Late July 2022: a good day at Oxwich and an advert for Skokholm hats …..

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A completely inaccurate weather forecast suggested it would be fairly windy, but rain was very unlikely. After a bit of deliberation we decided to give it a go at Oxwich. It was lucky that we did, as despite the regular light showers, wind speed only picked up from mid-morning onwards.

The catch of 150 birds was as follows:

The highlights were:

  • An excellent day total of 45 siskins, most of which were recently-fledged (second brood) youngsters.
  • A garden warbler; a young bird with immaculately fresh plumage. The last few days of July consistently return our first garden warbler of the year at Oxwich. Birds are then caught in variable numbers in August. Over the past 8 years we have caught the odd additional bird in September and one in October. However, the Site is not as good as WWT Llanelli or Kenfig for the species during autumn passage.
  • Our first Oxwich kingfisher of 2022. The bird was a youngster. The tarsus and upper side of the claws were dark (black/brown), which is indicative of a youngster, as was the all-dark bill. The colouration of the bird (blue-green as opposed to green-blue) suggested it was a male.
  • The recapture of a female grasshopper warbler initially ringed in April 2022, caught again on the marsh in May 2022, and re-trapped today, when it showed a feathering over brood patch. Good evidence of breeding.

Otherwise, the reed and sedge warbler numbers are ticking along, it was a good day on greenfinches (and more positively all the birds were healthy), and we caught another two treecreepers (taking the monthly total to four).

Other Group news concerned:

  • The French-ringed reed warbler we captured earlier in the month. It was ringed at Tour aux Moutons, Donges, Loire-Atlantique, France as a youngster in early August 2020. This is not the first exchange of birds between sites, indicating the migration route the species takes post breeding / fledging.
  • A magpie ringed at the Watch House, Southgate by Richard Dann in July 2021 and found dead at Crofty, on North Gower earlier this month. Only a local movement, but interesting dispersal none the less.
  • A pied flycatcher ringed as a pullus at Cwm Clydach in June 2016 and recaptured in Lancashire in May 2022 (when it was sexed as a female). Birds do not show fidelity to natal sites.
  • A blackbird ringed at the Watch House during a period of visible migration in October 2021 and recaptured some 306 km away in the Leeds area in May 2022, assumedly on its way back to northern Europe.
  • A swallow ringed at Oxwich in August 2022 and found dead near Narberth, Pembrokeshire in July of this year. Most of our autumn swallows seems to be South and West Wales breeding birds based on recoveries to date.

Last week was also the third Gower RG visit to Skokholm this season, and it was another very successful one. The team of Heather Coats, Jo Conway, Dionne Jenkins and Becky Gibbs met up with Teifi RG members to target storm-petrels and passerines. The storm-petrel ringing was very successful with fifty birds captured, of which five were recaptures and the remainder new. The only passerine species moving in any sort of numbers was willow warbler, which dominated the catches in the Heligoland traps (it was too windy for mist nets). Wheatear, sedge warbler and resident wrens were among the other species captured.

Many thanks are again due to Richard Dobbins and Wendy James of Teifi Ringing Group and to the island wardens for their support.

Thanks to the Oxwich crew of Heather Coats, Richard Dann, Alex McCubbin, Lucy Rowley, Jasmine Davies and Alice Connell for company and assistance this morning.

Photos (by Richard Dann, Jo Conway and Dionne Jenkins) follow.

Owain Gabb


The first garden warbler of the year


A milky-eyed pre-moult grass snake


The Skokholm team of (L-R) Jo Conway, Heather Coats, Dionne Jenkins and Becky Gibbs


Young male kingfisher on release




The fourth treecreeper of July at Oxwich

Wheatear on Skokholm

A smart young willow warbler
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