Oxwich Marsh 16 November

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A still, overcast and cool morning seemed ideal conditions for ringing.  Unfortunately no-one let the birds know.  We only caught 16 birds in approximately 4 hours.  However, as one of the birds was a firecrest, this went a long way to making up for the relative lack of activity.

The catch comprised: robin (1), great tit (3), Cetti’s warbler (1), meadow pipit (1), long-tailed tit (1), goldcrest (2), firecrest (1) and blue tit (6).

Photographs of the firecrest are below.  The bird was a male, with a wing length of 55mm and a weight of 5.3 grams.  The bird was not aged, as the tail shape was intermediate between an obvious adult (which has broad feathers with relatively rounded tips) and an obvious first winter bird (which would have had very sharp ends to the tail feathers).  A male goldcrest caught at the same time had a wing length of 53mm and a weight of 4.7 grams.  While this might sound very similar, the goldcrest was noticably smaller when the two birds were side-by-side. 


Apart from the firecrest, the only notable birds were the meadow pipit and the Cetti’s warbler (this was a retrapped bird first caught as a juvenile a couple of months before).  The length of the hind claw is useful in definitively separating meadow pipit from tree pipit in the hand.  The length noted was 15mm, slightly in excess (by 1mm) of the maximum length published in the Identification Guide to European Passerines (by Lars Svensson).  Similar pipits (the commonest being tree) have a much shorter hind claw (as well as a range of other plumage characteristics that can be used to determine them).  A picture of the pipit is below.

´╗┐Feeders and a bird table have been stocked up with millet, sunflower hearts and black sunflower, so it is hoped that within the next couple of weeks that finches, reed buntings and other passerines will start coming in.

It was nice to welcome a couple of the guys from the Cardiff Ringing Group, Martin Thomas and son Teifion who arrived early and helped us set up.  Thanks also to Cedwyn Davies, Charlie Sargent, Keith Vaughton and Heather Coats for coming along for what was a fairly quiet session.

Owain Gabb

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