site.

Members of the group have been ringing elsewhere too. Charlie has been busy in his garden including a good training session with Andrew with a lot of Siskins.  He has been catching Crows too, not a species that the group rings often.

Two of us have been on Skokholm. The main target for ringing that week was the Great Black-backed pulli and Oystercatcher pulli. It was the annual Cardiff University week with post grad students for a change this year who were all very keen to help us and learn more about ringing in between doing their own research and writing.

The Great Black-backed Gulls are ringed with red darvics so keep an eye out for these once they fledge from the island.

Also some Puffins were colour ringed to top up the study population.

All the students and island staff were involved, a great team effort.

This has proved an excellent project for visitors to the island to get involved in by reading colour rings of returning birds in the study plot in Crab Bay.
Ringers are welcome on the island. More information on the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales website
Staying On Skokholm

Some recent revoveries to end with
Sedge Warbler S087750 was ringed on the Teifi Marsh on 22nd May 2016. 96 days later it was captured in Trunval, Treogat, Finistรจre, France. 466km This is the second of our Sedge Warblers to be caught here and we have controlled two of their birds.

Siskin Z802763 was ringed in my garden in Llechryd in April 2016 and unfortunately killed by a cat in Oban 25th June 2017 446 days 497 km N

Siskin S004546 was ringed in Llandrindod Wells, Powys on 22nd March 2017 and caught in Charlie's garden in Llanfynydd, Carmarthenshire 37 days later on 28th April 2017. 65km SW

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

CES, RAS, nests and Stormies

Two CES sessions have been completed successfully on the Teifi Marsh since the last blog.
CES 4 on the 9th June was fairly quiet in breezy conditions during a brief lull in a very stormy week.  29 new birds and 16 retraps including some returning Reed Warblers from 2014 and 15.
CES 5 was busier with 80 birds (55 new and 25 retraps). Highlights were the first juvenile Kingfisher of the year and an adult female Redstart.

This was only the 5th adult that we have caught in 8 years. Among the retraps was a Goldcrest ringed as a juvenile last year that was now a breeding bird and a Reed Warbler ringed in 2010.
Other ringing activities continue as well as CES...
The day after CES, we were up early again and ringing at 2 sites on a different part of the Teifi Marsh. More returning Reed Warblers for RAS and the first juvenile Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings. A couple of Cetti's Warbler juvs too.
Breeding Siskins are again being targeted in Richard's garden as part of a RAS project. The first juvenile was ringed on the 11th June.

Low numbers are coming to the garden feeders this summer so far but are very active in nearby woodland.
The first juvenile Linnet was ringed on the 7th June at Mwnt. Retrapping adults from last year for RAS is going very well with over 50 caught already. More details on this from Chris once the RAS season finishes. Our location for this ringing at Mwnt really is unbeatable on a sunny morning especially when deserted after a busy half term.

Also at Mwnt, but at night, we catch Storm Petrels. On Monday we caught the first five of the year. All were new but the map shows the different locations of controls to and from Mwnt previously.

Finally nest boxes. With many birds now fledged from their nests we can complete our nest records for submission.
One successful nest was Pied Flycatchers at Ffynone Wood.
Starting with 7 eggs, 6 hatched and 5 fledged.

Karen has been ringing Pied and Spotted Flycatcher pulli in the Gwaun Valley and Charlie has been ringing Swallows and continuing with his nest boxes in the Towy Valley. A blog about that project from Charlie soon.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

CES 3, a wandering Dipper, Chough and Skokholm.

A CES session that will long be remembered for the unprecedented number of Blackbirds! 28 juveniles, 5 new adults and 3 retraps.

The total for the session was 107 (87 new and 20 retrap) of 19 species.
Only 4 birds were extracted from the very dry reed bed nets, a female Reed Bunting with a brood patch, 2 retrap Reed Warblers from 2014 and 2015 and a juvenile Dunnock.
The only unusual capture was a juvenile Nuthatch, the second caught during a CES session although the 97th for the group with most being ringed in our gardens. A Coal Tit was unusual too, only the 7th CES bird. Compared to previous years we were missing Whitethroats and Lesser Whitethroats.

As well as CES, the group have been busy with other ringing activities.
Chris and Jenny went over to Ramsey Island to help ring Chough pulli. 4 chicks were colour ringed.

Thanks to Tim Guilford, Oxford University for the climbing expertise.
See Tweet by Ramsey Island

Karen had a surprise when she was helping at Paddy Jenks CES. A Dipper she had ringed at a nest box in the Gwaun Valley turned up in one of the nets. As Paddy explains in his blog, although only 10km away in a direct line it had jumped catchments, probably crossing the Preseli hills!
Pembs Ringing blog

Two of us have been out on Skokholm Island for a week. The highlight was undoubtedly a Bluethroat

but regular work was as interesting as ever with over 50 Manx Shearwaters caught one night and more adult Oystercatchers colour ringed as part of Pembs ringing group project looking at survival and dispersal.

Look out for Oystercatchers with orange colour rings.

With the continuing wind, our biggest challenge this week is trying to fit in CES4 but a fine weather window is looking unlikely at the moment.

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 -