Oxwich Marsh Late June 2019: some heavy sessions and a few jars

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A couple of fairly busy session at Oxwich, with almost 450 birds captured. The breakdown was as follows:

Species Name
Ringed
Recapt
Total
Blackbird
5
2
7
Blackcap
9
9
Blue Tit
43
36
79
Bullfinch
2
2
Cetti’s Warbler
2
2
Chaffinch
35
12
47
Chiffchaff
18
1
19
Coal Tit
1
1
Dunnock
6
12
18
Goldfinch
56
12
68
Grasshopper Warbler
1
1
Great Spotted Woodpecker
9
13
22
Great Tit
16
23
39
Greenfinch
13
13
Reed Bunting
4
2
6
Reed Warbler
21
3
24
Robin
10
11
21
Sedge Warbler
5
10
15
Siskin
15
21
36
Song Thrush
1
1
Stonechat
1
1
Treecreeper
3
3
Willow Warbler
8
8
Wren
4
1
5
Yellowhammer
1
1
Grand Total
286
162
448

The highlights have been:

  • A yellowhammer. Although the species occurs along Cefn Bryn to the north, and is occasionally heard around the fringes of the marsh, this was only the second to be captured at Oxwich. A striking second calendar year male (in our view).
  • Our first young bullfinch of the year.
  • Good numbers of recently-fledged chiffchaff. 
  • A coal tit. We normally catch a few in the winter, but this was a young bird, which was more notable.
  • Excellent numbers of goldfinches. We didn’t really get an appreciable influx of juveniles in 2018, suggesting a poor breeding season for the species locally. Most of the birds captured were in entirely juvenile plumage.
  • A female grasshopper warbler. The bird has been caught on three occasions in 2019, initially in the Spring (assumedly shortly after it’s arrival), then on two occasions since, when it has shown an engorged and re-feathering brood patch respectively. This indicates an breeding attempt, and we hope to capture young groppers over the next few weeks. 
  • Our first young reed and sedge warblers of the year.
  • A female stonechat. Our first stonechat for 2019 after a poor year for the species in 2018.
  • Several treecreepers. We often capture young birds dispersing through the marsh during summer.
In addition, a mature female grass snake under one of our reptile mats was a real reward for branching out in our activities, while a golden-ringed dragonfly on 29 June was a good record for the site (being more of a moorland / upland species), and indicates the dispersal the species is known for. Also in evidence on 29 June were dark giant horseflies Tabanus sudeticus, and the longhorn beetle Rutpela maculata.
Gower Ringing Group members have also been out and about assisting with other projects. On the night of 29 June two groups headed out to separate locations in the valleys to target nightjar.  We successfully captured a nightjar at a location in the Afan Valley, and a second between the Cynon and Rhondda Valleys. The former was radio tagged under licence as part of Mike Shewring’s PhD study on diet and ranging in the species. 
On 30 June Jo Conway headed to Llangorse Lake, near Brecon to take part in the annual Canada Goose round up. The birds become flightless during their moult, and can be herded together for ringing using canoes.
Thanks to Heather Coats, Keith Vaughton, Wayne Morris, Emma Cole, Val Wilson, Sarah Davies, Joanne Conway, Alex McCubbin, Richard Dann, Amy Schwartz, Claudia Allen, Miquel Lurgi, Martin Georgiev, Colin Baker and Jess Ware for company and assistance.
Thanks also to Mike Shewring for allowing us to assist with some of his PhD fieldwork. 

Owain Gabb
30/06/2019

Canada geese in holding pen (Joanne Conway)
Nighjar (Richard Dann)
Grass snake (Richard Dann)
Grass snake (Richard Dann)
Grass snake (Richard Dann)
Yellowhammer (Richard Dann)
Yellowhammer (Richard Dann)
Yellowhammer (Richard Dann)
Gower RG (mainly) in action.
Golden-ringed dragonfly (Owain Gabb)
Treecreepers (Richard Dann)

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Absolutely loved reading and looking at this. Thanks for all your dedication and hard work. Wish I could of seen some of these beautiful creatures, especially the grass snake, I have never seen one. Thanks