The weather forecast had been touch and go all week, but in the event it was warm and sunny at Oxwich with a westerly breeze that gradually strengthened over the morning. Although the wind may have influenced the size of the catch, it cannot have accounted from some considerable differences in species composition and numbers since we were last out on Thursday.
Two days ago we captured 41 sedge warblers and 22 reed warblers. Today 4 sedge warbler and 8 reed warbler were trapped, and the number of other migrants also decreased markedly. The only species to buck the trend was chiffchaff: four were trapped this morning and only two on Thursday. The overall catch was 59 (as compared with 140 on Thursday), and there were no recaptures of migrants from two days ago.
The only logical conclusion is that there has been a considerable clear out at the marsh since the last session.
Particularly welcome features of the catch were two more garden warblers, taking us to 9 this autumn, two bullfinches (an adult and a juvenile), and a few common migrants of various species. However, having captured only two kingfishers all year, and only 1 in all of 2013, three kingfishers during this morning’s session was fairly exceptional. We had seen a couple of kingfishers on Thursday, and even found a roach in one of the nets, suggesting a bird had bounced out. This session we got lucky.
Photographs of the birds are below:
|Adult male (left) and female kingfishers|
|Feet of juvenile kingfisher
The top photo shows an adult male (left) and an adult female. The male had an all black bill, bright orange feet and tarsus, an orange breast and some abrasion to the primary feathers. The female was more washed out, but also had an orange breast, feet and tarsus. The bill of the female showed some orange, but darkened towards the tip and the base.
The second photo is of a juvenile bird. These can be sexed according to whether the crown, lower back and rump are predominantly blue or blue-green (males) or green or green-blue (females). This was probably a juvenile male. The breast of juvenile (1st winter) kingfishers is orange with brown smudges (as here): the adults showed a more uniform orange breast. Foot colouration is an ageing feature of kingfishers. In autumn the adult feet are orange, while the feet or juvenile birds are brown or brown with orange patches (as above).
A breakdown for the year to date is below. It is safe to say that over 1500 new birds of 35 species was beyond expectation.
Many thanks to Keith Vaughton, Wayne Morris, Heather Coats and Charlie Sargeant for their help and company this morning.