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”.

Saturday 20 August 2022

Stormies, Terns and Totals..

Storm Petrels - a couple of movements involving a previous year.

- our July 2022 dates are prior to us suspending our seabird activity.

Storm Petrel at Mwnt

Storm Petrel 2758582

Ringed Skokholm Island, Pembs 17/07/2021

Re-encountered Mwnt, Ceredigion  17/07/2022 365 days 67km NE

Storm Petrel 2649728

Ringed Port Iago, Llangwnnadl, Gwynedd 31/07/2021

Re-encountered Mwnt, Ceredigion  17/07/2022 351 days 78km S


Totals...Since our last blog at the end of June.

Some of these are part of specific projects such as Reed Bunting and Reed Warbler RAS and our Garden CES. The interim results of these studies will be looked at in more detail in the next blog.

Nice to see the numbers of our study species, Linnets, House Sparrows, Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings. A high proportion of these are this year's fledged juveniles.

Passerine Movements ...

Sedge Warbler APP4161

Ringed  Isle of Aran, North Ayrshire 27/07/2022 Clyde Ringing Group

Re-encountered Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion 18/08/2022 22 days 379km S

Sedge Warbler on its first migration south

This movement is our first Sedge Warbler from west Scotland where presumably fledged. Rarely do we get recoveries of warblers from their breeding grounds, most are of birds going south after ringing by us, or returning passage birds.
Sedge Warbler ATP4796  

Ringed Icklesham, Sussex Rye Bay Ringing Group 28/08/2021

Re-encounteredCors Caron, Ceredigion 08/07/2022 314 days 352km WNW

Lesser Redpoll  ATT0847 Wessex Ringing Group

Ringed Blashford Lake, Dorset 12/03/2022
Re-encountered Ty Rhyg plantation, Pembs 09/08/2022 150 days 242km WNW

The regular southbound passage of Sandwich Terns  through the Teifi in late July gives us a chance for some colour ring sightings. Up to 50 Terns per day have been seen this year, including many juveniles. We are grateful to Hannah Cook for sending us photos of some colour ringed birds for us to submit.

Sandwich Tern from Ynyslas 

Details of waders and Terns colour ringed by Mid Wales ringing Group can be entered directly here

Mid-Wales Ringing Group colour ring reporter

giving an instant report and map without the need to email the ringer. A very useful tool created by Stephen Vickers.

Red KZN ringed at Ynyslas

Sandwich Tern Yellow KFS was another bird photographed on the 25th by Hannah.

This adult Sandwich Tern was ringed as as a chick in 2017 on Lady's Island, Wexford , Eire and was last seen in Shearwater Bay, Namibia last October. (2021) 

Sandwich Tern Yellow KFS

A juvenile Sandwich Tern with an orange flag KEV seen on 26th July had been ringed at Cemlyn lagoon, Anglesey on 20th June 2022.

(Rich D and Wendy J)

Sunday 26 June 2022

Totals, and the first juveniles appear

May ended with a Skokholm visit - more in a separate blog by Thom, on his first visit (see post below).... the re encounter of this Moltoni's Warbler was the highlight. The bird gave it's distinctive and diagnostic  call after release and a feather sample had been obtained previously.

Moltoni's Warbler

Ringing totals - these are year to date following a large DemOn entry over the past week, some from earlier in the year..

The ringing totals for the first 6 months of the year ringing are slightly lower than the average for the last 6 years. Looking through the species, our main projects eg RAS and targeted ringing eg Woodcock are often discussed on this blog through the year as the seasons provides ongoing results.

A few species in the table that are worthy of further comment

House Sparrow ...see link to Andy's RAS study 

House Sparrow RAS update 

Linnets...Chris is working at a new site on the north Pembs coast, currently in development as a  RAS study and showing good potential, with 170 ringed recently.

The whoosh net for Linnets in place

Other species have also been ringed at this cliff top location including a very young Skylark and an adult, Grasshopper Warbler, Stonechat, Meadow Pipits and Dunnocks

Reed Warblers... an ongoing RAS study

One of our most important species for the reserve, with a great history,  captures a bit low so far this season with 27 so far from previous years. Here is an example of a Reed Warbler's life history ....

Richard Donaghey, Causeway Coast Ringing Group wrote a report on the Reed Warbler in Northern Ireland back in 2018 (see link below) including the migration routes, ringing recoveries to/from Ireland & recoveries of NI Sedge Warblers. 4 years on, the Reed Warbler has continued to spread across Ireland. 

In the report a Teifi Marsh Reed Warbler is mentioned because the recovery was one of several that helped plot the migration routes.

"Reed Warbler P351137 has a fantastic life history and shows a clear migration route with a nice sequence of recoveries. It was originally ringed as a juvenile in August 2000 in Arklow, Wicklow before heading off to sub-Saharan Africa for the winter. It returned north via Portland Bill Bird Observatory, Dorset on the 3rdof June 2001 before being trapped once again two days later in south-west Wales at the Teifi Marshes. This wasn’t the end of the story as it was recaptured back at its breeding site in Arklow seven days later and was retrapped there on a number of occasions right up until the 12th of August. "

Reed ongoing RAS study

We are very grateful to photographers visiting the reserve who send us record shots of colour-ringed birds.

Reed Bunting 

This female Reed Bunting from Michael Davey was ringed in July 2019 as a juvenile and seen several times each year since, usually near Mallard hide

Sedge Warblers... 

Sedge Warbler

300 new this Spring. On the peak migration days, we encountered a bird ringed elsewhere every day for 3 days. Few Sedge Warblers actually breed on our site, many more Reed Warblers do. 

Willow Tit...records including colour-ringed birds still to be entered. There is ongoing potential for a RAS study by Arfon on Cors Caron. 


Kevin Henderson has joined the Group having moved to the Pen Caer peninsular. He is already ringing in his garden and he has plans to set up a couple of sites in his local area as well as joining other group activities.


Herring Gull 2PH 

Ringed 13/03/04 Stoke Orchard Landfill Site, Gloucestershire.

Seen frequently there until 2010 then

17/07/18 Nevern Estuary, Newport, Pembs by the late Sam Baxter (188 km, W, 14 yrs 126days)

06/06/22 Teifi Marshes on the river from Curlew Hide (175 km, W, 18 yrs 85 days)

Herring Gull 2PH

Reed Warbler ART6854

Ringed Oxwich Marsh, Swansea 12/09/2021 Gower Ringing Group

Subsequent encounter Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion 16/06/2022 277 days 67km NNW

Lesser Redpoll AEK1127

Ringed  Cors Caron, Ceredigion 04/03/2022

Subsequent encounter  Crynant, Neath 12/06/2022 100 days 61km Gower Ringing Group

July brings us Storm Petrel ringing, the start of warbler migration, hirundine roost ringing as well as continuing our ringing projects. Usually this means increasing numbers of birds as this year's juveniles swell the population, and many of the juveniles are not from local populations - so hopefully plenty of activity for the group. 

Members of the group will also be visiting Skokholm Bird Observatory twice in July.

(Rich D and Wendy J)

Thursday 23 June 2022

Skokholm trip 2022

On the 23rd of May, 7 members of the Teifi Ringing Group (and two honourary members) visited Skokholm. This was a first visiting the famous “Dream Island” for me.

The week started off with changeable weather, which would turn out to be the standard for the rest of the week. However the team persevered through the dodgy weather, and managed to push the heligolands every day, with a few days mist netting dispersed in between. This perseverance paid off with Spotted Flycatcher, Yellow Wagtail frequenting the stone walls one day on north plain, Garden Warbler and Yellowhammer (the first to be seen on Skokholm for eight years and only the second to be ringed in the last decade) caught. Movement of migrants through the island had stalled with low numbers of Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler observed or ringed daily.


Elsewhere rarities spotted on our time here included an Icterine Warbler skulking in the scrub near the hide at north pond. The star rarity of the week surely must have been Moltoni's Warbler (a first record for Wales), which made watchers work hard for the briefest glimpses in the small trees of the courtyard.

The Moltoni's Warbler attracted a small flock of twitchers to the courtyard,
only the third record of this rare phenomena on Skokholm in the last 10 years

Other activities included Puffin ringing on the neck (the catching likened by Miguel as more stressful than two hours of football penalties at the world cup) and ringing Manx Shearwaters each night between the farm and the lighthouse. Good numbers of shearwaters were processed (which made the midnight alarms a little less painful), with around 20 new birds per person ringed, with similar numbers of previously ringed birds recaptured. The oldest ringed shearwater we caught was a bird ringed previously in 2014.

One of the many ringed Shearwaters

Puffin ringing at The Neck

The moth trap provided morning entertainment most days with the bulk comprising of Pod Lover, Buff Ermine, White Ermine, Campion and Marbled Coronet. Occasionally joined by treats that are Star-wort, Common Swift and Buff Tip.

Buff Tip Moth

We are very grateful to wardens Richard and Giselle for taking us on a Storm Petrel walk to the quarry to see the amazing petrel station and the colony using infrared cameras, as well as welcoming us to their island. I would also like to thank Alan Wilkins for sharing his knowledge and research into petrel vocalisations, and the LTVs Megan and Lucy for sharing their Fulmar studies with us. 

The staff were busy conducting whole island seabird counts,
including the Fulmars. 

A classic Pembrokeshire sunset

Thomas Faulkner,  Teifi Ringing Group trainee

Friday 20 May 2022

House Sparrow RAS update

I noticed the first juv. House Sparrows in the garden on the 27th of April and by the 2nd of May the first ones were carrying colour rings. The number of colour ringed juveniles has now reached 25 but the focus still remains on adult birds. 

Most brief ringing sessions at the moment have produced a couple of adult birds and an additional 26 have been colour ringed since the start of April. 19 of these birds were without a metal ring and 7 have been recaptures (5 ringed as 3's in 2020, 1 as a 2 in 2018 and 1 as a 2 in 2017). 

Comparing adult numbers in 2022 with (2021-entire season): new birds 19 (22), subsequent encounters 96 (100). The total number of new birds metal ringed in 2020 was 475 and in 2021 was 426 so the total of new 'adult' birds ringed during RAS is proportionately quite low in both of the subsequent years. In my mind there is no doubt that some of the un-ringed adult birds are of local origin and are individuals that have simply avoided being caught. I suspect that there is some 'infilling' from other areas over the late summer through to early autumn and perhaps early winter period but this is hard to prove at present as no other site is ringed locally.