Sunday, 22 January 2017

A new hide for Mallard...

Spring migrants arriving soon...and a new hide for Mallard Pond. The hide acts as a focal point for visitors whether we ring and process nearby or in the hide eg with Swallows. The photo below was taken on Saturday with the pond and reedbed frozen ...!

We first ringed at Mallard in 2009 :-
53 Sedge Warblers, 31 Reed Warblers and 90 Swallows were some of our species totals that year.
In 2010 we processed nearly 700 acros and caught 2 Aquatic Warblers..!
We have now processed c7500 birds at Mallard where we we still specialise in acro warblers and in Spring, White Wagtails. We have a Reed Warbler RAS and a colour-ringing Reed Bunting RAS based here too.
Please use the search to look in previous posts for further information and recoveries.

For those who don't know our site, another photo from a frosty Saturday showing Kingfisher Pond which is the focus and centre of our 14 net CES site.

A reminder to all TRG members,
The AGM is to be held on Wednesday 1st February...hosted by Chris in St. Dogmael's.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

2016 Totals and controls now on the blog

Totals for all of the Teifi Ringing Group sites are now available on the Ringing Totals section of the blog
2016 Totals
5,095 birds were ringed of 69 species. Including pulli and re-encounters the total was 6,626.
Much of this ringing focuses on providing information on population size, breeding success and survival through the BTO's projects CES (Constant Effort Sites) and RAS (Retrapping adults for Survival).
We will be looking at our own data for increases and decreases but one bird that has remained consistent in numbers for the last 3 years has been Kingfisher with 11 ringed in each of those years.

Details of all birds recovered and controlled in 2016 are also in the Ringing Totals section
2016 Recoveries and controls

Read the distances and direction travelled, from the bird that moved furthest, a Starling that was ringed on the Teifi Marsh and caught in Lithuania, 1735km away...

to Siskins that moved widely around the UK last winter to our West Wales feeders early in the year.

Sedge Warblers from the Teifi Marsh showed similar movements to previous years but 2016 saw our first to be caught in Ireland.

2016 saw the group continuing to grow. We now have 5 with A permits (3 of those with Trainers endorsements), 3 with C permits and 4 Trainees.
We are always keen to educate about ringing. Over the year several talks were given, a couple of groups of students were given an introduction to ringing and a television appearance too on S4C.

Over the winter when not occupied with CES and RAS or studying the migrants that pass through the Teifi Marsh, we have been keeping our trainees busy with some constant effort garden ringing, our 8th year in one garden. A chance to learn about data entry and looking up retrap histories

 while also learning about different species not often caught on the reserve like this Marsh Tit.

During the winter we are also lamping at night, catching Woodcock, Golden Plover

and other species that roost in fields.  We are continuing with whoosh netting Linnets at Mwnt, which is now our 4th active RAS project.

We would like to thank all of the landowners who give us permission to ring especially the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (Teifi Marshes, Pengelli Wood, Goodwick Moor) and National Trust (Mwnt)

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Linnet News

Back at the beginning of April, we were celebrating a catch of 13 Linnets at our then new whoosh-netting site at Mwnt. Little did we know or guess that nearly 8 months later we would be ringing our 500th new Linnet of the season at this site, exceeding our wildest expectations many times over.  This is the milestone bird, a young male fledged earlier this year:

Note the moult limit in the greater coverts, dull brown juvenile feathers with broad buff tips to the right of the arrow, and new rich brown adult feathers to the left. If only they were all so easy to age correctly!  I'll be posting again on this subject in more detail before too long.

Today's catch of 37 new birds and 8 retraps brings the year's total to 514, with 145 recaptures of 110 of them, and we're now registered with the BTO as a RAS project for Linnet, with 2016 making the first year of data.

Also whoosh-netted today was a Blue Tit, adding to an interesting collection of by-catch species comprising 21 House Sparrows, 19 Meadow Pipits, 6 Dunnocks, 2 Chaffinch, 2 Goldfinch, and singles of Robin, Stonechat, Wheatear, and Blackbird; (... still waiting for the unringed Mwnt Chough to wander into the catching area, it's been close though).

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Latest near and far

We have made the first visits to our regular wintering sites on the Preseli Hills for Woodcock and Golden Plover. Last night we did well ringing three Golden Plover but only saw two Woodcock. We have no recoveries of Goldies but we get several recaptures and recoveries of our Woodcock each year - from Russia to SW France.

We have had a couple of recoveries of  Dunlin, a recent control from Sweden (awaiting details) and an interesting Welsh movement of a Dunlin and a Knot.

Both were juvenile birds and in 13 days and 9 days respectively during September / early October  2016 both moved from the Teifi - north to the Dyfi......a distance of 63km.

See this post by Tony Cross on the Mid-Wales Ringing Group blog about recoveries of Dunlin from Ynyslas showing its importance as a migratory stop over.
Interesting Dunlins

Our Storm Petrel ringing at Mwnt continues to produce recoveries within southwest Britain.
Our latest, a movement from Mwnt in July 2015 was controlled on Skokholm in August 2016.

The map below shows the movement of a juvenile Firecrest...

A due west movement, the Firecrest ringed in Belgium in mid-September 2014 and controlled on the Teifi during late November 2014.

Sedge Warblers are one of our most studied migrants.

Details of 6 birds ringed in France have arrived, through usual west and south west locations, and 3 to Devon and Wilts. One bird which stands out is a juvenile ringed in Loire-Atlantique in September 2012, then recaptured on the Teifi in May 2016.  Calculating a minimum age of 1351 days - this may be our oldest Sedge Warbler.

One of 9 French ringed Sedge Warblers we controlled this Spring..!!!

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Costa Rica...a control from Canada, recaps and Standard Banding

Point Pelee on Lake Erie Canada to Tortuguero Costa Rica....This 1st year Veery became the first recovery of any species outside North America for Point Pelee Bird Obs....!!

The Veery was banded on 3rd Sept 2016 in Canada, a hatch year bird weighing 32.1g with a fat score of 1.
We recaptured the bird during Standard Banding at our STC site in Tortuguero on the Caribbean coast on 2nd October 2016, weighing 33.4g with a fat score of 2.

The Veery is a migrant though most of our work is providing data on resident species. Below a couple of recaptures of our more interesting and infrequently captured species. Two species from the Highlands...

This Rufous-browed Peppershrike was an adult when banded in March 2015, we recaptured this bird during October 2016, 19 months later.

We ringed this adult female Black and Yellow Silky-Flycatcher in September 2015. Delighted  to recapture her in October 2016.

Now from the Caribbean Lowlands, a Pale-billed Woodpecker....and what a handful..!

Weighing 232g, and with a 180mm wing these large woodpeckers are interesting to process. This is an adult female with band number 34, an old ring from before 2011 we are told. This is only the 2nd Pale-billled Woodpecker that we have caught, here a full picture of the bird we caught in 2012.

Still in the Lowland forests and a Hummingbird we don't see every year, a Band-tailed Barbthroat weighing 5.6g, and requiring a slightly different handling technique from the 'peckers above.

This adult male Black-throated Trogon was surprisingly a new bird at our only site where we catch this species. An interesting piece of data in itself.

Our final new species for our trip this year, a juvenile White-winged Becard.

Like the Brown-capped Tyrannulet we posted details of in October, a species of the canopy, so unusual to find one near the ground. This juvenile White-winged Becard was in a mixed feeding flock, mainly comprising of  resident Lesser Greenlets and migrant Chestnut-sided Warblers.

We leave Costa Rica tomorrow after our two months volunteering with  Costa Rica Bird Observatories.

No more sitting in mosquito filled banding locations, as Wendy above at our AERO site. Or dealing with net rounds in the Highlands at 2500m, where the effect of altitude hurts..!
Back to the Teifi next week to Redwings, a Welsh Winter....and plans to make for Costa Rica 2017.
(photos Wendy)

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Bills of the Coto Brus

Wendy and I have recently returned from six days ringing at three standard banding sites in the far south of Costa Rica, near San Vito and the Panama border. Each site has been studied for over 10 years and covered different habitats. For example one site was redundant coffee plantation and dairy pasture now developing into secondary forest. We did  band 24 species that we have never captured before, in the total species of 53 captured.

Now for some of the species......and their bills..

Fiery-billed Aracari, the endemic Aracari of Costa Rica, this bird an adult with a vicious serrated bill.

This is one of Costa Rica's 82 species of Flycatcher, an Eye-ringed Flatbill with an incredibly flat wide bill.

As a proportion of head and bill....the bill of a Thick-billed Finch is impressive.

As is characteristic of most of the Brush-Finches, the young develop the colour of their mandibles in the first few months. This a young Costa Rican Brush-Finch, a recent split and now a new endemic.

This is a close related species, the Orange-billed Sparrow, an adult with a fully developed bill colour.

Another mainly orange bill, on the common Catharus Thrush of the area, the Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush.

Blue-crowned Motmot....a short but a very powerful and strongly serrated bill on one of the larger birds that we study. This Motmot was ringed in 2009, seven years ago..!

A super long bill on this Green Hermit. The most common of the Hermit Hummingbirds we found here.

This tiny White-throated Spadebill. again a member of the Flycatcher family.

These mid-elevation forests are full of insects too. Costa Rica currently has 22 species of Wren. This is a  Rufous-breasted Wren with typical insectivorous bill.

Sharp-shinned Hawk, an uncommon migrant to the area, this a nice adult female.

The star bird of the Coto Brus..a Ruddy Foliage-gleaner ! This species has a tiny distribution in Costa Rica, basically just the Coto Brus Valley. One of the requirements of this dig a 2m tunnel nest chamber in a bank..!

Costa Rica has 9 species of Manakins. A couple of new ones for us at this elevation. This an adult male Orange-collared Manakin.

.... This is an adult male White-ruffed Manakin. Both species with a small bill for their mainly fruit and seed diet.

San Vito at 1000m nestled in the stunning valley....the Coto Brus. Our banding sites were at c1200m on the surrounding hillsides.

On day 4 we held a ringing demonstration for the local school, organised by the San Vito Bird Club.

Under a superb banding shelter....much needed in this wet climate. Even wetter than West Wales...

Friday, 21 October 2016

A Brilliant Day on the Common

Today, Molly Heal accompanied me for a ringing session on Fygyn Common. She is the third trainee with the Teifi Ringing Group and was looking forward to her visit since the boys Dai and Andrew from the group had already been and enjoyed their mix of species.

The most important determining criteria whether to ring or not is the strength of the wind. It was from the North East today, not ideal and resulted in wind chill, and a cold start a few degrees above freezing. The site being at the top of the surrounding hills and being very open and exposed means anything over about 8mph can cause difficulties.

The strength of the wind was in our favour today but at 6.00am the star filled sky worried me a little in the knowledge that when it got light and the sun started to rise it would be bright and the birds would be able to see the nets. As the sun started to come over the horizon a blanket of cloud arrived as well and altogether the conditions at this stage were now perfect.

I put up and furled 5 nets last night for a quick start this morning. The plan being three nets with Redwing sound and one with Yellow Browed Warbler/Goldcrest mix. After about an hour of daylight if the Redwing were slow I would replace two of the Redwing sounds for Meadow Pipit and the third to a finch mix in the feeder net ride and keeping the Yellow Browed/ Goldcrest mix as it was.

We arrived on site and all the nets were up and ready just before 07.00am. The plan worked well for Redwing and Goldcrest but with just one Meadow Pipit and a few finches these were disappointing.

Nevertheless as can be seen in the table below we caught and processed 69 birds over 15 species.

I mentioned on Facebook a few days ago I was in awe of the numbers of Redwings being caught over the border in England because at that stage I had not seen one, never mind catching one in the net. The morning started off well and the first round we had 9 birds and by the end of the session 14. Total for site now is 31, of these 9 were adults.

The Goldcrest above is our smallest bird but today the biggest in numbers at 27. We were probably 2 hours into the session before we caught any and at this time the air temperature had risen a few degrees. Molly felt ringing large numbers of any one species in a few hours helps to get your "eye in"  and remembering this for any future birds that may be caught. The total number of Goldcrest for the site is now 93 birds 26 of which were females 64 males and 3 unsexed that were aged 3J.

I did expect we would catch more than one Meadow Pipit having had 30 birds from previous sessions. Nevertheless it was another bird for Molly to work with.

This male Woodpecker is the first pecker to be caught since June 2015 and the 4th bird for the site. Always feisty in the net and hand

On the last net round of the morning we caught two Redpoll which are not a regular to the area. This brings the total for the site to 7 new birds all caught this year.
Molly clearly and confidently aged and sexed both birds. You can see the inner Greater Coverts have been replaced, then there is a break of un-moulted Coverts and unusually the last outer Greater Coverts have completed their moult.

A good day, 69 birds being the highest numbers caught since I started ringing here in November 2013 and 15 species as well

I asked Molly what her thoughts were of the day and also was there any particular bird she really liked.

She said "The highlight was the variety/number of birds, no one bird in particular. It was just a brilliant morning all-round, and nice to be kept busy. The Meadow Pipit was beautiful though."

Molly Heal

Full Grown

Willow Tit

Blue Tit
Coal Tit

Greater Spot Woodpecker



Meadow Pipit

Long Tailed Tit


Song Thrush


Grand Total
Total Species