Thursday 30 August 2018

3 Jays for the final CES of 2018....

Another CES (Constant Effort Scheme) season is over. All 12 sessions were completed with good numbers of the group available for each one.  Some new trainees this year, helpers and lots of visitors too stopping off to see us at work by the river viewpoint on the Teifi Marsh.
The last session on Tuesday will be remembered for the unusual catch of 3 Jays. Two juveniles

and an adult female still with a brood patch and just starting wing moult

A Kingfisher started the day well. Other species were predictable with Reed Warblers, Dunnocks, Wrens and Blue Tits keeping us busy. Blackcap numbers are starting to increase. Many were in the middle of post juvenile moult with the black crowns of the males starting to grow.

The morning ended with a total of 87 birds - 72 new and 15 retraps.
After all 12 sessions the total for CES this year is 763 with 519 new and 244 retrap.
The most frequently caught species were the following..

Less than 5 of each were Lesser Whitethroat 4, Common Redstart 4, Reed Bunting 4, Jay 3, Long-tailed Tit  3, Kingfisher 2, Common Whitethroat 2, Lesser Redpoll 1, House Sparrow 1,
Not all of the birds breed on the CES site. In particular, Sedge Warbler numbers are boosted by migrants in late Spring. This is reflected in the fact that we catch large numbers in the first 2 CES sessions then very few during peak breeding season until autumn migration starts.
The oldest bird retrapped was a Reed Warbler ringed as an adult in July 2012 and caught each year at CES since then.
The total lack of Cetti's Warblers is a big concern. Not one was caught or heard since the cold spell this Spring. The number of Blackbirds was markedly down. Last year we ringed 75, just 16 this year.

It felt at the time that the sessions this year had been quieter than average but on looking back at recent years the graph clearly shows that apart from the bumper year of 2011 totals were much the same as recent years.

Our data will be added to that of the other 140 CES sites around the country.  Analysis of the data for the 24 species studied provides valuable trend information on abundance of adults and juveniles, productivity and adult survival rate. We will post the link when the BTO publishes the results.

CES results are combined with other BTO surveys to produce the annual Bird Trends report. It is a useful and interesting resource to refer to and good to know that our work on the Teifi Marsh contributes to this.
BTO Bird Trends 2017

Thanks once again to the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales for their continuing permission to ring on the Teifi Marshes Reserve and for their much appreciated support for our work.

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Sedge Warblers from Dorset..

News from the BTO about where our two recent Sedge Warbler controls were ringed, both in Dorset moving NW to the Teifi Marsh.

AJB1444 was ringed at Ballard Down in Dorset by Stour Ringing Group on the 9th August and caught  on the Teifi Marsh on the 13th August, 4 days later 248km NW.
AAB3332 was ringed At Abbotsbury Swannery on the 5th August and caught on the Teifi Marsh on the 8th August, 3 days later 214 km NW.

Although it would seem that these are heading in the wrong direction for migration to Africa this example of juvenile dispersal is well documented and the subject of much research. It is thought to be important in searching for future breeding grounds and for locating suitable pre-migration feeding areas.

We are still ringing a good number of Sedge Warblers on the Teifi Marsh as migration continues. 224 so far this month along with 93 Reed Warblers. Unfortunately wind has been slowing our mist netting down so in a brisk South Westerly on Sunday we took the spring traps along to one of our coastal sites to catch Rock Pipits. This gave one of our trainees the chance to learn about another species as well as becoming familiar with a different trapping technique.
We usually catch Rock Pipits a bit later in the autumn when numbers are boosted by migrants. This bird was a resident adult that was still undergoing post-breeding moult.

It is unusual for us to see Rock Pipits in moult so a plan for next year is to start earlier in the year to learn more about our resident population. The unmoulted brown secondaries can be seen in the photo.

Other activities since the last blog have included continuing Whoosh netting Linnets at Mwnt for our RAS project, ringing at three sites on the Teifi Marsh, Charlie is still busy at Fygyn Common and we did a Swallow roost catch one evening. We were again joined by Lucy, an 8 year old and her mother, Lucy continues to amaze us with her knowledge of birds.
The wrong tide height and other commitments have reduced the number of possible days for lamping waders on the beach this August. One short visit to Poppit beach was successful though with a Ringed Plover and 5 Dunlin ringed.

CES 11 was done last Friday. An average catch for the time of year of 78 birds but boosted by 19 Blue Tits! An increasing number of Blackcaps and an adult Garden Warbler and 2 juveniles was typical for mid August. We still haven't caught or heard any Cetti's Warblers since the cold spell this Spring. It will be interesting to see how numbers are looking in other parts of the country.

Friday 17 August 2018

Juveniles and Autumn migration.

I always get excited this time of year. August through to the end of September you can experience lots of birds on passage, also the anticipation of something different or even a new species is always at the back of your mind. Here we are already half way through the month!

For me at Fygyn Common and Ffynnon Gro like everywhere else there are lots of juveniles being caught. From the birds processed in the table below this month, 18% were adults an 82% juveniles. 

The first week in August the weather forecasters were suggesting the heat wave was over and the second week here we are again awash with rain and wind, albeit the rain has been great for the garden. It has made it difficult to get out, many of the sessions have been organised at the last minute to take advantage of a break in the weather.

Fygyn Common and Fynnon Gro - August 2018

49      +        5
72      +       5
Lesser Redpoll
Great Tit
5        +        2
12     +     2
17      +       4

14      +        2

14       +      2
7        +        2
9       +     1
16       +      3
Blue Tit
4        +        7
10       +      7
Willow Warbler
12      +        1
13       +      1
61      +        1

 61      +      1


Great Spotted Woodpecker

15       +     14
23     +     8
38       +     22

Willow Tit

Grasshopper Warbler



Marsh Tit

Tawny Owl

Sedge Warbler

                              Total                                      207 + 35             85 + 13            292 + 48

                      Grand Total                                       242                    98                     340

Highlights first two weeks in August
  • Every year I seem to get one Redstart as is the case again this August. It was a juvenile just starting its post juvenile moult.
  • I was pleased to have caight 77 Chaffinch during the period. Many were in post juvenile moult and some could be sexed as males because the reddish plumage was begining to appear.
  • 6 Whitethroat this month bringing the Fygyn Common total to 13 this year.
  • 3 Grasshopper Warbler this month bringing the Fygyn Common total to 6 this year.
  • Willow Tit and the Jay were new species for Alison Rees one of our trainees. She joined me earlier in the month and we caught and she processed 76 birds many of the adults were in main moult so we were able to get some practice doing moult scores.
All the bird pictures below are this years juveniles.

The change in weather caused a blanket of mist/fog to hang over the common on two occasions. When the sun rises it eventually breaks through and the mist/fog clears. It does create a slow start in the morning but noticable the birds quickly appear in the nets in the improved conditions.

Doing reasonable well with Whitethroat this year all birds being juveniles on passage. Noticable after a nights bad weather many warblers drop in overnight.

Grasshopper Warblers have been reasonable scarce and numbers including the 3 caught this month brings the total to 6 compared with 12 in 2017 over the same time period. Again all birds were juveniles.

In August, 61 Swallows were caught and the total for the year is currently at 166. After every session we have tried to catch Nightjar and were lucky to have caught two males. One was a new bird and the second was a recovery and hope to get the recovery report soon. These were the first for the site

I don't know how other sites are doing but Willow Warbler numbers are really down this year, all birds being juveniles.

Juvenile Bullfinch.

Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker, the second bird for Alison since she started ringing at the beginning of the year. The full red cap makes this a juvenile.

Whilst Redpolls haven't been as common as last year the number of juvenile Redpoll have increased.

This Sedge Warbler caught only a few days ago was the first this year. As the one caught last year it was probably on passage and had dropped in over night.

One of the Redpolls I caught on the 14th Aug had a ring on it S994687 belonging to some one else, a bird not ringed by the Teifi Ringing Group. On the 15th Aug I received the ringing recovery report from the BTO. The bird was ringed at a site called Crabtree Hill, Gloucestershire as a juvenile 318 days ago on 30/09/2017. When caught at Fygyn Common it was a female having bred this summer, the Brood Patch was wrinkled and soon would be feathering over again. it was also in main moult.

We have had some really good weather this year and many birds have had more than one brood and juvenile bird numbers seem to have increased, especially Chaffinch which are doing really well. Goldfinch on the other hand were good in the spring but numbers have plumeted since.
No sign of Tree Pipit this year and Stonechat are about in small numbers.

Thanks to Alison Rees, Andrew Hughes, Dawn Jay and Karen Meatyard for their help recently.

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Stormie wanderings & ringers travels

We completed CES 10 on the Teifi Marsh today. It was again quiet with just 69 birds of which 47 were new. The highlights were this adult male Lesser Redpoll, a Lessser Whitethroat and a juvenile Sedge Warbler that had been ringed somewhere else.

In the last blog we were waiting for details of a juvenile Reed Warbler that was already wearing a ring. The ringing details were back from the BTO the next day.

It was ringed at Oxwich Marsh by Gower ringing group on the 14th July and had travelled 67km NNW to the Teifi Marsh.

Last weekend two of the group were on Skokholm Island to assist with Storm Petrel ringing. On the first night 122 Storm Petrels were handled under an amazing star filled sky with Mars so bright that it cast its reflection on the sea. The second night was quieter with 89 birds but surprisingly two were birds that we had previously caught. One I had ringed myself at Strumble Head in 2012 and another had been ringed at The Lizard in 2015 and then caught by the group at Mwnt a month later.
See our blog at that time "Stormies - simultaneous sites at Mwnt" 

Whilst on Skokholm we experienced the first fall of autumn with 89 Willow Warblers ringed.

First morning off the island and back in the reed bed at Mallard hide we had the first big day of Sedge Warbler migration with 41 ringed in a short session. These short Mallard session will be continuing every day that weather permits to monitor migration through the reed bed. We are always hopeful of an Aquatic Warbler again. The last two were the 16th and 18th August 2010. Reports from Acrola, the organisation that monitors Aquatic Warbler migration has reported that their migration is exceptionally early this year. The site at Donges, where incidentally we have had several of our Sedge Warblers caught, has ringed 70 Aquatic Warblers in the last 16 days. 

In a previous blog we had included contributions from group members about their recent experiences with the group. Tristan's notes have just arrived from Romania where he is volunteering with WWF for a project that is reintroducing Bison.
"Two years ago, I was looking for experience in wildlife conservation and quite by accident began bird ringing in and around the Teifi marshes. In this time, I have grown from  having very little knowledge of birds to learning both about their behaviours and how we can better protect them.
Special moments for me include one of my first experiences at a swallow roost, when the tapes lured in almost 200 birds, and with strong teamwork,  the evening flew by until all were ringed.

I will also always remember my luck in being at Mallard when a Bluethroat was caught and admiring this rare visitor I hadn’t previously known.
Most recently, it was fantastic to have my first experience ringing Storm Petrels at Mwnt and I, like the other trainees, was surprised at their small size and fascinating tube noses: micro-desalination-plants! It is so remarkable to think that soon they will be returning some 8000 miles to South Africa and highlights for me how many unlocked mysteries still abound in nature. Throughout my time ringing, everyone has been so warm and welcoming in sharing opportunities, their expertise and stories, from experiencing whoosh netting to learning more about bird ringing in Costa Rica and  Uganda. This makes me very happy and I am looking forward to continuing when I return home to Cardigan."
The photos show where I'm staying in Romania; it's an old farmhouse and is so nice.

Today we were told the plan for our time in more detail and it is very interesting with some travel across Romania and perhaps into Poland to see the bison there too.."

 More from other members of the group in future blogs.

Wednesday 1 August 2018

Woodcock to Russia and other Teifi news

Woodcock EY33816 was ringed near Crymych on sheep pasture at one of our sites where we monitor wintering Woodcook on 22nd January 2014. News from the BTO this week that it had been shot in Russia in Myshinsky District north of Moscow in the Russian Federation.

This is a distance of 2824 km but in its life it had probably flown ten times that with its return migrations each year assuming it went back to the same place to breed.
We had caught it twice in 2014 and the ringing location was recorded by GPS as for all of our Woodcock captures.

This shows a typical large improved field which Woodcock seem to favour for roosting over the smaller, rougher fields around.

Other movements of birds that we have been notified of recently include a Lesser Redpoll that Charlie caught at Fygyn Common near Llanfynydd on 14th July 2018 that had been ringed at Walton in Gordano, North Somerset by Gordano Valley Ringing Group on 29th October 2017. 258 days 105 km
Also a Siskin caught at Llanfynydd on 13th July 2018 had been ringed by Gower Ringing Group at Oxwich Marsh, Swansea on 23rd May 2015. 1147 days 41km.

CES 9 was completed on Tuesday. It was fairly quiet with just 62 birds. Of the 38 new birds 11 were Wrens!  Some more Reed Warblers ringed in previous years were caught including one ringed in 2013 and only seen once since in 2015. It was good to have a visiting trainee with us while she is on holiday in the area. She will also gain experience with Whoosh netting as she will be out with Chris and one of our trainees at Mwnt to catch birds for our Linnet RAS. We were also joined by an enthusiastic and knowledgeable 8 year old with her Dad. She says that she wants to come ringing every day! It was refreshing to see a youngster with such a passion for wildlife.

Migrants over at our Mallard reed bed site on the Ceredigion side of the marsh have been increasing this week with 25 Sedge Warblers ringed in just an hour on Monday morning.

The total of new birds ringed at Mallard in July was 416

These were
Sedge Warblers 118
Reed Warbler 87
Reed Bunting  25
Swallows 169
Sand Martins 4
Other species included Wrens, Blackcaps, Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Goldfinches and Willow Warblers.

August started well with a control juvenile Reed Warbler at Mallard this morning. It was ringed at Oxwich Marsh by Gower Ringing Group on the 14th July. Birds are on the move...