Wednesday 29 December 2021

December on hills and in gardens

As December draws to a close with a spell of wet and windy weather offering few opportunities for ringing, we look back at the last few weeks.

The third most frequently encountered species was Woodcock. No surprise as lamping them at night is possible in windy weather. Arfon has been busy on his local upland sites near Ffarmers including 6 birds ringed in previous years. Woodcock are very faithful to their wintering sites as this example on a farm near Boncath shows.

EZ73664 was ringed there on 14th November 2020 and we re-encountered it this year on the 2nd December very close to its original ringing location. Every time a Woodcock is caught we record the GPS and plot them on Google Earth

To give an example of the scale of our historic data these are the Woodcock caught over the last 10 years in just 6 fields

Other species ringed at night this month included Snipe, Jack Snipe, Fieldfare, Golden Plover, Skylark, Redwing and Meadow Pipit. We plan to introduce our new trainees to lamping over the next few weeks.

Starlings were the most frequently ringed species, nearly all caught in various traps rather than mist nets. The one subsequent encounter listed below was a bird with a Belgian ring in Andy's garden. We are still waiting for details from the Belgian ringing scheme.

December 2021 totals in gardens, farms and Teifi Marshes

Three of the group have recently bought these walk in traps from Jed Andrews, South West Norfolk Ringing Group. Pictured here as we all excitedly un packed the trap when it was delivered during a ringing session.

Thanks to Jed for designing and supplying these. Although currently being used in gardens we plan to use them for a wider range of species soon.

Looking at the table of captures it can be seen that there is a high proportion of subsequent encounters. Most of the Reed Buntings and many of the House Sparrows are re-sightings of colour ringed birds showing the importance of this work. We are grateful to the valuable re-sightings by photographers on the Teifi Marshes and would like to thank Colin Dalton and Tommy Evans in particular

Colour-ringed Reed Buntings, Colin Dalton

News received this month of a Sedge Warbler from the Teifi Marshes on its autumn migration. We have many such movements but this one is further south than most.

Sedge Warbler ARP9540

Ringed Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion 12/08/2021

Subsequent encounter Audenge, Gironde, France 27/08/2021 15 days 865 km SSE

We will be posting year end totals and a summary in mid January.

Wendy J and Rich D

Thursday 2 December 2021

Warblers and variety in November

November started with a good session at our site in the Pentood part of the Teifi Marshes with a very late Reed Warbler and unusually for the site, 2 Stonechat.

On the 10th, a Siberian Chiffchaff was ringed in Pentood, to be followed by 3 further birds on the 16th and 17th at our River View Point site on the Teifi Marshes.

Siberian Chiffchaff

A look back into the Group's history and our first and only previous Siberian Chiffchaff on 15th October 2015   "An interesting Chiffchaff"

Our catching of Siberian (tristis) Chiffchaffs is part of a widespread arrival across the southwest this autumn - we have caught  10 collybita  and 4 fulvescens type Chiffchaffs this month too.

Recent news of Chiffchaff  KCC988 ...

Ringed Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion 09/08/2021

Subsequent encounter Skokholm Island 20/09/2021 42 days 61km SW

On the 5th November this Sparrowhawk and two Kingfishers amongst the 77 Redwings caught.


By the end of the month 260 Redwings had been ringed, mainly on the Teifi Marshes but also in a young woodland in Llechryd.

A good number of Crests have been ringed this month, 58 Goldcrests and 1 Firecrest on the 17th.


The Group have captured 25 Firecrests in the last 10 years including one from Belgium, 16 of them in November.

But where are our Firecrests and Yellow-browed Warblers this year ?? Perhaps December will provide some late season birds.....

Starlings have been seen in increasing numbers over the last few weeks

241 ringed, mainly by Andy near Llandysul. One Starling that Andy has caught twice this month in his garden had been ringed in Lithuania.

Starling KE14864  

Ringed by the Lithuanian Ringing Centre at Silutes, Lithuania 16/06/2020

Subsequent encounter Bancyffordd, Carmarthenshire  29/11/2021   531 days 1717 km WSW 

As it was ringed in June it is likely that  Lithuania was it's  breeding area.

Starling KE14864

Not many G rings are used at our garden ringing sites..

So this 2cy Buzzard was quite an achievement in Chris's whoosh net- slightly different from the Corvids including a few Jays caught recently.


To end November, this Woodcock with an abnormally short bill was ringed by Arfon. 


It measured just 57 mm (bill to skull), presumably a healthy juvenile arriving in mid Wales to winter from it's natal area much further east.

(Rich D and Wendy J)

Tuesday 2 November 2021

A Leach's to start October ....

The weather in October was mostly tricky for mist netting but here is a round up of what the Group have been doing.

The highlight of the month was a species not often ringed in Wales. The night after a storm on the 5th October, a Leach's Petrel was found stranded ashore in Fishguard Harbour. 20 had been counted passing Strumble Head that day. It was handed to Sea Trust Wales and kept at the Ocean Lab where we took biometrics and ringed it. 

It was a healthy bird weighing 38.8g. It was released back to sea that night. See Cliff Benson's post on PembsBirds

Leach's Petrel forked tail

Another Leach's Petrel had been ringed by the Group on 5th September 2019 along with some stranded Manx Shearwaters. See PembsBirds blog Sept 2019 for details.

Most of the ringing was on the Teifi Marshes and in gardens. Just 302 birds ringed during the month.

Redwing started to arrive in October and were the most frequently encountered bird with 63 ringed, mostly in dusk roosts.

Although 27 different species were ringed there were very few of each compared to previous autumns.

News of a Reed Warbler ringed in our Mallard nets caught by ringers in Alderney

Reed Warbler ARP9391

Ringed  Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion 14/08/2021

Subsequently encountered  Longis Bay, Alderney 04/09/2021 21 days 316km 

Now November is here, we have some of the following ringing to plan ...

Reed Buntings - Potter traps, Redwings - pre and post roost, Finch ringing - likely various garden sites, House Sparrow project - Andy's, Willow Tit project - Arfon, Woodcock - moonless nights, Forestry sites - nice weather !

One of the Group, Molly is currently in USA working at Klamath Bird Obs. A paper based on her recent  MSc at Bangor University has been published in BTO's Bird Study

Using rangefinder binoculars to measure the behaviour and movement of European Shags Phalacrocorax aristotelis in coastal environments

Some thoughts for 2022...

Most of the Group are visiting Skokholm Bird Observatory next year, the first visit planned for the end of April. 

Richard D and Wendy J

Tuesday 5 October 2021

September update

September started with calm weather and the chance to open nets on several occasions but as the month went on we struggled to find suitable weather windows. The September totals below are from all of the Group sites.

male Blackcap

Blackcaps featured well this year, no surprise in our scrubby site near the river on the Teifi Marshes  and a considerable increase on last year's 40 ringed but change in effort is the main reason

September totals

Andy's House Sparrow colour ringing aids the RAS study and continues to deliver new and subsequent sightings - see his blogs ...Bancyffordd RAS summary 2021   and  House Sparrow April summary

With ringing sites becoming established in upland conifer plantations some more variety in species should be possible in years to come. This is building on long running studies of the Preseli forests by Paddy Jenks. Karen started nicely by ringing a Firecrest in Ty Rhyg forest. Meadow Pipits were an upland species too at a site on Dinas Mountain. 

A Robin from the Midlands shows a nice South West  seasonal  movement, and I would like to think the same with the appearance of  un ringed Cettis Warblers this September - we have had movements from West Wales to middle England this time of year.

Robin AXH6098

Ringed Middleton,Warwickshire 23/06/2021

Re-encountered Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion 21/09/2021 90 days 207km WSW

Goldfinches are continuing to  become the norm  ringing at feeders and produce recoveries across the UK and abroad. The number seen has been increasing over the last few weeks and this one ringed in winter in France was in Wendy's garden in Llechryd this month

Goldfinch  8338252

Ringed Bazoges-en-Pareds, Vendee 04/01/2019

Re-encountered Llechryd, Ceredigion 18/09/2021 988 days 660 km NNW

It was an adult in wing moult

We took advantage of tides and weather, good to get some Dunlin and Ringed Plover ringed, we hope to carry on with catching small numbers of Ringed Plover over the winter months. 

Most birds we catch at this time of year are juveniles. The adults we do catch stand out immediately by the wear on the feathers, particularly primary tips as shown on this Dunlin.

Some of the group have been collecting specimens for the UK Flat Fly project co-ordinated by Denise Wawman. This is looking at the distribution of flat flies around the UK. For the last few months we have had specimen pots ready and waiting for a flat fly to spring out from a birds feathers and catch it quickly before it dives towards the ringers hair!  The Flat Fly Family are ectoparasites that feed on blood of birds and mammals. Those that occur on birds don't feed on humans. The flatness of flat flies allows them to slide between feathers to get at the skin of the host, where they plunge a hypodermic-like mouthpart through the skin to suck up blood. 

Flat Fly collecting

The bulk of the specimens have been collected by Andy from the many House Sparrows he rings. Other species with flat flies have included Blackbird, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldfinch. Song Thrush and Goldcrest. 

October has started with unfavourable weather for ringing but we are optimistic for the next week having studied the weather forecast.

Rich D and Wendy J

Thursday 23 September 2021

Early Autumn on the Teifi Marshes, Poppit and Skokholm

Our main activities at this time of year are mist netting on the Teifi Marshes and Andy's continuing work with House Sparrows. If you missed his last blog it is well worth a read particularly for anyone who catches House Sparrows with some tips regarding ageing.

Bancyffordd House Sparrow RAS summary

In the first couple of weeks of September, over 250 birds have been encountered on the two sites on the Teifi Marshes. Some of the species caught are mentioned below...

Sparrowhawks are often seen over the marshes but not many have been ringed on the reserve but this young male was ringed this month at our site near the river.

Reed Warbler numbers seem to be as expected with 21 birds ringed and an old one re - encountered that was ringed in 2014. The number of adult Reed Warblers re- encountered from previous years for our RAS project is now slightly above average at 42. 

Sedge Warblers are slowing down with just 31 ringed so far this month. 

One that we ringed on migration was re-encountered by another ringer 3 days later in Dorset, a site that we have exchanged several birds with over the years.

AJN6891 ringed Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion 23/08/2021

Re - encountered Squire's Down, Dorset 26/08/2021 3 days 201 km SE by T Squires

Blackcaps have been the main catch in the last week with over 70 ringed this month. A fat 6 Garden Warbler was a hefty 22.4g. Just 1 Grasshopper Warbler is lower than usual but other migration sites eg Cornwall and Wiltshire have reported many more than usual.

The new moon and very high tides meant that we were able to catch some waders feeding on Poppit beach. Dunlin and Ringed Plover were ringed and a new species, an adult Black-tailed Godwit.

The  size of bill and the moult limit in the primaries are features that lead us to this being an adult male islandica Black-tailed Godwit.

Some of the group experienced a trip to Skokholm at the beginning of the month along with two trainees from Gower Ringing Group. Here is a mention of our visit on the Skokholm blog 

Over 500 birds were processed during the weekend. The main focus was ringing Manx Shearwater fledglings at night and different catching techniques for passerines including spring traps and walk in Pipit traps

Ringing Manx Shearwaters

Some Storm Petrel chicks were ringed along with many Willow Warblers, 3 Pipit species and Pied and Spotted Flycatchers

Spotted Flycatcher (Andrew Hughes)

And not forgetting the Wryneck, a record year for them on Skokholm.

Wryneck (Andrew Hughes)

Many thanks to Rich and Giselle, wardens  for helping to make all the ringing weekends this year a special experience for everyone.

Rich D and Wendy J

Friday 10 September 2021

Bancyffordd HOUSE SPARROW RAS summary for 2021


2020 was the trial year for the House Sparrow RAS in Bancyffordd, it proved successful and so the project was registered with the BTO. Colour ringing of individuals commenced during October that year. During 2021 the RAS has been completed between the dates of the 1st April until the 31st August and 117 adult birds were recorded. Over the same period 300 juveniles have been ringed for the second year in succession. Well over 450 birds have now been colour ringed but with only two years of data the project remains in its infancy.

Because of the ease with which colour ringed individuals can be identified, it is not surprising that the number of adult birds recorded this year has been greater than the total for 2020. Sighting data suggest that there have been at least 60 pairs that have had either single or multiple breeding attempts throughout the summer. During this period, some adult birds have seemingly disappeared from the population but many known juveniles from 2020 have bred for the first time. Leading up to 2020, there was no focussed effort to ring House Sparrows in our garden and so annual totals varied considerably. the age structure of the adults seen during 2021 is as follows:

From a nest in 2016 or earlier                  2 (both males)

From a nest in 2017 or earlier                  6

From the 2017 breeding season            1

From a nest in 2018 or earlier                  6

From a nest in 2019 or earlier                 13

From the 2019 breeding season             2 (both were from garden nest boxes)

From the 2020 breeding season             32 (1 of which was from a garden nest box)

From a nest in 2020 or earlier                  55

All free flying nest box chicks have been colour ringed when trapped during 2021 and it is planned to continue to do this in future years which should mean that the 32 known age birds seen this year should increase substantially in 2022. All being well, it should be possible to start looking at how many of the 3JJ birds (most likely to have been from a nest in the village) remain in the village to continue the village colony.

In August, two of the colour ringed birds have been photographed in gardens in Ceredigion, one in Llandysul (2.8km) and the other in Adpar (11.0km). Both birds were from the 2021 breeding season. It is most likely that the birds were from the Bancyffordd breeding colony, but this is not proven. If one assumes that late summer/autumn dispersal from the colony occurs, then it is also fair to assume that birds are recruited into the Bancyffordd population from external sources. It seems to be clear that individuals of all ages fly freely within the colony but at what distance this ‘freedom’ is curtailed is not obvious as adult birds from a satellite colony seem somewhat reluctant to travel the short distance of 280m from their nesting area to the centre of the village.

A group of juvenile sparrows drinking from a bowl in an Adpar garden, S65 on the right hand side.

                                S78 feeding with other birds (not shown) in a Llandysul garden.

This year I have noticed a lack pale feathering in juvenile birds and the near absence of random white feathers in adult birds. Many of the juveniles have had growth bars which isn’t too surprising given the periods of poor weather during the breeding season. Often juvenile birds have been host to the relatively large flat fly O.avicularia. Even though some birds have multiple flies, I have not noticed any apparent ill health (e.g., low mass, reduced pectoral muscle) as a result their infestation. More recently I have noticed large ticks on some birds; these seem to be more of a concern to the welfare of the birds as several of the hosts appear to be in poor condition.

Another topic I have spent some time looking at is the shape of secondary feathers. As moult progresses, it becomes increasingly challenging to age some birds, especially females. The following couple of photographs may be of use to those interested.


This bird is an adult female undergoing complete moult. One of the primary feathers has been replaced with a white feather. Four old secondaries remain and, if the condition is reasonable, I think these can be used to help age female House Sparrows later in the moult cycle (see next photo). 


This is an age 3 male undergoing its first full moult. The first secondary has been replaced and the end shape of the new feather is notched compared to the inner juvenile feathers that are quite rounded in comparison. I have not seen any juvenile feathers that are notched.

The next few months will be spent trying to catch some of the numerous individuals (both adults with and without metal rings and young) that have avoided my bests efforts to date, many of these will end up as birds of no specific age.

Sunday 29 August 2021

Late Summer - some results and thoughts.

Some notes from our activities over the last few weeks...

Reed Warblers

The number of Reed Warblers re-encountered for the 8th year of our RAS project is looking as expected with 42 birds from previous years.

We seem to be finding more females with brood patch 5 and in body moult ?  Have we no late nesting attempts ? Certainly many juveniles of several species including Reed Warblers have been caught with poor feather growth this season. Many examples of tail and wing feathers with fault bars. The example below is a Great Tit with a marked fault bar.

Sedge Warblers

Sedge Warbler ATP3573

Ringed Icklesham, Sussex 13/08/2021 by Rye Bay Ringing Group
Re -encountered Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion 19/08/2021 6 days 389 km West 

The movement above adds interest to the origins of our Sedge Warblers. We have thoughts that the reason we rarely find a control from further north is that a large proportion of our Sedge Warblers are passage birds from breeding areas of Ireland where few birds are ringed. The bird above maybe an arrival in the south east now heading west - or just a wandering juvenile...


Much lower numbers seen than previous years. Maybe the Swallows are using Maize fields down towards the estuary to feed over and roost. The largest roosts seen so far this season is only c250 birds and very few Sand Martins seen.

A breeding male with a nest in a garage 3kms away was caught in the roost, subsequently seen again at the nest 2 days later and now has another brood. We have not recorded this behaviour before and we assume the adult was on a feeding visit to the reedbed.

Reed Buntings

The number of Reed Buntings re-encountered for the 11th year of our RAS project is looking above average with 42 birds from previous years. Many of these are re-sightings of colour ringed birds with the majority of these sightings from our feeder near our Mallard Pond trapping area or from random feeding by Reserve visitors regularly leaving wild bird food in the car park.

Garden CES

The 2nd season has now been completed. 364 encounters of 20 species, 510 last year also 20 species with same nets and session length. The gut feeling was a decline in juveniles and this is backed up by the data and the graph clearly shows the smaller number of juveniles of selected species.

It will be interesting to see the BTO analysis of this season across all of the garden CES sites.

Storm Petrels

Only 3 Storm Petrels were ringed by the Group in 2020 but one of those has been re-encountered this month in Anglesey.

Storm Petrel 2720334

Ringed Mwnt, Ceredigion 17/07/2020

Re-encountered Point Lynas, Amlwch, Anglesey 03/08/2021 382 days 145km N

Into the autumn at our old CES site by the river and  Pentood Marsh nets. A mixture of reed bed, scrub with a lot of bramble that is fruiting well. Over the coming weeks these sites will become our focus as the numbers of acros fall, Chifchaff and Blackcaps will make up the bulk of the captures with a few species of an autumnal flavour...

Rich D & Wendy J

Sunday 1 August 2021

Juvenile Acrocephalus Numbers

The following table summarises the number of juvenile Acrocephalus warblers ringed on the Teifi Marshes up to the end of July for each of the last eight years.

RW = Reed Warbler
SW = Sedge Warbler
effort = ringing sessions, i.e. a combination of the number of days and different sites at which ringing took place.
RW/e and SW/e indicate the number of new juvenile birds ringed per session, rounded to the nearest whole bird!

RW SW effort RW/e SW/e
2014 131 98 26 5 4
2015 89 53 17 5 3
2016 82 67 22 4 3
2017 84 120 21 4 6
2018 99 132 28 4 5
2019 30 46 18 2 3
2020 57 64 20 3 3
2021 48 58 14 3 4


The numbers will be a function of both the number of breeding pairs present and of their breeding success.

Monday 26 July 2021

Mid summer - Seabirds and Warblers

Over the last few weeks the Group has been busy with many varied activities. 

On the Reserve..a juvenile Cetti's Warbler was the first likely to have bred on the Teifi Marshes Reserve since 2017. This follows the wipe-out of our previously successful breeding population by the "Beast from the East" in early 2018

Sedge Warbler Z053132 trapped Teifi Marshes on the 1st July in the same net as ringed ... but at 6 yrs 11m 8 days later, appears to break Welsh record by about 3 weeks

Old birds at garden CES too, a  Chaffinch ringed in July 2014 and not seen until this month.

Storm Petrels

We have made two visits to Mwnt this year to ring Storm Petrels. Small numbers ringed on each visit but already one of them has been caught elsewhere. 

Storm Petrel at Mwnt (Photo Toni)

2720337 was ringed at Mwnt on 13th June this year and caught by ringers on Little Saltee, Wexford on 23rd July 40 days, 132 km West

Mwnt to Little Saltee


Four of the Group and two trainees from Gower Ringing Group enjoyed a weekend on Skokholm at the beginning of the month. 

South coast path - Andrew

As expected in early July it was quiet for Passerines but the group were able to spend time learning some new techniques and species.

A team effort to top up the colour ringed population of Puffins in Crab Bay was an excellent learning experience. 

Colour ringing Puffins in Crab Bay.

More photos and details about this project on the Skokholm blog 

The gull trap was used for the first time since 2019. Some food slops were used to entice gulls into the trap. 23 gulls were caught. Four adult Herring Gulls were colour ringed as part of a long-term study into adult survival. Again, more on the Skokholm blog 

Alison ringing a gull

Other activities included ringing Manx Shearwaters for a few hours each night along the study transect, ringing Oystercatcher chicks and running the Heligoland traps. 
Thanks to Rich, Giselle and the staff on Skokholm.

Details of some recent Controls

Reed Warbler AZL7341

Ringed Keyhaven Marshes, Hants 27/08/2020

Re-encountered Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion 29/06/2021 306 days 262 km NW


Ringed Bardsey Island, Gwynedd 29/04/2021

Re-encountered Llechryd garden CES, Ceredigion 12/06/2021 44 days 77km S 

Also at garden CES on 22/07/2021 84 days

Finally, a welcome to our new trainee Thomas Faulkner.

Sunday 6 June 2021

May news; birds on the move - Russia, Portugal, France, Scotland...

The end of April into the beginning of May saw the expected passage of Sedge Warblers through the Teifi Marshes.

151 ringed this spring and several returning birds. The oldest was ringed in 2017

One Sedge Warbler had been ringed in Portugal in 2015 on its first migration south, the Group's first recovery with a Lisbon ring.

Sedge Warbler A396383

Ringed  Salreu, Aveiro, Portugal 02/10/2015

Re-encountered Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion 07/05/2021 2044 days 1298 km NNE

and two others had been ringed in France

Sedge Warbler 8574578

Ringed Trunvel, Treogat, France 08/08/2020

Re-encountered Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion 01/05/2020 266 days 468 km N

Sedge Warbler 8933871

Ringed Frossay, Loire Atlantique, France

Re-encountered Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion 29/04/2020    261 days 572 km NNW

Several of the group are still catching Siskins in our gardens, a mix of local breeders and those on their way back to breeding areas illustrated by the following movements...

Siskin ARP8598

Ringed Boncath, Pembrokeshire 20/03/2021

Re-encountered Ballater, Aberdeenshire  15/05/2021 56 days 569km N Grampian Ringing Group

Siskin  AZN2321

Ringed Crynant, Neath 22/05/2021

Re-encountered Clarbeston Road, Pembs 29/05/2021 7 days 79km W Gower Ringing Group

Siskin  AEK0683
Ringed Clarbeston Road, Pembs 17/05/2021

Re-encountered Peebles, Scottish Borders  27/05/2021  10 days 437km NNE Borders Ringing Group

Some details of controls and recoveries of other species received this month...

Woodcock EZ52435

Ringed near Ffarmers, Carmarthenshire 16/01/2020

Shot Vokhtoma, Kostroma O, Russian Federation 06/05/2021 476 days 3080 km ENE

Dipper RZ13870

Ringed Llandilo, Pembs 28/04/2020

Re-encountered Dolbont, Pembs 06/04/2021    343 days 12 km N

Interesting movement across the Preseli Hills

You might have noticed that the maps in this blog look different to our usual Google Earth images. Many thanks to Stephen Vickers for creating the new, easy to use mapping tool.

The garden CES in Llechryd is continuing this year. As ringing has been carried out there since 2008 a lot of old birds are turning up. This Dunnock was ringed in 2013 and not seen since. Although not a UK longevity record it looks like it might be the most number of years since ringing of a Dunnock in Wales.

Not many juveniles have been ringed yet, just a Robin and Dunnocks. Blue Tits are already being seen in post-breeding moult.

If you missed Andy's interesting post about progress with his House Sparrow RAS it is worth a read

House Sparrow April summary

The main activity of several group members in May and June is nest box monitoring. Details of results to follow in a blog post once the breeding season has finished. 

One of Andrew's nest boxes in Ffos Las

Initial comments have been that several boxes failed with high mortality prior to fledging in the stormy weather.