Oxwich Marsh 24 May 2014

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A late change in the weather forecast allowed us to fit a session in this morning at Oxwich.  The rain held off until around 11:45, and an early moderate north-westerly breeze gradually lessened. 

The number of birds captured (45) was fairly typical of the last few sessions.  The breakdown was as follows:

Species New Re-trapped Total
Kingfisher 1 0 1
Dunnock 3 1 4
Robin 4 1 5
Blackbird 0 1 1
Sedge Warbler 1 0 1
Reed Warbler 1 0 1
Whitethroat 1 0 1
Willow Warbler 0 1 1
Blue Tit 1 0 1
Great Tit 2 1 3
Chaffinch 1 1 2
Greenfinch 9 4 13
Goldfinch 3 1 4
Siskin 0 6 6
Reed Bunting 1 0 1
Total: 27 17 45

The highlights were the second kingfisher of the year (a female), the first whitethroat captured in 2014 (a drab female that showed a well developed brood patch), a returning willow warbler (first captured in 2013), our first fledged greenfinches of the year and singles of both reed and sedge warbler.

The kingfisher was trapped over the bridge in the reedbed, and was sexed on the basis of the colour of the lower mandible.  In females two thirds of the lower mandible is orange, with the distal third (the third towards the head) being dark brown or black.

Female kingfisher

The reed bunting was an interesting bird, as it showed a lot of black around the head.  In the field, many birdwatchers might assume this bird was a male.  In the hand it was confirmed as a female, as it had a well developed brood patch, and a wing length towards the bottom end of the range shown by reed buntings (70mm).  A picture is opposite.

News had come in in the week of two birds that were controlled at the marsh earlier in the year.  The first, a siskin, was nice if unremarkable.  It had been ringed in Cradley, Herefordshire in March 2013, and was controlled (re-trapped) at Oxwich in March 2014.

The other control was of a dunnock.  This bird was ringed on 28 September 2009 in Creeting St Mary, Suffolk.  It was a first-winter bird when ringed, so fledged during the summer of 2009.  It was controlled at Oxwich on 1 March 2014.  During this time it had moved a distance of approximately 364km (approximately west).    As of 1 March 2014 it was therefore approximately in excess of 4.5 years of age. A nice, and unexpected ringing return for a common and widespread species.

A picture of the female whitethroat is opposite.  This was a very drab bird.  There does not appear to be territory immediately adjacent to the ringing rides this year, and as such early season captures have not occurred. 
Drinker moth caterpillar.

Many thanks to Charlie Sargent for help and company this morning.  Apologies for not letting everyone know about the session in advance, it was a very late call based on a change in the weather forecast.
Owain Gabb
24/05 /2014

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