Limited expectations were the order of the day due to the forecast of a moderate north-westerly wind, a bad direction for the marsh. In reality, however, it was still at dawn and the wind only picked up from 09:00. We put up a reasonable amount of net (900 feet) in the hope of a decent catch before we were curtailed by weather.
It was one of those rare days when everything went better than expected. The totals were as follows:
The highlights were:
- A yellow-browed warbler. This was our first September capture of the species, and is a relatively early record for Glamorgan. We have previously caught 21 yellow-browed warblers on the marsh (between 8 and 29 October). The bird showed a narrow, pointed tail and was presumably a first winter (albeit was recorded as of unknown age).
- A first winter kingfisher (our first since August 2017). There has been one or more kingfishers present on the marsh for several weeks. It was captured in a net we set for stonechat in a dry area of the marsh – probably the least predictable location for it, given we had other nets close to open water and in fen habitats.
- A Cetti’s warbler ringed by Ed O’Connor at Penclacwydd WWT (Carmarthenshire) approximately a fortnight before. While the distance between the two sites is only 10 km, much of this is unsuitable habitat for the species. An interesting bit of autumn dispersal; we see most of our controlled Cetti’s warblers in October and November.
- A good day total of 16 chiffchaffs. All that were possible to age with confidence were first winters.
The catch had a late autumnal feel, with no sub-Saharan migrants. While we may get a straggler, it is likely that we have seen our last sedge, reed, grasshopper and willow warblers of the year.