We managed two sessions this week despite continued unsettled, albeit mild, weather. These took us over 3,000 new birds for the site for the year.
The breakdown of species / numbers during the respective sessions can be seen in the tables below (28 October is above).
Despite higher wind speed on 28 October, the catch was larger, and there was better diversity. There are foraging flocks of mixed tits and warblers (mainly chiffchaff and goldcrest) around the marsh and in Oxwich village at the moment, and during the session we managed to connect with a couple of these. During the session on 30 October, the tits we trapped were mainly close to the feeders and not in mixed species flocks. The breakdown during this latter session had a wintry feel to it.
The highlights of the (combined) catch were the two skylarks caught in the Natural Resources Wales compound (there was substantial overhead passage of the species on 28 October), the three chiffchaffs caught on 28 October, and the 46 new goldfinches caught over the two sessions. There is a large flock of goldfinch on the marsh at the moment: 60-80 birds are often present in scrub close to the bird feeders, but the true number using them could be far higher as smaller parties are regularly noted commuting to and from the flock.
A picture of the two skylarks is below:
|The two skylarks trapped on 28 October|
Due to their moult strategy, skylarks cannot be aged on plumage characteristics in the autumn. Both adults and juveniles undergo a full post-breeding / post-juvenile moult, so all feathers are replaced and plumage is identical.
Finches cause far more ageing problems, however, as indicated in the series of photographs of a male greenfinch below:
|Wear on the primary tips of the greenfinch, indicating that these are retained juvenile feathers.|
The features noted above are among those that are studied / evaluated when ageing many of the birds we catch. Comments on the age etc. of the greenfinch are welcomed.
As noted above, the sessions also saw us move past 3,000 new birds for the year at the site. This reflects the commitment of a small group of people who have made the effort to get to the site regularly, often at short notice due to changes in the weather forecast, in 2014. It also reflects the support given to the work by Natural Resources Wales, who have allowed us to extend our trapping in to new areas of the marsh. A breakdown of the catch to date is below:
Following the session on 30 October, a yellow-browed warbler was heard calling repeatedly from scrub close to the trapping area. Results from previous sessions indicate that both yellow-browed warbler and firecrest are associated with some of the roving tit flocks in the area at present.
Thanks to Heather Coats, Charlie Sargent, Darren Hicks, Cedwyn Davies and Keith Vaughton for company and assistance over the two sessions.
All pictures by Charlie Sargent.