Oxwich Marsh 3 August 2014: warblers in the wind

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Although the morning was reasonably successful in terms of numbers, the catch is likely to have been considerably reduced as a result of a westerly wind, which strengthened over the morning. 

We put 180 feet of net in the reedbed, 160 feet in the scrub (willow scrub on the edge of the reedbed) and a further 180 feet of net in a new area, in rush and willow dominated habitat to the west of the established nets.  The nets were up from 06:00.  The nets in the reedbed and the new net ride were taken down by 10:00 due to the gusty wind, with the nets in the more sheltered scrub taken down an hour or so later.

The catch was made up as follows:

Species New Re-trapped Total
Wren 2 0 2
Dunnock 0 1 1
Blackbird 0 1 1
Sedge Warbler 14 1 15
Reed Warbler 10 2 12
Whitethroat 4 0 4
Garden Warbler 1 0 1
Blackcap 6 1 7
Chiffchaff 0 1 1
Willow Warbler 5 0 5
1 0 1
Blue Tit 2 3 5
Great Tit 1 3 4
Greenfinch 0 1 1
Bullfinch 3 1 4
Total: 49 15 64

The highlights of the day were the second garden warbler of the year, the steady numbers of sedge warbler, reed warbler, blackcap and willow warbler, and capturing a few bullfinches, which have been hard to come by so far in 2014.  However, the most surprising capture of the day was a whitethroat.  The bird was age coded as 1J, as its primary feather were still all in pin, and its tail was only half grown.  The bird cannot have been more than a few 10s of metres from the nest.

A picture of the whitethroat is below:

Whitethroat can be double-brooded: the timing of capture of this young bird strongly indicates this has occurred here.

The session took us over 2000 birds captured on the marsh this year, of which 1,354 have been ‘new’ (and therefore ringed).

Many thanks to Heather Coats, Charlie Sargent and Emma Cole for company and assistance this morning.

Owain Gabb

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