Oxwich Marsh 11 January

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A belated start to the ringing year due to a long spell of unsettled weather.  However, the weather on the morning of 11 January was good, with a very light north-westerly wind and clear skies.  The latter probably influenced the catch (as the nets became more visible in the sunlight), which was steady as opposed to spectacular.  The most welcome element of it, however, was the number of reed buntings caught (a male is shown opposite – it can be seen that the black head typical of breeding plumage is gradually wearing in).  There is a long-running data set for the species from the marsh, and there have been a few notable controls (birds re-captured at other location – indicating the nature of their movements).

In total, 44 birds were caught.  The breakdown of species was as follows: wren 1 (1), dunnock 1 (1), robin 1 (1), goldcrest 2 (1), blue tit 22 (14), chaffinch 5 (0), greenfinch 2 (0), reed bunting 10 (3).  The proportion of the birds caught that were re-traps from previous sessions / years is indicated in brackets. One of the blue tits caught had been ringed 4 years and 5 months previously.

Greenfinches can be sexed based on the pattern of yellow in the wing and tail feathers.  The photo opposite shows the wing of a (first winter) female, while that below is that of a (first winter) male.  It can be seen that in the wing of the female, the yellow on the leading edge of the primary feathers does not extend to the shaft.  In the male, the equivalent feathers have yellow right up to the shaft (and the yellow is more extensive).

Overall, it was an average start to the year, with a reasonable catch but nothing unexpected within it.  Hopefully, however, it leaves us on course to beat last year’s reed bunting total of 36 new birds and 40 (unique) birds (taking retraps into account).

Thanks to Charlie Sargent for coming along this morning.

Owain Gabb

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