Oxwich Marsh 4 January 2015: a steady start

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No posts for a while, reflecting a quiet Christmas period in ringing terms, as the weather had not been conducive to getting visits in.  When we did, on 28th December, we caught a very modest 14 birds, without any species of note among them, so it wasn’t worth a blog post!
It followed that the first session of 2015 didn’t seem likely to be a bumper one or to feature anything out of the ordinary.  In the event, however, it was a little better than expected.  In a light to moderate south-easterly wind with overcast skies we caught 35 birds.  The catch was dominated by re-traps.  The breakdown was as follows:

Species New Re-trapped Total
Dunnock 0 1 1
Robin 0 2 2
Chiffchaff 2 0 2
Goldcrest 0 1 1
Blue Tit 3 7 10
Great Tit 0 1 1
Chaffinch 5 1 6
Goldfinch 3 4 7
Siskin 1 0 1
Bullfinch 0 3 3
Reed Bunting 0 1 1
Total: 14 21 35

The features of the catch were the first siskin since June 2014 (when the small breeding population on the marsh dispersed), two overwintering chiffchaff and three re-trapped bullfinch. The siskin was an adult female, and showed uniformly fresh wing and tail feathers.  There were flocks of goldfinches around, but no siskin were heard associating with them, so this was a bonus.  It was also nice to start the year with a couple of chiffchaffs, as few are reported from Gower in the mid-winter period.  The three bullfinches were all in at least their third calendar year (and therefore in full adult plumage), having been ringed in 2013.  They appeared in good condition, so will hopefully make it through until the breeding season.

It was also interesting to re-trap HNV693, a female goldcrest.  This bird was ringed in October 2014, re-trapped in November 2014 and now in early January 2015.  We get very few re-traps of goldcrests (we ringed 72 in 2014 – almost all between mid-September and mid-November inclusive), and the assumption is that they almost all move through.  This bird, however, appears to be wintering on the marsh.

Thanks to Phil Mead, Darren Hicks and Charlie Sargent for company and assistance this morning.

Some photos taken by Charlie of the siskin and two of the three bullfinches are below.

Owain Gabb

Adult male bullfinch (C. Sargent)

Adult female bullfinch (C. Sargent)

Adult female siskin (C. Sargent)


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