Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Waders and wrens

Pembrokeshire is an important county for wintering waders with a combination of coastal and estuarine tidal habitats together with abundant damp pasture inland. Its mild climate means that it sometimes attracts nationally important numbers of waders, especially when the weather is freezing to the east.  Many of the species involved are well monitored by volunteers participating in the BTO's WeBS scheme, but in order to understand the reasons behind any population changes it is vital to mark individuals to help measure longevity, adult/juv survival, site fidelity and many other useful things. 

The plan this year is to considerably expand the wader ringing effort by starting colour-ringing schemes for four common species that are known to be declining - oystercatcher, curlew, whimbrel and redshank. A colour-ringing scheme for whimbrel has already been initiated by Tony Cross and the Mid-Wales team  with good numbers being caught so far and some interesting movements recorded and hopefully by adding some ringing data from Pembs a lot more will be discovered about this spring migrant.

During a recent evening of netting waders with Paul, Mike and Theresa, 36 birds were caught, 32 of which were oystercatchers, including 4 retraps ringed at the same site during the past two years and 4 BTO controls from elsewhere. In addition, 3 redshank and a greenshank were ringed.

Oystercatchers are one of the few species for which the age code of "10" can be used, though this is only a "7" 

The difference in leg colour between adult (right) and 1stW redshank is still obvious at this time of year

greenshank are always a joy to see in the hand, this is the second so far this year
This kingfisher added a bit of sparkle at Paul's wader ringing site on the estuary

On a completely different note, it is not very often that ringing wrens would be worthy of a mention on a blog but during the past few nights there has been a steady trickle of them into my house! They must be getting in under the eaves and then deciding that it would be even warmer if they came and sat by the log burner, so by about 9o'clock  there might be 2 or 3 flitting about. They are quite difficult to catch by hand, seemingly able to vanish just as you are about to touch them. Altogether 15 individuals have so far been involved, with 8 of them being adult and probably male.

The barring on the wing of an adult wren is much finer than on 1stW