Monday, 14 August 2017

CES 11 and group activities from marsh to moor

CES 11 was completed on Sunday with a very autumnal feeling start to the day. Thick mist, glistening cobwebs and many Blackberries ready. It felt a quiet day with just 51 birds (36 new) but on checking previous years it was in fact average, the average over 7 years being 48.
Species highlights were 8 Blackcaps, a Garden Warbler, Common Whitethroat and a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker.
Only 7 Great Spotted Woodpeckers have been caught at CES and this was the first since 2013

With more woodland nearby, our other sites do better and the group have ringed 96 since 2009.

What has become apparent at our CES site this year is the large number of Blackbirds being caught. A total of 73 so far this year at CES with one session still to go, more than double any year previously. Historically the annual totals from 2009 on have been  34, 30, 28, 17, 17, 21, 25, with only 7 last year. We are wondering if others have noticed the same trend.

At the same time as CES, the group ran 3 other sites including Goodwick Moor where Karen had her highest total of birds since starting to ring there this year. 41 birds of 10 species including 4 juvenile Cetti's Warblers and 13 Sedge Warblers. We have recently been sent some historic ringing data from by Ian Spence when he used to ring there in the late 70's early 80's. It is going to be interesting to see the difference in species in over 30 years. Many thanks Ian.

Other ringing since the last blog has been mainly in the reed bed on the Teifi Marsh targeting migrant acros on their way South. One unusual species this week was a juvenile Moorhen, the first since this adult in 2011.

A Swallow roost one evening enabled a potential new trainee to experience the marsh at its best with the sun setting over Mallard pond as a couple of hundred Swallows fly low overhead before roosting.

Charlie Sargent has been ringing a wide variety of species on his moorland site, Fygyn Common, in Carmarthenshire. Trainees have gained experience of species that we struggle to catch on the Teifi Marsh like Tree Pipit and Willow Tit. A blog from Charlie soon about his activities.

Speedy news from the BTO of a control and recovery of birds only caught in the last week.
The first is an example of movement in Juvenile Reed and Sedge Warblers that we often see. Young birds head in a different direction to what might be expected before starting their migration south to wintering grounds.
Sedge Warbler X730320 was ringed in Dorset at Squires Down on 5th August 2017.  5 days and 200km later it was caught on the Teifi Marsh on 10th August.

Adult Sedge Warbler S160811 ringed by us on 30th April 2016 on the Teifi Marsh was caught at Oxwich Marsh by Gower Ringing Group on 13th August. 470 days 65km

Friday, 4 August 2017

Faithful to the Irish Sea - a stormie

We wrote on  the 12th July 2012...

Mwnt is now established as our migration ringing site for  Northern and "Greenland" Wheatears, but last night the target was Storm Petrels to start providing more information about the birds in this part of the Irish Sea. It would be interesting to establish if these are passage birds, or are they on feeding trips from their breeding colonies on the Pembrokeshire Islands.

Well, we are no further in answering the question...

Caught in the first month of Storm Petrel ringing at Mwnt one of our birds shows interesting movements around the Irish Sea. A likely faithfulness to this area of sea......and surely could be a breeding bird by 2017.

If a breeding bird on feeding trips, where is it from....
Here is an up to date summary provided by staff as appropriate to each "local" colony. (exc Eire)
The figures are for AOS - adults on site.

Pembrokeshire colonies;-
Skokholm 2000+  - the largest colony.
Skomer 220
Bishops and Clerks...163

Bardsey .....175 pairs
IOM ....20 pairs - ? (not from island staff)

We have captured 38 new Stormies this year, and with 2 retraps we hope to add to the picture..
Tracking of birds would assist, and we are aware of the difficulties in tracking Storm Petrels.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Acros in the Autumn.....and a juvenile Water Rail at CES

Last week on Wednesday and Thursday we took advantage of a couple of promising windows in the weather to ring at our Mallard site where we specialise in the study of  passage Sedge and Reed Warblers. A promising start to our season with c 40 Acros caught and we plan to ring at this site in the coming days.
Below a view from the end of Aqua 1 net ride across Mallard Pond towards the new hide.

This map shows our Sedge Warbler controls and recoveries, with a great proportion of movements along the  French Atlantic coast.

LATEST NEWS  - a first recovery for Goodwick Moor, a new site for us that Karen is developing.
A Sedge Warbler caught on the 23rd April 2017 had been ringed the previous August in Finistere, NW France.  We have had several birds move between the Teifi and the Trunvel, Treogat site.

We are likely to be catching a mix of local and early migrants in these mid July sessions, but they also help our RAS studies on both Reed Warblers and Reed Bunting, we colour ring the latter species too.

A reminder to look out for colour ringed birds.

The  highlight so far  - a couple of juvenile Grasshopper Warblers, we catch a few during late July.

During calm evenings we have managed a couple of Swallow roosts, here is Tristian a new trainee enjoying some processing of Swallows.

We managed CES 9 on Monday and perhaps a little quiet but we did process 46 new 22 recaptures, including this  juvenile Water Rail, our 4th capture on the marsh and our 2nd at the CES site. The 1st back in early August 2009.

We have great hopes for the week ahead in terms of our activities, we could do with the weather being a little more helpful. Several sessions for Acros, a final sesssion for the Linnet RAS project and CES likely next weekend.

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