Ringing and the Rain: mid September to late October 2019

with No Comments

The clocks went back this week, allowing us an extra hour of wind and rain in the morning – or at least this is how it has felt of late. When ringers in the flat areas east of the Severn Bridge start complaining about a lack of opportunity to get out more than twice a week, it usually means that in south-western Wales we are experiencing a truly biblical weather system. What has made it even more frustrating of late is getting ‘fished in’ by the occasional completely inaccurate weather forecast; this included one memorable morning during which we got rinsed continuously for two hours during which the BBC confidently stated the chance of rain to be 0 %. Naturally we couldn’t put any nets up – we don’t ever plan to ring when it is raining.

While we are used to unsettled periods in the autumn, six weeks of fairly continuous wind and rain has been fairly hard to take during the most exciting period of the year for migrants. The outcome has been predictable; our catch for the period is below half of that for the same date range this post covers (10 Sept – 28 Oct) in 2018, which in itself was a year with a worse than average autumn weather-wise. We have also failed to catch many ‘crests’ and chiffchaff, and have had no autumn migrants of note since a lesser whitethroat (not a common bird this far west) on 1 September.

On a more positive note, however, we have captured some interesting species despite the weather. Totals for the period, captured during visits to both Oxwich and Pwll Du are below:

Species
Ringed
Recapt
Total
Blackbird
4
5
9
Blackcap
37
1
38
Blue Tit
23
14
37
Cetti’s Warbler
9
7
16
Chaffinch
4
4
Chiffchaff
37
37
Dunnock
7
10
17
Goldcrest
50
2
52
Goldfinch
1
1
Great Tit
18
8
26
Greenfinch
1
1
Grey Wagtail
1
1
Jackdaw
1
1
Long-tailed Tit
36
10
46
Nuthatch
1
1
Pied/White Wagtail
7
7
Redwing
10
10
Reed Bunting
18
5
23
Reed Warbler
7
1
8
Robin
12
8
20
Sand Martin
2
2
Sedge Warbler
4
4
Skylark
3
3
Snipe
7
1
8
Starling
3
3
Stonechat
4
4
Swallow
55
1
56
Treecreeper
1
1
Water Rail
1
1
Whitethroat
3
1
4
Woodpigeon
1
1
Wren
12
9
21
Grand
Total
379
84
463

 

Highlights (from Oxwich unless otherwise stated) have been:

  • A water rail. We were able to sex the bird as a male based on biometric data (bill to feathers, tarsus length and wing length), with two measurements falling outside the range of between-sex overlap.
  • Eight snipe. These have included a between-winter recapture of a bird initially ringed in February 2019 and back on the marsh by late October. It would be nice to capture it again mid-winter, as this would suggest it spends the entire winter period at the site.
  • A woodpigeon. We have captured a variety of different species as a result of starting ringing near Pwll Du. These have included jackdaws, carrion crows and now a woodpigeon. Typically it was trying to escape by bloody-mindedly forcing its way onward though the net when extracted.
  • A few starlings in with a small catch of late September swallows.
  • A total of three skylark. We managed to tape lure these birds into nets in the middle of the ringing field during days with light northerly winds (when passage was apparent).
  • Our first redwings of the autumn. These have been captured using the fabled ‘Latvian love song,’ indicating the birds are likely to be north-eastern European origin. As often seems to be the case, the first birds have mainly been adults (where it has been possible to confidently age them).

We have also retrapped a nuthatch at Pwll Du, connected with a couple of reasonably-sized flocks of long-tailed tits, achieved a record year for both treecreeper (8) and grey wagtail (8) at Oxwich, and seen our usual annual mid to late autumn influx of Cetti’s warblers.

Thanks to the following who have attended over the period and endured some limited catches!: Heather Coats, Keith Vaughton, Wayne Morris, Val Wilson, Alex McCubbin, Amy Schwartz, Bethan Dalton, Colin Baker, Dionne Jenkins, Emma Cole, Miguel Lurgi, Jo Conway, Lucy Rowley, Sarah Davies, Richard Dann and Rachel Shepherd.

Owain Gabb
29/10/2019


 

Snipe (Rachel Shepherd)
Skylark (Amy Schwartz)
Skylark (Amy Schwartz)
Our eighth grey wagtail of the autumn (Amy Schwartz)
Stonechat (Richard Dann) no. 20 for Oxwich in 2019
Our first water rail for a couple of years (Amy Schwartz)
Redwing (Richard Dann)
Woodpigeon (Richard Dann)

 


 

Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
  Subscribe  
Notify of