Oxwich Marsh 26 September: an autumn sprite

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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.

Photos follow.

Owain Gabb


Kingfisher (Richard Dann)
Yellow-browed warbler (Richard Dann)


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