Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Skokholm revisited

Another visit to Skokholm to help mainly with colour ringing Great Black-backed Gull chicks. This is part of the long term monitoring of survival and recruitment into the breeding population. The largest chick we ringed was already practicing stretching its wings and jumping.


This is one of the smaller chicks, back in its sheltered spot after ringing


and these were three from the same nest.


We were joined by Ieuan and Viola from the BTO who were out on the island with a group of Cardiff University students on their long running annual field course


Oystercatcher chicks were also colour ringed joining the Pembrokeshire Ringing Group wader study.


Once a year, a couple of hours are spent in Crab Bay mist-netting Puffins to top up up the colour ringed study population. Visitors to the island enjoy contributing to the study by looking for colour ringed birds in the study plot.


More about the Puffin ringing on The Skokholm Blog

We also caught some Passerines using mist nets, spring traps and running the Helgoland traps.  A lot of juvenile Wheatear were fledging around the island and a couple were ringed.


The wardens and volunteers were busy all week doing a whole island Storm Petrel Census, part of the 10 year national survey of the UK's breeding Storm Petrel population.  Vicky and Erin here using an endoscope to look into a Storm Petrel nest hole, though most of the surveying is using playbacks.


The count was featured on the BBC news website last week "Project to count Storm Petrels off Pembrokeshire Coast"

Cardiff University have been running a field course on Skokholm for many years, also held on Skomer for 3 years while the island was shut. The students spent the week doing various projects and gave interesting reports on their work at their end of course barbecue.


Some of them joined us catching Manx Shearwaters along the study transect at night.


Captures this year are averaging 50% retraps from previous years. Nice that the first Manxie we caught was one we ringed last June, back after its long journey to the South Atlantic.

Another very worthwhile week on Skokholm.
A stay on Skokholm is highly recommended. Ringers are welcome. See the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales website for information
Staying on Skokholm

Meanwhile, Andrew, our trainee, was out on Skomer helping with the Manx Shearwater research.  Here is a young chick being weighed


 Back to the Teifi now and CES is planned for Thursday.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

CES 5 ....before we wander

We managed a very successful CES 5 despite some forecasts of less than helpful weather. 79 of 18  species were captured, including our first Long-tailed Tit party of the season...9 new and 4 retraps.
Highlights included new adult Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Tit and this moulting adult male Redstart.


Redstarts breed nearby and we catch the occasional wanderer. Lesser Whitethroats breed on the site in small numbers, and this was our 4th Willow Tit, although the first adult. Willow Tits are rarely recorded around the Teifi, we know they breed around 5 miles away at Ffynone wood, a site connected via a tributary of the Teifi.


Nice to think our CES Willow Tit was from a closer breeding site. Two new adult Reed Warblers added interest with another three returning birds caught for the first time this year, two from 2013. Cettis, Garden Warbler and this juvenile Treecreeper were new species for our two trainees present, Andrew and Dai.


As well as ringing on the Teifi Marsh we are continuing to ring in our gardens and at Mwnt. At Mwnt we are continuing our Linnet study as well as ringing some other species including Stonechats.


Juvenile Stonechat on the left and adult (age 5) male on the right.


This week at Mwnt we also ringed a few House Sparrows wandering to feed from the nearby farm. Juveniles of many species are now on the garden feeders including Goldfinch, Siskins, and Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Last month, Wendy was surprised to catch this Redstart in the garden.


It turns out that the nest must be very close as the fledglings were on the washing line this week !


No ringing planned in the coming week as two of us are going to Skokholm again and others are off on holidays.
Pictures Andrew, Charlie and Wendy

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Linnets, French Controls, returning birds and nesting.

This week we caught the first juvenile Linnets of the year at Mwnt


We are still catching new adults and it is looking possible that we could do a Linnet Retrapping Adults for Survival (RAS) study here over the coming years.

More returning Reed Warblers this week for our RAS on the Teifi Marsh. A couple of 2 shelf nets in the reed bed in the evenings have added a few so we are now up to 36 recaptures. One of the older Reed Warblers was  L250901, ringed as a juvenile on the marsh in August 2010 and not seen since 2013.

Regular readers of the blog will remember that we caught a good number Sedge Warblers on migration this Spring. As well as 596 new birds ringed so far this year there have been 1 Belgian, 10 French and 4 UK controls. We have now had details from the BTO of three of the French birds...

All were ringed in France on Autumn migration and caught by us as they returned to their breeding sites this Spring.
6950593 was ringed at Les Barthes-de-Quartier-Bas in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques in August 2014. Caught on the Teifi Marsh 623 days later on 30th April. This was our second control from here.

7516694 was ringed at Trunval, Treogat, Finistere on 31st July 2015. Our first control from Finistere
Caught on the Teifi Marsh 272 days later on the 28th April

7506166 was ringed at Tour aux Moutons, Donges, Loire Atlantique on 9th August 2015
Caught on the Teifi Marsh 263 days later. We have had 4 previous Sedge Warbler controls from Donges and they have recovered 7 of our Sedge Warblers there.


Karen has been busy ringing pulli...
For the first time, Redstarts have nested in 2 boxes in Pengelli Wood, a Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales reserve of which she is the voluntary warden. One healthy brood was ringed a week ago well fed by this adult.


These have a bit of growing to do.....


Unfortunately no Pied Flycatchers have nested in the boxes this year but plenty of Great Tits..


 and Blue Tits. We have noted comments from other ringers of Pied Flycatchers in particular, observing problems this breeding season.

Unusually one box was used by a Marsh Tit with 5 chicks.
Karen has also ringed some Dipper Pulli in The Gwaun Valley. Unfortunately the Dipper boxes have only produced one successful nest with 2 young fledged.


Stonechat and Meadow Pipit pulli have been ringed at Mwnt too, with some nest finding training by Chris.

We had hoped to do CES 5 today but for the first time in ages a rainy weekend has postponed that until later in the week.

Finally, our newest trainee Dean has written enthusiastically about the start of his ringing training with us.
Ystwyth Birder blog

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Reed Warbler RAS, Storm Petrels, Chough and CES 4

The Group has been wandering to islands.......first though, our studies on the Teifi


This Saturday we captured 17 Reed Warblers across the CES and Pentood sites. All were retraps from previous years, the oldest ring from 2011. Our RAS season total is now 30 Reed Warblers and with another 15 from the CES site.
We caught our first juvenile Wrens, Chiffchaff, Dunnock, Song Thrush, and Chaffinch. Moulting adult Blue Tits and Great Tits gave us the opportunity to introduce moult scoring to our three new trainees.


Highlights included two Cetti's Warblers recaptures. This brings our site total for Cetti's to 14 this year,  (11 adult retraps and 3 new adults). Two new adult Lesser Whitethroats were our first for the year.


We tried our first Storm Petrel session of the year at Strumble Head after CES on Saturday. Great to start the season with an early successful catch with a couple Strumble sea-watchers joining us.


See the link below for Adrian's short piece on their visit.
Strumble Head Seawatching blog

Over a year ago our group were asked if we could help resume the monitoring of Chough on the RSPB reserve of Ramsey Island after a gap of 10 years.  This has turned out to be a fairly complicated process of co-ordinating the Schedule One licence (us), a team of RSPB accredited climbers (by Greg the reserve manager), and the Choughs' own breeding timetable (themselves) which meant that we were too late in the end to do anything last year. This year however, Chris and Ryan were able to colour-ring one brood of three at the most accessible site, which is a good start at least. Unfortunately the second brood that we had lined up was predated by a Raven earlier in the week.


Thanks to Annie Haycock for the photos

Wendy and I visited Skokholm Island Bird Observatory, where as well as general ringing nets, and 3 Helgoland Traps, we were also being trained in using special methods for catching breeding adult Oystercatchers and adult Great Black-backed Gulls.



The colour ringing of adults in addition to the young clearly advances this project forward. We will be returning to Skokholm in a couple of weeks to help colour ring this year's young.


We caught a few Spotted Flyctchers on our visit, a bird we rarely catch on our ringing sites, though we have ringed a few nests of Spotted Flycatcher pulli in our gardens.

Tonight - Tuesday we are planning to introduce a couple new members of the Group to Storm Petrel ringing at our Mwnt site, then we plan to catch more Linnets in the morning there too.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

CES 3...Garden Warblers to Pied Flycatcher

Garden Warbler X769673 - the star bird today.....or was it ??


One of  3 retrap and 1 new Garden Warblers, X769673 was ringed as an adult female on 31st May 2009, making her at least 8 years old. We last recorded this female breeding in July 2014.

 X769942, a Reed Warbler was also ringed as an adult in 2009, and this is the 5th year in which we have caught this male during the following 7 years.  Lots of site fidelity and adult recapture data from the 30 retraps at CES 3 today, but also what must be thought of as a small fall...


This second year male Pied Flycatcher was also a star after the 4am rain. The fall included 29  new Sedge Warblers, 8 new Reed Warblers and 2 Willow Warblers across both the CES site and the Pentood nets. These nets are across the other side of the marsh. (distance beyond that required ref. CES protocol).
The Reed Warblers may remain to breed as we are at the western edge of their range, most of the Sedge Warblers were still carrying fat suggesting a distance to travel...

Almost as unexpected was this Grasshopper Warbler on the CES site.


Difficult to believe but the Pied Flycatcher was the 1st non pulli Pied Flycatcher to be ringed by the Group, and a first for the Teifi Marsh sites.  Other highlights today included a new adult male Kingfisher, 2 retrap Cetti's Warblers, and we colour-ringed another Reed Bunting.

To finish today's activities, the Group's 1st juvenile Siskins of the year in Wendy's garden this afternoon.

(all photos Charlie Sargent, except the Siskin-Wendy)

Thursday, 5 May 2016

More exciting than French....an Irish Sedge Warbler

We have been wondering where all our Sedge Warblers go.
The breeding bird atlases show a high breeding density of Sedge Warblers in the bogs of central Ireland and we have been wondering......

(Photo by Dean, a new member of the Group)

We have several recoveries of birds migrating south...or returning north. These mainly involve movements to the west coast of France and to the marshes of Spain..
.....and with a bird to Senegal.


This Spring, our first recovery of a bird originally ringed in Ireland and now on its Spring migration back across the Irish Sea we presume.  X720412 was ringed as an adult in June 2015 on Great Saltee Island, Wexford. It was retrapped by us this week on the Teifi Marsh.


Other UK and controls of Sedge Warblers this Spring, (this week !!) now number 1 Belgian, 7 French (Museum Paris on the ring)


and four ringed elsewhere in the UK. One we caught on the Teifi Marsh last weekend was ringed by Steve Dodds on Cors Ddyga, Anglesey as a juvenile on its autumn migration in August 2014.

Reed Warblers are now returning. We retrapped three of our returning adults today, hopefully a few more in the morning. Our Reed Warbler RAS project is underway for a further season.
(RAS- Retrap Adults for Survival)

Monday, 2 May 2016

120 Sedge Warblers -- what a start to Spring

Early days this Spring in the Mallard area of the reed bed on the Teifi Marshes Reserve...our home !!
We have now caught 114 new Sedge Warblers...and a massive start. We have only caught 66 during April in the last 7 years, though we can catch c200 each May.


We have also captured 3 French, 1 Belgian and 2 UK controls this April.
So far none or our previous years birds have been captured. Reed Warblers are slow to arrive with just 2 captures, 1 a new bird and 1 retrap from 2014, also retrapped last May. One recent Spring, the first 10 Reed Warblers captured were all recaptures of "our birds" of previous years.

Gower Ringing Group have captured one of our 2011 Reed Warblers - though perhaps should be considered theirs....Oxwich Marsh 30th April 2016: Return of the Reed Warblers



A view from the front of Mallard pond towards net Aqua 1
.....which has of course caught Aquatic Warbler ...!!!

No chance of opening the nets this morning in a strong south westerly but weather looks better for our first CES tomorrow. 12 conservation students from Writtle College in Essex will be joining us.