Sunday, 25 January 2015

Wandering colour ringed Reed Bunting

Our Reed Bunting colour ringing project stepped up a gear today.
While following a large flock of Golden Plover and Lapwings over fields on the north side of the Teifi estuary we ventured along a bridleway near Cardigan golf course, rarely visited. The familiar sound of a Reed Bunting was heard from a hedge along a  turnip field. It was quite a surprise to see that it was a bird with colour rings.
It was a female that we had colour ringed last May at the first CES of the year on the Teifi Marsh.
A movement of 4km to good arable fields where Skylark were feeding too.
We spotted a flock of Reed Buntings a few weeks ago on the new South Ceredigion section of the coast path across Cardigan Island farm park. We need to increase our farmland wanderings to see if we can locate some more.

The regular photographers on the reserve are already sighting birds for us. Thanks to Colin Dalton for this one spotted near the main car park for the Wildlife Centre.

If you are lucky enough to spot one of our birds please send details via the contact form on this blog.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Siskins..wintering, migrants, breeders and RAS?

"Our" Siskins are returning ....
Two Siskins in Wendy's garden today and reports of singles in other gardens in the north of the county marking the hopeful return of Siskins in numbers.

We  ringed 243 Siskins in 2014, following 406 in 2013, making a total of 821 since 2009.
With 299 re-encounters too we have a good base to start...
Siskins leave us in July / August and appear not to return until January, so where do they go..

The map shows movements of some distance, with birds moving to Scotland and North Wales to breed. The Belgian ringed bird and the bird from Surrey, may be wintering with us or passing through. We have two main ringing sites for Siskins. The yellow lines on the map are movements to / from Wendy's and the red lines are to / from mine.

We catch our largest number in February and March, which are presumably migrants or returning local breeding birds. We also have a smaller peak in June and July with a high proportion of juveniles presumably from a very local population, and as mentioned above, all these birds whether local breeders or post breeding passage birds disappear in July and August, to moult and migrate ?

Juvenile Siskin from last May..

A real fascination is the interchange between the two sites, Boncath and Llechryd, 6km apart. We have more than 20 birds that have moved between the two sites, mainly during the winter period but also during the summer including one 3J juvenile visiting both sites over two days in July. One female managed to find another member of the ringing group's garden - 7km away in St Dogmaels one day after being ringed last February !
Another nice control is of a breeding female in July 2013 ringed in Ty rhyg plantation being controlled at my Boncath site in July 2014.
My Boncath site has only been running for two years, and excluding the controls from Wendy's site 6 km away, during the two month period 31st May - 31st July 19 adults were recaptured from the previous year. These numbers do appear to be in line for the start of a nice Retrap Adult for Survival  project on the Siskin in West Wales.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Midnight Meanderings.....for Woodcock !!

Unlike our mid-Wales lamping colleagues we are rarely out past midnight !!
A night off tonight due to the weather, below how our fields looked towards the summit of Frenni this afternoon...

With the moon waning we have at last been out with the lamp for the last few nights. Only seven Woodcock caught so far. Disappointing, though we think that our current wintering numbers may be low....
Fieldfares are being encountered in greater than usual numbers ...
Meadow Pipits have provided great interest with our second retrap !

D615995 was ringed on the 25th January 2014, and we re- encountered it on the 9th January 2015.
The wintering environment is hostile up here, and birds must move in periods of ice and snow, so quite amazing to find a site faithful bird re-wintering up here. The Migration Atlas and Bird Atlas suggest that being faithful to a wintering site is expected for Meadow Pipits. Though not far from the coast, wintering at this altitude on grazed upland pastures seems a less favourable strategy....but obviously successful for this bird !!

Last year we re-encountered a Meadow Pipit  on the 21st of March having been ringed on the 24th December, almost three months later in the same fields as the above bird. I discussed at the time may be a returning migrant....perhaps not.

Skylarks are found here too in small numbers,

In my wandering reading this evening  I came across a record of Woodlark in December 1981 in these hills.  We will continue with our (pre-) Midnight Meanderings...

See Ruffled Feathers for more on the all night activities...of Mid-Wales Ringers

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

2014....what a year !

Our best year to date with 30 controls and 20 recoveries...
All 2014 ringing data for Teifi RG is now entered in IPMR, our totals of 6831 birds processed.....
 ..and 5323 new !!

Species totals for the year are listed in full on the right hand side of the blog - 2014 Totals
Sedge Warbler is top again with 708 processed.....571 new.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Jack Snipe starts the year..

This Jack Snipe was ringed on the Teifi Marsh at dusk today.
During our efforts to find more about birds using the Ceredigion side of the Teifi Marsh reserve in winter we have often flushed a few Jack Snipe in a marshy area near our nets. We have only caught three previously and those have been in April/May soon after the commercial cut of an area of the reed bed is done. Now we know that they are on the reserve earlier in the winter we can concentrate our efforts at this time of year.
All the information we gather is fed back to The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales to help them plan habitat management for these secretive birds.
We saw about another six Jack Snipe today so would like to think we can ring those too before the winter is out.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Success with stormies....but are they ours ?

Storm Petrels have been caught by the Teifi Ringing Group during the summer months over the last four years. Our totals may seem small but our efforts are directed to other breeding and migration activities during the season and we do help ring stormies in south-west Pembs.
Enough of excuses and let us look at our amazing results and our way forward....

We started catching Storm Petrels at the established site of Strumble Head, where for over thirty plus years stormies have been caught, mainly on visits by Ian Spence. To date we have caught 36 birds at Strumble, with our birds controlled on nearby Skokholm, Sanda in the Inner Hebrides and an amazing control of one of our own birds from our new site at Mwnt in Ceredigion.

As the map shows Mwnt in Ceredigion is along the coast of Cardigan Bay and is 40km from Strumble Head

The headland at Mwnt is used for sea-watching and for some migration studies - mainly Greenland Wheatears.
On the 13th July 2012 we attempted our first catch at the site.
Three birds were caught, two new and to our delight a control ! We now know the bird was ringed on 11th August 2011 - Deep Point, Isles of Scilly.
These birds were the first captured, ringed and controlled for the county of Ceredigion !!

To date we have encountered 44 stormies at Mwnt delivering some amazing movements-

The RSPB island reserve of Ramsey, Pembs is now rat free and they have a new (since 2008) small colony of c10-15 pairs on on the west coast. On the east coast of the island they have managed to attract and ring six likely non-breeders. A bird they ringed last year on 6th August 2013, we controlled this 1st July 2014.  One out of six isn't bad....

More local !
A bird we ringed at Mwnt on the 13th July 2012 we controlled ourselves at Strumble Head 368 days later on 19th July 2013.
...More local still !!.......we recaptured our own bird at Mwnt almost exactly one year later, ringed 5th July 2013 and retrapped on 1st July 2014.
Site faithfulness is of  course expected, but WE don't have a breeding population. The nearest  breeding birds are to the southwest on the Pembrokeshire Islands, and to the north a smaller number on Bardsey.

 2661480 our favourite to date and perhaps exemplifies the faithful wanderings within the Irish Sea.
Ringed at Mwnt on the 22nd July 2012...
Controlled on the Calf of Man on the 26th June 2014...
Controlled on the Ceredigion coast near Aberystwyth a month later on the 28th July 2014....
(A first encounter of the species in Ceredigion for Tony Cross !!)

To round off  "OUR" curent Cardigan Bay movements, a bird ringed on the Lleyn Peninsula on the 27th July 2013 was controlled by us at Mwnt on 1st July 2014.

The photo above shows the usual net in position at Mwnt on the northwest facing slope of the headland, with Cardigan Island in the background. The island has been rat free since 1970.
We are trying different and additional net positions at Mwnt and will visit Strumble Head in 2015. Hopefully our effort in Cardigan Bay will complement the ringing of Storm Petrels on the islands and shed more light on the summer wanderings of

Hopefully we will be out for stormies on the 3rd July....31 years since I first ringed a Storm Petrel.
No surprises..... that was with Steve Sutcliffe down on the Deer Park opposite Skomer, and I guess we will be down there again this season.......

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Site faithful Woodcock returns

Out last night on Y Frenni we caught the first retrap Woodcock of the winter.
It was in the same field, just 260 metres away from where it was ringed on January 30th this year. (yellow line on the map) Although we know how site faithful they are on their wintering grounds it is always humbling to think of the huge distance that the bird has flown since last seen.
The route on the map shows a fairly typical night out with the lamp - 4 kilometres and 168 metres of ascent on improved sheep pasture.Batteries dying are the only reason for stopping so with a new torch on the Christmas wish list, the route will hopefully be longer in the new year!
Location of the three new Woodcock ringed were logged when they were caught then ring numbers added to Google Earth once the night's track is uploaded.This adds to our database of ringing location at each site, building up a picture of distribution and density.

Another of our Woodcock ringed in Crymych won't be returning this year. News this week from the BTO that one ringed on 22nd January this year was shot near Lostwithiel in Cornwall on 28th November.