Monday, 20 March 2023

Siberian Lesser Whitethroat and project updates

The Lesser Whitethroat in Wendy's garden in Llechryd for 10 days around new year has been confirmed as a Siberian Lesser Whitethroat C.c. blythi. Many thanks to Professor Martin Collinson who said that the DNA matches multiple birds from Siberia and previous blythi that they have done from Europe. 

The open wing showing the short p2 in comparison with C. c. curruca

A Chough was resighted on 14th March that has been breeding on one of our headlands for several years. It was originally ringed in the nest near Cwm Tydu in 2013

Another resighting, this time a Curlew on the Teifi Marshes photographed by Rob Cox on February 13th at the Teifi Marshes.

It was ringed as an adult female at Ynyshir on the Dyfi estuary last September.

Project Curlew.. see the poster below about colour ringing Curlew on the Teifi Marshes.

Our other long standing colour ringing project - Reed Bunting is now in the 10th year.  
Although all colour ring sightings are valuable, we are entering the key period of sightings for the BTO RAS project which runs every year from April 1st to September 30th

When we started the project in 2014 we were the only Reed Bunting RAS and colour ringing project in the UK. 

Very interesting update - we are looking at a photo of a colour-ringed female from Colin Dalton taken on Saturday, it may be of a bird from another scheme in England. 

Some recent movements of our birds...

Lesser Redpoll    AJN8242

Ringed Wintersett Reservoir, Wakefield, West Yorkshire 10/11/2020 Wintersett Ringing Group

Re-encontered  Llechryd, Ceredigion 07/03/2022 847 days 275km SW

Not a long distance mover but quite old for a Chaffinch at 8 years

Chaffinch     Z250760
Ringed    St Dogmaels, Pembs 11/02/2015
Re-encountered   St Dogmaels 19/02/2023 Taken by a cat 2930 days

The 2nd Starling this winter that was ringed in Lithuania. This one wasn't trapped but Andy managed to read the ring 

Starling      KE61617

Ringed   Silutes, Lithuania 08/08/2021

Re-encountered  Bancyffordd, Carms 01/03/2021 570 days 1718km WSW

(Richard Dobbins and Wendy James)

Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Movements, recoveries and updates.....

Some of the birds in this post have travelled many thousands of kilometres.

On the night of the 21st  January we were out on one of our long running study farms. Three of the Woodcock were caught had been ringed by us in previous years. Despite the long migrations, presumably to Russia and back they were all very close to where they were initially ringed.

EY33811 was ringed (age 5) in January 2014 so was likely to have flown over 50,000 km in its life!

10% of the Woodcock that we have ringed on the sheep pasture fields at this farm have either been caught again in subsequent years or recovered elsewhere.

Some recoveries of birds received recently

Starling KE63252

Ringed Silutes, Lithuania 09/06/2022

Re-encountered  Llechryd 16/01/2023 221 days, 1735km WSW

We have now caught several Starlings ringed in Silutes. The Ventes Ragas station where it was caught is one of the oldest in Europe. They catch a lot of Starlings, for example in the month of June that this bird was ringed they caught 24377!

The majority of Starlings we catch are first year birds but the plumage of an adult male is something to admire.

Starling neck feathers


Sedge Warbler   APR3521

Ringed   Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion 04/05/2022

Re-encountered   Donges, Loire-Atlantique, France 31/07/2022 88 days 562km SSE

Late news of a Reed Warbler to Portugal in 2019

Reed Warbler    ABB9968

Ringed Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion 07/07/2019

Re-encountered  Herdade dos Forninhos,  Beja, Portugal 21/08/2019 45 days 1626km SSW

As usual in January we put a lot of effort into looking for our colour-ringed Reed Buntings as they are more easily seen when coming to artificial food. All sightings of these birds are valuable, though currently outside the RAS season.

Blue/Metal, Lime/Orange was seen by Colin Dalton last Jan
and again this year and is a frequent visitor to the feeder

"Wilti" rides in the wet woodland part of the Teifi Marshes are up and running, 2 Willow Tits feeding nearby ...

We may develop and expand the recording site here too....the other direction. Few of the Group have visited this site which is part of the Teifi Marshes reserve.

Many thanks for the contributions made by all to the TRG agm. Great to see so many of the group being able to meet to talk, exchange and expand ideas. We are thinking of holding a late summer 'social meet up'...

(Rich D and Wendy J)

Saturday, 31 December 2022

Redwings to Europe and a winter Lesser Whitethroat

Limited ringing this December with poor weather and Avian flu considerations, but some interesting recoveries....

Subsequent encounters of our Redwings are generally from the same source as the more often discussed Woodcock, a result of  shooting.

Redwing RZ59470 ringed Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion 20/11/2021

Shot  Antas, Almeria, Spain 03/12/2022 378 days 1664 km

We have had four Redwing recoveries now.... 1 shot in Italy, 1 shot in France, 1 hit a window in Devon

Details of some other controls and recoveries received recently.....

Storm Petrel   2720373

Ringed Mwnt, Ceredigion 12/07/2022

Re-encountered  Bardsey Island, Gwynedd 21/07/2022 9 days 72km N

Chiffchaff     NCC332

Ringed Cors Caron, Ceredigion 03/09/2022

Re-encountered Titchfield Haven, Hants   11/10/2022 38 days 245km SE Titchfield Haven RG

Lesser Redpoll  ACT6521

Ringed  Ruspidge, Forest of Dean, Gloucs 14/10/2021

Re-encountered  Ty Rhyg plantation, Pembs 01/10/2022 413 days 160km W

Lesser Redpoll   AJN6206

Ringed  Blaenduad, Carms 12/10/2020

Re-encountered   Hut Wood, Hants   29/10/2022 777 days 233km ESE

On the 29th December a Lesser Whitethroat was watched feeding on sunflower hearts in Wendy's Llechryd garden.

Features and biometrics suggest that it is likely of the Siberian blythi race

More on this bird in a following blog..

In case you missed the last two blogs they are well worth a read
Andy wrote a detailed blog about his work looking at site faithfulness of garden Starlings

Alison wrote about her fourth visit to Gibraltar ringing at the Straits of Gibraltar Bird Observatory. Over 3,000 birds were caught and processed during her time there, almost 70% of those were Blackcaps.

Blue Rock Thrush

The Teifi Ringing Group AGM will be held at The Grosvenor, in Cardigan on Thurs 26th Jan at 7pm. Meet earlier to say hello and catch up with other ringers you don't regularly meet..

(Wendy J and Rich D)

Sunday, 18 December 2022

Starlings - tricky blighters to re-catch?

Since moving to Carmarthenshire in late 2017 and through until the end of March 2022, 1814 Starlings have been ringed in our garden just south of Llandysul. Birds have been processed between the months of October to March each winter with the highest winter period total being 569. Very few birds are seen in the area (home +5km radius) during the summer months but small numbers are known to successfully rear young most years although these local breeders and offspring seldom visit the garden in the months from April to September. The main purpose behind ‘a push’ on ringing the Starlings was to try to establish to what degree birds were returning each winter given their virtual absence during the breeding season. Mist netting produced many of the initial bird captures but with the tendency of Starlings to alarm call during extraction, this method of catching was not considered to be ideal if reasonable numbers were to be ringed. A manually operated drop trap was put into service and was very productive but this method is time absorbing and new birds cannot easily be caught while a catch is being processed. Walk-in traps have also been used with some success and Potter traps have also been quite productive.  

Since 2017, five birds with rings fitted elsewhere have been processed in the garden: 2 from Lithuania, 1 from Germany, 1 from Belgium and 1 from Kent, UK. Three birds ringed in the garden have been reported from elsewhere: 1 found dead in Ceredigion during the same winter period, 1 found freshly deceased in Carmarthenshire during the subsequent winter period, and one intentionally taken by a ringer in Holland 2 years after ringing. These records suggest an East/West seasonal movement of an unknown proportion of the birds encountered but there is little evidence to suggest anything further.

The number of birds re-trapped in the garden has, in my opinion, been low: 12 individuals (0.66%) have been subsequently encountered within the same winter period and an additional 6 birds (0.33%) have been subsequently encountered in winter periods that have followed original ringing dates (5 re-trapped, 1 ring read). These occurrences could make one think that there is simply a low rate of return of individual birds.

Over a period of seven consecutive days of settled weather in December 2022, I conducted a small trial in the hope that I may be able to understand a little more about the Starlings re-visiting our garden.

Day 1, 11/12/2022 – watching and taking photographs of metal rings

LR08093 sighted, ringed 25/11/2021

LC93396 sighted, ringed 12/12/2017

Day 2, 12/12/2022 – watching and taking photographs of metal rings

LR08037 sighted, ringed 18/11/2021

LL72965 sighted, ringed 03/12/2018

LR08315 sighted, ringed 02/11/2022

Day 3, 13/12/2022 – watching and taking photographs of metal rings

LL86687 sighted, ringed 23/11/2020

LL86718 sighted, ringed 30/12/2020

LL86621 sighted, ringed 26/10/2020

LR08318 sighted, ringed 02/11/2022

Day 4, 14/12/2022 - ringing using a single 3 bay potter trap

21 new starlings ringed, 0 re-traps

Day 5, 15/12/2022 - ringing using a single 3 bay potter trap

7 new starlings ringed, 0 re-traps

Day 6, 16/12/2022 – watching and taking photographs of metal rings

LR08037 sighted, already re-sighted on Day 2

LL86971 sighted, ringed 15/11/2021

LR08093 sighted, already re-sighted on Day 1

LL86526 sighted, ringed 02/03/2020

LL86961 sighted, ringed 07/11/2021

LR08365 sighted, ringed 15/12/2022

LR08351 sighted, ringed 14/12/2022

LR08340 sighted, ringed 14/12/2022

Day 7, 17/12/2022 – ringing using a three-port entrance walk-in trap

5 new starlings ringed, 2 re-trapped

LR08350, ringed 14/12/2022

LR08351, ringed 14/12/2022





One of the many partial ring reads!? Half a dozen shots taken as the birds move around often allow the ring to rotate slightly and these can be viewed together for a full ring combination. Many birds just move about too quickly and simply fly off. The general wear on the ring indicates that it hasn’t been fitted recently.



The ringing activity during this brief study brought the total number of birds ringed during the current winter period to 51.

During the small trial, fifteen individuals have been identified from metal rings of which five have been ringed in this winter period with three being re-sighted within two days of ringing. No ringed birds entered far enough into the Potter trap to trigger the door release mechanism whereas two recently ringed birds (initially caught in the Potter trap) entered the Walk-in ‘maze’ trap.

In just four days of observation (each session lasting 2-3 hours), birds have been re-sighted from each of the preceding winter periods of ringing and the 10 ring reads far outweighs the number of physical re-traps (five) that have been achieved over the entire four winter periods.

Photographing metal rings isn’t the easiest thing to do. Starlings often feed near each other with frequent movements among individuals and partial ring reads regularly occur. I am in no doubt that the number of individuals seen over the four days was greater than the number of rings read. At least one individual was carrying a continental ring.

The result of this work doesn’t help me to understand where any of these birds spend the breeding season but it does prove that a higher proportion of birds revisit our garden as part of their winter survival strategy than standard recapturing methods alone have indicated.

Although I believe Potter traps and other ground-based traps are quite successful for the ringing of new birds, I am left with little doubt that they are not an effective way of retrieving data which is of course the purpose of any mark-recapture project.

A methodology that considers more than just a single themed approach to catching is likely to be rewarded with a greater quantity of data for this intelligent and adaptable species.

Sunday, 13 November 2022

A Gibraltar trip

 In mid October I went on a ringing trip to Gibraltar for 18 days, based at the Straits of Gibraltar Bird Observatory, situated on the steep slopes of ‘the rock’. This was my fourth autumn visit, and with the coast of North Africa being visible from the obs, there is a constant reminder of why this is such a good location to monitor bird migration.

                                                  Looking across to Africa

We used up to 18 nets on a daily basis, the majority being located on the slope immediately above and below the obs building. The terrain in places is very steep with loose rock underfoot, so care is needed on the net-rounds. I wore my Garmin watch for one morning session of net rounds, which recorded a distance completed of almost five miles!

                                      The climb back up to the road from the lower net rides

There were never more than three of us staying at the obs at anytime, but on some mornings we were joined by one or two local ringers. 

In the time that I was there over 3000 birds were caught and processed, with our busiest single day being 340 birds.

Blackcap was by far the most numerous bird encountered, accounting for almost 70% of the total. We had 3 ‘controls’ of Blackcaps that had been ringed in Belgium, and 2 of Serins ringed in Spain. The amount of fat on the Blackcaps varied significantly, with the lightest Blackcap I ringed weighing just over 13 gms, and the heaviest over 27gms.

There were also good numbers of familiar birds such as Robin, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chiffchaff and Song thrush, and less familiar species such as Sardinian warbler, Serin and Black Redstart.

                                                           Black redstart

Other species ringed in my time there included Red-rumped swallow, Scops owl, Dartford warbler, Yellow-browed warbler, Bluethroat, Blue rock thrush and Red-breasted flycatcher.

                                                       Red-breasted flycatcher
                                                        Blue rock thrush
                                                        Dartford warbler
                                                        Yellow-browed warbler
                                                       Scops owl

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to help catch and ring Crag martins at a cave roost, and the experience of sitting near the cave entrance with Crag martins flying above and all around on their way into the roost will stay in my memory for a long time.

                                               Setting nets for the Crag Martin roost

In total, I ringed over a thousand birds of 26 species, and it was a busy but very enjoyable trip.

My thanks to Ian Lees ( ringer in charge) and fellow ringers Matt, Peter, Charlie and Jill.

Further information about birds and ringing in Gibraltar can be found on the website of the Gibraltar Ornithological and Natural History Society -

                                                         Bird bag laundry day

Sunday, 2 October 2022

October brings Firecrest and Redwing

A look back at September follows below, as October starts with a Firecrest and the first Redwing of the autumn.


This Firecrest was  ringed on the Teifi Marshes at our Pembrokeshire site near the river viewpoint. Earlier in the morning we had caught the first Redwing adding to the autumnal mix of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs.


Three new Cetti's Warblers added to the four ringed last month. 

On the 21st September a Cetti's Warbler was caught that had been ringed at Penclacwydd, the Llanelli Wetland Centre, during a Gower Ringing Group CES session. This illustrates the juvenile dispersal that takes place after fledging.

Cetti's Warbler     AJT2276 

Ringed Penclacwydd, Carmarthenshire  20/06/2022 Gower Ringing Group

Re-encountered Teifi Marshes   21/09/2022   93 days 60km NW.

The table shows the September totals and reflects how our ringing moves from the reedbeds and into the scrub.

September totals

Of note in the September totals are the good number of Linnets being ringed at a potential new site for a Linnet RAS.

Andy has written a summary of his House Sparrow RAS for 2022

Nest records for the Group are now complete. 110 nests of various species including Dipper, Pied Flycatcher, Swallows and House Sparrows.

Some controls and recoveries received this month...

Lesser Redpoll    AKN4986

Ringed  Whixall & Fenn's Mosses, Shrops 07/10/2020 Shropshire Ringing Group

Re-encountered Cors Caron, Ceredigion 03/09/2022 696 days 109km SW

Reed Warbler     APR3800

Ringed  Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion 29/07/2022

Re-encountered Litlington, East Sussex 26/08/2022 28 days 363km ESE Cuckmere Ringing Group

Chiffchaff    LTC041

Ringed  Cors Caron, Ceredigion 29/06/2022

Re-encountered Rhostryfan, Caernarfon 02/09/2022 65 days 97 km NNW A Stratford

(Wendy J and Rich D)

Sunday, 4 September 2022

House Sparrow RAS summary 2022

RAS 484 for the House Sparrow in Bancyffordd continued through the 2022 season with 137 adults recorded between the 1st of April and the 31st of August.

107 of the adult birds were either sightings of colour ringed individuals or recaptures of birds carrying a metal ring. 30 new birds were encountered.

17 males within the 107 were known to be offspring from the 2021 breeding along with 22 females. 10 males and 3 females were known to be from the 2020 breeding season. Far less ringing was conducted in previous breeding seasons and so just a single known age female from 2019 and a single male from 2018 were amongst the total.   

12 previously metal ringed individuals (6 males and 6 females) were recaptured and fitted with colour rings with male VZ70863 being the oldest (ringed as a 2 on the 1st of December 2017). 1 male was a known juvenile from 2018 and a further 7 birds (3m,4f) were known juveniles from 2020.

The number of known age ‘first year’ birds (including nestlings) ringed in 2020 was 367 and in 2021 it was 371. So far in 2022 the total is 292 (not including nestlings); this lower figure is partly due to no nestling ringing but in the main thought to be because of the number of bright sunny days in July and August when mist netting was considered unproductive. Casual observations suggest that there is no obvious reduction in the number of juveniles in the village this year so hopefully September will be productive.  

To summarise, for the adults recorded in 2022, 39 individuals were known to have come from the 2021 breeding season and 20 individuals were known to have come from the 2020 breeding season which represent 28.5% and 14.6% of the total respectively.  

The split of the entire adult population recorded was 76 males and 61 females. It is quite possible that not all birds were paired however it would be safe to assume that somewhere in the region of 60-75 pairs bred in the vicinity but how far breeding birds venture to find food during the breeding season is unknown from this study.

A single deceased individual was reported at a farm near Pencader approximately 5km SE of the ringing site.

Adult male House Sparrow in post breeding moult courtesy of “Moglet MacMillan”.