Oxwich Marsh 7 December 2013

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Very light winds and overcast skies for the first couple of hours of the day resulted in a relatively high day-total for Oxwich.  Eighty-nine birds of eleven species were processed.  The catch was as follows: wren 1 (1), dunnock 3 (2), robin 2 (1), blackbird 3 (2), Cetti’s warbler 1 (1), chiffchaff 1, goldcrest 2, blue tit 59 (34), great tit 5 (3), chaffinch 5, reed bunting 7 (2).  The number of retrapped birds in the total for each species is indicated in brackets.
Although the catch was dominated by blue tits, which made extraction time consuming, the day total of seven reed buntings was much better than during previous sessions. 
The reed buntings included a male bird first ringed in autumn 2008, making it in excess of five years of age.  In total, 38 reed buntings have been caught at Oxwich this year, of which three have been retraps from previous years (all involving birds of at least 3 years of age).  Only one of the 34 birds ringed in 2013 has been caught again.  As there is no indication that reed bunting is abundant on the marsh, this suggests that there is considerable turnover of birds at the site.  A photo of  male reed bunting is opposite.  They are aged based on features including tail shape, feather wear, and the presence of retained juvenile wing feathers.  However, some birds (particularly females) can be very difficult.
Another relatively notable retrap was that of a four year old great tit, while the two goldcrests took the total to 20 for the year.  None of the goldcrests has been retrapped to date (following initial ringing).
It was disappointing not to catch more finches, as redpolls, siskin and goldfinch were all present in the area.  Ducks were moving around, as there was shooting in the nearby Penrice Estate: mallard and gadwall were regularly noted commuting over the marsh.  On arrival at the site, a woodcock was present.
Thanks to Charlie Sargent, Keith Vaughton and Cedwyn Davies for an enjoyable morning.
Owain Gabb
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