Saturday 15 July 2023

Breeding bird studies....

During ongoing Linnet and House Sparrow RAS (retrapping Adults for Survival) studies we are seeing returning adults amongst the many juveniles. This early in the season it is difficult to analyse as most adults are on second broods. Chris and Andy will summarise later in the season.

Coastal habitat at the North Pembs Linnet RAS site

A juvenile (3JP) Reed Warbler  ringed on the 6th June was the earliest date for us by 12 days. By the 14th of July we have ringed 56 juvenile birds presume most fledged on the Teifi Marshes, our RAS study site now in its 9th year. We have fewer returning ringed adults at this stage of the season but we are still encountering new ringed adults for RAS and a surprising number of unringed adults. 

Our first juvenile Sedge Warblers were caught on the 28th June.

The Teifi Marshes Reed Bunting RAS and colour ringing is continuing into its 12th year, and our RAS season for this species continues until 30th September. As with all our RAS studies, a small summary in a forthcoming post.

New photographers on the reserve are coming on board with looking for colour rings and reporting them to us. This one that was ringed in 2017 and  sent to us recently.

Pied Flycatchers

In Pengelli Forest North Pembs, out of fifty boxes, five were used by Pied Flycatchers. Five adult females and thirty pulli were ringed and all fledged. All figures from this year's work are very high by recent years. Occupancy, eggs laid, v low infertility and high fledging rate.

Pied Flycatchers in Ffynone

Pied Flycatchers were first proved to breed in Pembs in 1979 in Ffynone where they still breed. In Ffynone wood, only four boxes put up by a local school several years ago remain. One near the waterfall was used this year by Pied Flycatchers and 5 young fledged.

Pengelli is owned by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales and has a nest box scheme primarily for Pied Flycathers which started in the early 1980's.

In the years 1984-1987 average box occupancy by Pied Flys was  11.5 pairs p a  (range 8 -14 pairs).  This level was not maintained for long.

When the TRG took over monitoring on behalf of WTSWW in 2011 occupancy was 3/4 pairs and from 0 to 21 pulli ringed in each year until this year (30  pulli ringed and fledged). 

Reasons for a more successful 2023 breeding season may be easier to understand next year. Return rate of  "Pengelli' adults and weather / food availabilty.  Historical Pengelli data from Nathan Walton (WTSWW)

Of boxes in the Gwaun Valley (PCNP) only two box were used and 11 fledged.

Rheidol Valley woods (WTSWW) 
No change in Pied Flycatcher box uptake at Coed Simdde Llwyd, but attempts were down at Pant Da (10 attempts compared to 15 in 2022).
Unusual loss of young during chick stage, with some broods only fledging 3, 4, or 5 chicks when the average is 6/7.  Luckily, only two nests were totally lost and this was due to predation; one unknown predator, and one woodpecker (judging by the size of the hole!) One adult male found dead in the same box a great tit was found dead in the week before – but no sign of nesting!
Across the two woodlands all broods were ringed, (91 young), 6 new males, 9 new females, and one female control from Lake Vyrnwy!
Coed Simdde; 35 fledged from 53 eggs laid. Pant Da; 56 fledged from 61 eggs laid. (Naomi Davis)

(Rich D and Wendy J)

Friday 14 July 2023

Extra curricular summer activities

For the early summer, I have been extremely fortunate to be welcomed on various projects around Wales and England hosted by some wonderful ringing groups.

Pied Flycatchers pulli

I joined Dave Anning and Ceri Jones to their local sites in Llanidloes and the Centre for Alternative Technology, to ring my first passerine pulli.

Species encountered included Nuthatch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit and of course Pied Flycatchers.

Two visits to each site were made and nest box occupancy was generally similar to previous years, however the number of surviving chicks were 2-3 fewer per boxes than expected (possibly attributed to the low numbers of flying insects observed this year).

Comparison of Male and female Nuthatch. 

Portland breakwaters Gull ringing project

Each year the breakwaters  sheltering the waters of Portland Harbour, are visited by the Portland breakwaters ringing group to colour ring Herring and Great Black-backed Gull pulli.

The breakwaters had a distinct Greek island feel to it with intense heat, pale limestone and drought resistant vegetation (which made making finding the gulls tricky).

Active measures are being undertaken to preserve the breeding colonies. Avian influenza is a primary concern, and to minimise risk biosecurity measures were undertaken. These included wearing sterile overalls and disinfecting footwear.

The breakwaters were constructed during Napoleonic times and host incredible military fortifications not normally accessible to the public.

Around 30-40 gulls were ringed over 7 hours of searching the whole length of the breakwaters.

Mid Wales Barn Owl Group

The Mid Wales Barn Owl Group monitor Barn Owl nest sites, and work with landowners to provide new nesting opportunities for the species.

The group offered to show me the best sites in the Machynlleth area, which surprisingly all turned out to be located within 5 minutes of my house. 

Six pulli were ringed in total, following the trend in the area with all signs pointing to 2023 becoming a successful year for the species.

All of these species were new to me, and involved new methods and techniques. I am extremely grateful to all the local groups mentioned.

Additionally the visit to the Portland breakwaters  was made possible by the BTO seabird ringing grant.

(Thom Faulkner)

Recent recoveries

Birds encountered this month that had been ringed elsewhere were from France, Portugal and Alderney...


Sedge Warbler 9108551

Ringed  Treogat, Finistere, France 13/08/2022

Re-encountered Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion 02/05/2023 307 days 468km N Also 16th May and 16th June

Sedge Warbler 991010

Ringed Frossay, Loire Atlantique 03/08/2022

Re-encountered Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion 01/05/2023 271 days 573km NNW

Reed Warbler   AE49662

Ringed  Longis Bay, Alderney, CI 28/08/2022

Re-encountered   Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion 06/06/2023 282 days 316km NNW Also 13th June

Reed Warbler    A548975

Ringed Paul do Taipal, Coimbra, Portugal 20/09/2022

Re-encountered Teifi Marshes, Ceredigion 28/06/2023 281 days 1360km NNE

In the last blog we posted that  we had our first visit to Mwnt to catch Storm Petrels. Since then we managed a session at Strumble Head enabling several of the Group to experience nocturnal ringing. 15 were caught including one that Andrew had ringed on Skokholm last summer.

Storm Petrel 2774206

Ringed Skokholm Island 22/07/2022

Re-encountered Strumble Head, Pembs 23/06/2023 336 days, 40km NNE

Update - a visit to Mwnt during the night, three new Storm Petrels ringed on the 14th July.

Pied Flycatcher

Two North Ceredigion WTSWW woods that have had nest box schemes for several years are now being run by the TRG (Naomi Davis)  An adult female in an active box in Pant Da in the Rheidol Valley on the 1st June had been ringed age 1 in a nest box in  Pendugwm, Powys  on the 8th June 2021. 723  days 56km West.

We have only one previous Pied Flycatcher recovery, ringed in a nest box in Pengelli on 04/06/2011 and re-encountered as a breeding female in Burton Wood, Derbyshire on a year later on 15/06/2012. 267km NNE.

Sometimes details of birds ringed elsewhere take a while to come through. News this week of a Sand Martin re-encountered by Arfon 4 years ago!

Sand Martin  7283046
Ringed at Roseliere, Chenac-Saint-Seurin-d'Uzet,Charente-Maritime,France 17/07/2014
Re-encountered Dolaugwyrddon, Ceredigion 26/07/2019 1835 days 770km NNW

The Mediterranean Gull and Sandwich Tern colour-ring reading season has arrived. 
This 2nd year bird was photographed by Hannah on the 9th July at The Webley, Teifi Estuary.

R8UN was ringed as a pullus  25/06/2022 at Polder de Sebastopol; Barbâtre; Vendée; Pays de la Loire; France. Hannah's sighting was the first since ringing.

The Webley sand banks are the classic spot on the Teifi to enjoy looking through the Gulls, Terns and Waders for colour - ringed birds.

(Wendy J and Rich D)