Oxwich Marsh 12 June 2021: Fledglings, a thrush, and a bit of chafing

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Excellent conditions for ringing, with a very light north-westerly breeze and initial low cloud base, resulted in our largest catch of the year to date.

The day total of 189 birds of 22 species broke down as follows:

The highlights were:

  • Our first two fledgling chiffchaffs of the year (along with an adult)
  • A good day total of 52 goldfinches (this also explains the rapid rate of consumption of sunflower seed at present).
  • A recaptured grasshopper warbler. The bird was initially ringed in early May and has been on site for almost six weeks. Reeling between early and mid-morning indicated it is holding territory, and it was in breeding condition, having developed a cloacal protrusion. We hope to catch some youngsters in a couple of weeks time.
  • Our first fledgling great spotted woodpeckers of the year.
  • A mistle thrush. Only our third at the marsh, and completely unexpected. They are often recorded flying high over the marsh in small parties and foraging in the field, but the net the bird was captured in was some way into the reedbed.
  • Two fledged stonechats. Failure to capture a very attractive male that spent much of the morning singing from between two lines of nets still rankled a little though!
  • Our first young whitethroats. A family party was captured, with the two young birds among them still growing primaries and tail feathers.

In addition, a reed warbler and a great tit ringed in 2017 were captured, with the former being reasonably notable in terms of age.

No reptiles were recorded this week (following a grass snake and a few common lizard sightings last time out), but invertebrates included a hairy dragonfly female noted consuming a large red damselfly, our first thick-legged flower beetles of the year, and a few Welsh chafers Hoplia philanthus.

Despite the relatively large catch, the morning felt relatively slow and steady, which is testament to the capability of the team we had out.

Thanks to Heather Coats, Keith Vaughton, Val Wilson, Sarah Davies, Richard Dann, Amy Schwartz, Miguel Lurgi and Tom Wright for company and assistance, and to Sarah, Richard, Amy and Tom for photographs.

Owain Gabb



A young whitethroat. The bird was released close to the point of capture, as its flight feathers were still growing
A handsome adult reed bunting; a recaptured bird ringed in 2019
A (putative) Welsh chafer
A young stonechat. One of two captured on the day
A juvenile chiffchaff. First of the year.
One of fifteen newly ringed blue tits, most of which were youngsters like this one
Probably the bird of the day, this male grasshopper warbler has been on the marsh since early May
A young great spotted woodpecker. One of three captured.
A female hairy dragonfly digesting a large lunch
Mistle thrush. A rarely-captured species on this marsh, with this being only the third bird ringed.


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