2019 was our first year of ringing at Pwll Du, on the south coast of Gower. The site is located on the leeward side of a coastal headland, and is sheltered from the prevailing south-westerly wind. This makes it a good foil for Oxwich Marsh, which is an excellent, but hugely wind affected site.
The habitat at Pwll Du is a garden, with pond, beds of perennial plants and lawns. Around the edges the garden grades into dense blackthorn and bramble scrub, ruderal habitats, secondary woodland, and areas of bracken on the coastal slope. It is connected to ancient semi-natural woodland in the Bishopston Valley, which forms part of the Gower Ash Woods Special Area of Conservation (a site of international conservation importance).
During 2019 we limited our ringing activity to two sixty foot nets and one forty foot net. One sixty foot net was located in the garden, to intercept birds moving to a feeding station, with the other two nets running through a ride in an area of dense blackthorn scrub.
We made eighteen visits to the site over the year; our first visit was on 19 February and our last on 31 December 2019. A total of 490 unique birds were processed, with the largest catch being 75 birds on 23 December. The breakdown was as follows:
|Great spotted woodpecker||3|
The main highlights have been:
- The large number of bullfinches that have been captured. There is clearly a large population present locally, and they are by some way the commonest finch at the site. There were only seven recently-fledged juveniles in the total. The large numbers present probably reflects the quality of the habitats; mature gardens with fruit trees, dense and scattered scrub, large areas of bramble, and significant numbers of ash trees provide a range of foraging and breeding opportunities.
- Catching the odd Corvid. Three jackdaws, two carrion crows and a magpie were captured (all in the net by the feeding station). These species are not regularly ringed by the Group, so provided people with new experience and different challenges in terms of handling and ageing.
- A nice little run of goldcrests in the autumn. These included 16 on 12 October and 14 on 3 November. One of the goldcrests ringed on 12 October was subsequently controlled at Brook Manor, Buckfastleigh (Devon), approximately 172 km to the south on 20 October.
- Two firecrests. The first was captured on 3 November and the second on 25 November 2019. The blackthorn scrub looks very good for firecrest (and goldcrest) during autumn passage, and it was not unexpected to catch one. What was unexpected, however, was to recapture a bird ringed at Oxwich two weeks previously (the bird on 25 November). The Pwll Du site is approximately 7 km east of our Oxwich ringing site.
- Catching nuthatch and marsh tit. These species are not regularly captured at our other sites, and it will be interesting to build data sets on them over time.
Gower Ringing Group would like to thank Liz Newell for being so accommodating during 2019. We hope to continue the ringing effort over the coming years and build a significant data set for the site.