Reed warblers in the ascendancy …..

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A very light south-westerly wind and early cloud at Oxwich presented ideal conditions for ringing during the hour after dawn, but as the sun broke through catches per round steadily declined.  The nets were taken down at 09:45. 
The total catch was 25 birds: 10 reed warblers, 3 whitethroats, 3 blackcaps, 2 willow warblers, 2 dunnocks, 2 blue tits, and single Cetti’s warbler, sedge warbler and wren.  Frustration was provided by a garden warbler, which managed to escape from a net prior to extraction, and which would otherwise have been the first trapped at the site in 2013.  Garden warbler is not a common breeding species on Gower.

The photographs below show a young whitethroat on the left and a reed warbler on the right.

A drop off in sedge warbler numbers was apparent in comparison with recent visits.  The only sedge warbler caught was an adult which was carrying significant fat (fat score of 6).    This indicated it was either preparing to migrate or had stopped in the reedbed before continuing its passage south.

Many juvenile birds are now approaching the end of or have finished their post juvenile moult.  These included the whitethroats, willow warblers and a few reed warblers.  However, some resident species have more than one brood, and one of the dunnocks and one of the wrens caught today were in entirely juvenile plumage, with un-feathered bellies and disseminated body feathering.
Invertebrates around the ringing station included wall brown, common blue and small copper butterflies, silver Y (moths), a female southern hawker and marsh horsefly.  A common lizard was seen basking on some roofing felt nearby.

Thanks to Keith Vaughton and Cerian Thomas for assistance and another good session.

Owain Gabb

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