Oxwich Marsh early July 2022 …. and Five go Furtling

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A few relatively calm, warm weekend mornings after a long period of unsettled weather have allowed us an insight into local productivity at Oxwich.

The combined results of sessions on 3, 9 and 15 July are as follows:

Of the species in the table only the grasshopper warbler (1) and song thrush totals didn’t contain young birds. While totals of most species have been unremarkable in early July, we have caught good numbers of reed warbler for the site, suggesting a successful breeding season for them (breeding territory numbers at Oxwich are not high). Highlights have been:

  • A day catch of 48 reed warblers on 16/07/22
  • A French (PARIS) ringed reed warbler, also on 16/07. This bird was interesting in that it was behind the other adult females we caught in terms of brood patch development (all others showed brood patches that had ‘gone over’ or were feathering up whereas this bird had an engorged brood patch). We catch small numbers of foreign-ringed reed and sedge warbler, averaging about one a year.
  • A reed warbler carrying significant fat on 09/07; the first evidence of a bird preparing to move. The tracheal pit was full and the fat was slightly bulging (score 5 using BWG system).
  • A female grasshopper warbler with a brood patch. As there has been reeling throughout the season, it seemed likely that breeding had taken place again, but this goes a long way to proving it. A recently-fledged bird over the next couple of visits would make it categorical.
  • A couple of dispersing young treecreepers and a young goldcrest.

Another interesting result was one of our woodcocks from Brynmoel Farm, Upper Killay, being recorded in Russia (sadly shot). The bird was ringed at Brynmoel, on Blackhills Lane, in March 2019 and shot on 19 April 2022 in Lekalovo, Okulovskiy District, Novgorod Oblast, some 2,489 km to the east north-east. A pitiful end, but at least the bird is likely to have bred a couple of times in between.

Late June / early July also saw the second of Gower RG’s 2022 trips to Skokholm. The main focus of the trip was catching puffins to add to the long term data set on the species on the island. Furtling (in the manner in which it applies here) is not as unsavoury as it sounds, but can be painful. It involves putting your arm down a puffin burrow to extract one of the owners or their offspring. Further puffins are caught more conventionally (in ringing terms) in mist nets. Enid Blyton missed a trick.

Other activities for the gang of Colin Baker, Dionne Jenkins, Bethan Dalton, Lucy Rowley and Jasmine Davies were catching of Manx shearwaters, ringing of oystercatcher and lesser black-backed gull pulli and working the Heligolands.

As previously all were hugely thankful to the island wardens, and to Richard Dobbins and Wendy James of Teifi Ringing Group for their organisation, knowledge and support during the trip.

Photos follow.

Owain Gabb

L-R: Jasmine Davies, Bethan Dalton, Wendy James, Lucy Rowley, Dionne Jenkins, Richard Dobbins and Colin Baker
Bethan with a lesser-black back pullus
Young oystercatcher
The main purpose of the visit was to catch puffins. The strong bills and sharp claws make handling them challenging
A grey seal in one of the perfectly clear coves
Picturesque accommodation
Bog pimpernel
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