Oxwich Marsh 17 July 2021: a half century of reed warblers

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Perfect weather for ringing. A light north-easterly breeze at dawn became imperceptible by 08:00, and only increased at all late morning. The day rapidly warmed, and we only really caught substantial numbers of birds in the open reed bed for the first couple of net rounds.

It was the first time this year we have topped 200 birds captured. The breakdown was as follows:

The highlights were:

  • A half century of reed warblers, comprising 48 new birds and 2 recaptures. One of the two recaptures was a bird ringed in July 2016 as a juvenile, caught again in Spring 2018, but not since. A good age.
  • A comparatively small number of sedge warblers (8), were captured albeit these included an adult with a fat score of 5 (i.e. filling the tracheal pit and bulging slightly) – our first indication of return passage commencing, as birds tend to build substantial fat reserves prior to migration.
  • Some woodland wanderers, namely a treecreeper and a nuthatch, both of which occur in the marsh far less regularly than another woodland species, the great spotted woodpecker. We ringed our 19th great spot of the year at the site during the session, and have recaptured a further 28 individuals during the year to date.
  • Steady numbers of finches. We have eased over 150 siskins ringed at the site this year, and it was the best day on goldfinches in a little while. Both species move around a lot, and are a good source of controls.

Other than the relatively high total of birds captured, it was a fairly uneventful session.

Thanks to Heather Coats, Colin Baker, Val Wilson, Jo Conway, Richard Dann, Amy Schwartz and Tom Wright for company and assistance, and to Amy and Richard for photos (below).

Owain Gabb


A pristine-looking young willow warbler. Adults are typically in main moult at present and don’t look as tidy. Photo: Amy Schwartz.
A young robin in the middle of post-juvenile moult. The red breast feathers are coming through, while the head retains the scaly juvenile appearance. Photo: Amy Schwartz.
It has been a good year for whitethroats to date. This is a worn-looking adult. Photo: Richard Dann



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