Oxwich Marsh 1 June 2019: one in 27,000

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A gentle south-easterly wind and open skies at Oxwich this Saturday. We had a relatively small team, and only put up limited nets. Ninety-three birds was therefore a good return.

The catch broke down as follows:

Species Name
Ringed
Recaptured
Total
Blackbird
6
1
7
Blackcap
2
2
Blue Tit
7
5
12
Chaffinch
3
2
5
Chiffchaff
1
1
Dunnock
4
4
8
Goldfinch
8
3
11
Great Spotted Woodpecker
3
3
Great Tit
7
11
18
Greenfinch
4
1
5
Jay
1
1
Reed Bunting
1
1
Reed Warbler
1
4
5
Robin
3
2
5
Sedge Warbler
3
2
5
Siskin
1
1
Whitethroat
2
2
Willow Warbler
1
1
Grand Total
51
42
93

The highlights were:

  • Our first juvenile blue tits of the year.
  • Surprisingly, perhaps, our first juvenile dunnocks of the year
  • A good day catch of new blackbirds. These included new juveniles, adult female and male birds.
  • Our first ever jay at the site. A female with an engorged brood patch.

Jay has been the odds-on favourite to be the next new bird to be captured at the site for the past couple of years. Given that parties of 3-4 birds are seen around the nets on most visits, that there are a wide variety of netting locations, and that we had ringed over 18,450 birds and processed in excess of 27,300 birds since we started at Oxwich in 2013 (a pilot year), a jay was very much overdue. When it finally came, it was captured in a 12 m net adjacent to a feeder; the net runs through dense ruderal vegetation dominated by hemlock water-dropwort enclosed by stands of willow – not the location we would have betted on. It is the 64th species to be captured at Oxwich.

During the time it has taken us to capture a jay, we have captured the following at the site:

Species
Name
Ringed
Recaptured
Total
Blackbird
210
157
367
Blackcap
879
54
933
Blue Tit
1895
2058
3953
Brambling
31
5
36
Bullfinch
70
40
110
Cetti’s Warbler
133
136
269
Chaffinch
1007
344
1351
Chiffchaff
654
40
694
Coal Tit
35
25
60
Dunnock
253
662
915
Firecrest
15
15
Garden Warbler
62
1
63
Goldcrest
475
25
500
Goldfinch
1817
733
2550
Grasshopper Warbler
60
13
73
Great Spotted Woodpecker
103
338
441
Great Tit
671
1344
2015
Green Woodpecker
3
1
4
Greenfinch
1264
320
1584
Grey Wagtail
11
11
House Martin
110
110
Jack Snipe
38
3
41
Jay
1
1
Kingfisher
14
2
16
Lesser Redpoll
12
12
Lesser Whitethroat
6
6
Little Bunting
1
1
Long-tailed Tit
154
68
222
Magpie
3
2
5
Marsh Tit
5
5
10
Meadow Pipit
213
1
214
Mistle Thrush
2
2
Mute Swan
6
3
9
Nuthatch
6
10
16
Pied/White Wagtail
193
193
Redstart
2
2
Redwing
250
250
Reed Bunting
592
369
961
Reed Warbler
1061
262
1323
Robin
356
427
783
Sand Martin
118
118
Sedge Warbler
822
181
1003
Siskin
732
795
1527
Skylark
4
4
Snipe
177
11
188
Song Thrush
69
40
109
Sparrowhawk
6
4
10
Starling
14
14
Stonechat
56
3
59
Swallow
2576
14
2590
Tree Pipit
81
81
Treecreeper
27
1
28
Water Rail
3
3
Wheatear
1
1
Whinchat
3
3
Whitethroat
181
37
218
Willow Tit
2
2
Willow Warbler
518
36
554
Wood Warbler
1
1
Woodpigeon
1
1
Wren
363
277
640
Yellow Wagtail
4
4
Yellow-browed Warbler
21
21
Yellowhammer
1
1
Grand
Total
18454
8847
27301

Based on the above, by the time we get to 5 jays we will have ringed over 100 yellow-browed warblers, 75 firecrests, 885 snipe and almost 13,000 swallows. I rather doubt it will work out that way! It is interesting to speculate what the next new bird at Oxwich will be: tawny owl, kestrel, mallard, pied and spotted flycatcher would probably be among the favourites, with bluethroat, aquatic warbler, Pallas’s warbler, wryneck, Savi’s warbler, common rosefinch and barred warbler among the more likely rare passage migrants and vagrants.


Another first on the day was a fulmar which was noted flying around over the marsh. It appeared to approach from an inland direction before eventually heading out towards the sea. 

We also recorded our first use of the reptile mats we had put out a couple of weeks before. A juvenile grass snake and two common lizards were noted.
Thanks to Heather Coats, Val Wilson, Jo Conway, Sarah Davies, Richard Dann and Miguel Lurgi for company and assistance.

Owain Gabb
02/06/2019

Jay (Richard Dan)

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Wayne Morris

At last.