Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Colour ringed Black-tailed Godwit on Skokholm

A colour ringed Black-tailed Godwit found here on 20th April had been seen on the coast to the west of Nantes, France the day before! Having been ringed as a chick in south Iceland in July 2013, this bird was subsequently seen on the Dee in October 2013, at Leighton Moss in July 2014 and April 2015, Cley in October and September 2015, Leighton Moss again in April 2016 and north Germany in August, September and October 2016.


Thursday, 13 April 2017

Satellite tagged Greenland Whitefronted Geese on the way back to Greenland.

It was a real privilege for Theresa and I to assist the team with the field work which satellite tagged the Greenland Whitefronted Geese on the Dyfi back in December 2016. A once in a life time experience as BTO ringers, given their rarity wintering in Wales.

Working as part of the GWfG Partnership with funding from the Welsh Government, a greater understanding of the GWfG whilst wintering in Wales can now be achieved, a historic moment in this conservation project. Many thanks to Carl Mitchell, Mick Green and Steve Dodd for sharing their expert knowledge and experience.

Click on the link to read more and monitor the Greenland Whitefronted Geese progress. http://telemetry.wikispaces.com/Greenfront_Wales

Michael & Theresa

Friday, 7 April 2017

Wheatear colour ringing on Skokholm

Today saw the start of a new project on Skokholm, a repeat of the work carried out here by Peter Conder from 1948 and which formed the basis of his monograph on this species. Island regular Ian Beggs is leading the project. Having arrived on the Island this morning, he had already ringed the Sugarloaf pair by this afternoon - only another 19 or so pairs to go. Although we are targeting Skokholm breeders (which are perhaps unlikely to be seen elsewhere in Pembrokeshire), we are also ringing Skokholm youngsters which perhaps will be seen elsewhere, particularly in future years. If you see a green ring inscribed in white then it is a Skokholm bird and the white three digit code will tell us who it is (you will probably need a telescope or a good camera to make out the code).


Monday, 27 March 2017

First Chiffchaff 2017

A sneaky hour with a couple of nets this morning before the wind increased and that orange disc rose too high in the sky and illuminated everything. First bird out was our earliest Chiffchaff, 12 days earlier than last year. Other notables within the hour were Blackcap, Long-tailed Tit and a Goldcrest which we first ringed on the 9th June 2016. Spring may be here but it's a bit sporadic!

Michael & Theresa

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Colour Ringed Oystercatchers

Since Autumn 2015, all oystercatchers caught in Pembrokeshire have been colour-ringed. Most of the 38 that have been ringed so far have been caught at the Gann, with six ringed on Skokholm and one at Sandy Haven. Of these, 17 have been subsequently seen again involving 44 resightings in total. The commonest scenario by far is to see birds back at the same site as they were ringed, though there is clearly a link between The Gann and Skomer/Skokholm with six individuals moving between these sites. So far only two have been recorded outside of Pembrokeshire "A1" and "04";

"A1" was ringed at The Gann on 14/03/2016 and was seen on Tiree on 13/03/2017.

"04" was ringed at The Gann on 16/10/2015 and spent the summer at Stranraer, before returning to the Gann on 11/08/2016.

"A4" was also ringed at the Gann on 14/03/2016, and was seen on Skomer on 21/07/2016 and again there on 16/03/2017.

Oystercatcher resightings from birds ringed at the Gann
There's a lot to be discovered about this declining species, and any resightings will be very gratefully received (see contact form in the side bar). The Pembrokeshire scheme has a plain orange ring over the metal on the left tarsus and an inscribed orange ring with black digits/letters reading upwards on the right tarsus, as shown below.

A0 about to be released


Monday, 6 March 2017

An Average Winter for Woodcock

Maybe it's part of getting old, but its puzzling why there is a tendency to feel that previous years were somehow better in some way, with either endless sunshine or, in the case of bird ringing, hundreds of birds, all of which were easy to catch. When asked how the season had gone for woodcock this winter, I have said on a few occasions "not very good". To be fair, there were a few nights in January which were very unproductive, resulting in only six birds ringed from five nights' effort, and this experience must have negatively influenced morale, giving a feeling of gloom. The winter of 2016/2017 is now almost at an end in terms of available lamping sessions, because most of the woodcock will have started to move back east before the next period of dark evenings from 16th March, so lets see how bad it really was.

Well, in terms of ringing totals from the central part of Pembrokeshire, this winter has been slightly above average for woodcock, but for all other species that roost in pasture at night, the totals are lower than usual, though most are typically only found in small numbers anyway - see table below. The exception is snipe which is often seen in good numbers but is very difficult to catch.

  Total Individuals caught
2016/2017
Average for winters
2008/09 to 2015/16
Fieldfare 1 5
Golden Plover 3 6
Jack Snipe 1 1
Meadow Pipit 5 10
Redwing 2 4
Skylark 2 6
Snipe 4 7
Woodcock 101 89
Total 119 128




During ringing visits counts are also made of all woodcock seen, regardless of whether they are ringed or not and this enables a more reliable comparison of the encounter rate, which is perhaps a better indicator of actual numbers because catch rate varies enormously with weather conditions and the brightness of the sky. In Pembrokeshire catching is often best when there is at least some wind, under thick, low cloud or (surprisingly) no cloud at all when every star is visible. High or scattered cloud makes a bright sky due to light pollution, especially on the horizon, and in such conditions, woodcock often fly before close approach can be made. Having said that, the average encounter rate based on 161 field visits was 0.55 per hectare, 10% above the combined average for previous winters since 2008/09 (0.50), so in this case the slightly higher field counts agree almost perfectly with slightly higher ringing totals. Not so gloomy after all!
Woodcock roosting in pasture. Photo: Myles Jenks

Thursday, 16 February 2017

deer Park and Starlings

This morning 8 gannets close inshore following porpoise  and the Skomer cliffs full of guillemots and Fulmar.  No sign of any Canada Geese around and the Deer Park itself was very quiet.

In the last few days have plotted some massive starling flocks leaving the Dale peninsula slightly SE, passing over Herbranston almost due south and have see other flocks in the Milford area all travelling south (ish).  When I put them on a map it points to a roost somewhere around Angle village, Freshwater west (Gupton), Stackpole or possibly Orielton.   They are somewhere in that area I reckon.

Also has anyone any idea where there are large Pied Wagtail roosts this winter?  The long established one on the jetty at Valero (up to 600 birds for many years) has gone missing and the Port of Pembroke one (c.200 birds in the last two years) is also vacant.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

An amazing recovery

We have just had notification of a ringing recovery for a Cormorant which apparently beats the oldest previous record by 4 years:-

Ringed on St Margarets Island on 27th June 1992 as a chick it has just been found dead at Pointe du Moustoir, Morbihan, France on 22nd January 2017.

We used to get many records from this area (usually caught in fishing nets) but almost none in recent years so this bird was 24 years and almost 7 months old compared with the 21yrs, 6months and 21 days previous oldest which was set in 1984. 

The only caveat is that the finder reported a dead bird with no idea how long it had been dead!!

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Swallows passing through

In the last four weeks we have been catching swallows in a local reedbed on one evening per week and have now processed 330 birds.  The first three catches, each around 100 birds, were comprised almost totally of juveniles with the initial catch mainly recently fledged birds.  Each week has seen the plumage of the juveniles advance and last week more birds near to completing their post juvenile moult were caught. 
In the first three weeks we caught very few adults (one or two each week) but yesterday with only 22 swallows caught there were 4 adults, all females, perhaps indicating that the breeding season for the adults is just about completed. 
Perhaps more surprisingly, even though the reedbed has been an attractive roost for swallows every evening, none of the birds has been retrapped - they have all moved on quite quickly. 
The islands have recorded a light swallow passage to date and my notes suggest that the first third of September is peak swallow migration time but these ringing notes suggest that the passage has been going on for the last month although perhaps in smaller stages and in smaller groups which we hardly recognise as migratory movement.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

A few interesting recoveries

The BTO have just sent through a few recoveries with an interesting mix :-

A young female Blackcap ringed in Milford Haven on 25th November 2014 and presumably wintering there was killed by a cat on 23rd December 2015 in Les Nouettes, Forest, Guersney in the Channel Islands and was presumably wintering there having been back to Denmark or Germany or somewhere east for the breeding season.

A Woodcock ringed by Paddy at Llanmill on 5th February 2013 was shot 373 Km north and west at Cloongoonagh, in Co Sligo, Ireland on 22nd December 2015.  As many Woodcock seem to be quite site faithful in subsequent winters this is one that definitely overshot.

A Goldcrest ringed at Grimston, on the cost in the  East Riding of Yorkshire on 12th October and possibly having just arrived there after crossing the North sea was retrapped at Pwllchrochan just 5 days later early on the 17th October having travelled over 400Km.

Other interesting recoveries are a second year Herring Gull from Caldey seen at Radipole on the south coast - very few are found outside Wales and a Manx Shearwater chick from Skokholm eaten by the Valero Refinery Peregrines