Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Ty'n y Caeau - 30/12/2014

For what was likely to be the last ringing session of the year given the predicted weather Chris, Cedwyn and Charlie met at Ty'n Y Caeau at first light.
We set up the the usual run of nets - 2x40 and 3x60 along the field edge.

It was pretty chilly and the wind a little stronger than we would have wished.

We were rewarded with a selection of birds in the first few rounds though the wind got up by about 11am which made it feel significantly colder.

A new species for Chris. a rather smart Fieldfare.

Plus we had a handful of Yellowhammer that we had varying degrees of difficulty sexing.

Totals for the Morning:

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Kestrel and Redwings

Dave, Heather, Cedwyn and Charlie went ringing at Ty'n-y-caeau Farm this morning. With 22 birds caught it was a case of quality over quantity again.

Redwing - 12
Blackbird - 3 (2 new and 1 retrap)
Dunnock - 2 (both retraps)
Chaffinch - 1
Greenfinch - 1
Linnet - 1
Blue tit - 1
Kestrel - 1

The redwings and kestrel were new for the farmland bird project. The kestrel would have been a ringing tick for all four ringers so Dave pulled rank! Pictures by Charlie.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Ty'n-y-Caeau 24th November 2014

This morning I joined Heather Coats, Charlie Sargent and Phil Mead before dawn at a cold and frosty field in the Vale of Glamorgan. We set up our usual 260' of net along the hedge line and by the time we had tied the final pole we had caught two song thrushes - it augured well for the rest of the session (or did it)!
During our last visit in September there had been large mixed flocks of finches perched on the wires in the vicinity of our nets however this was not repeated today and we were surviving on slim pickings of linnets and a single yellowhammer - both new species for Phil (so it was not a wasted day).



Following two hours without a bird we decided to call it a day at 11:00 with the grand total of thirteen birds as follows:


Song Thrush

Monday, 13 October 2014

Ringing Demonstration 12 October

Wayne Morris and I held a ringing demonstration today as part of the BIG Birding Day at Kenfig. The morning was spent down at the pool with 3 60' nets in 'SWPW' and 2 60' nets in 'WPS'. The demonstration was well attended and onlookers were rewarded with views of some good birds. Species included two reed buntings, two goldcrests, two chiffchaffs, Cetti's warbler, blackcap, great tit and two wrens. The birdwatching was good too with plenty of birds migrating overhead including two redwings, four redpolls, five siskins, six mistle thrushes and a constant stream of meadow pipits and chaffinches.

In the afternoon we moved near the reserve centre and put up two nets nearby. Further visitors enjoyed seeing some common birds in the hand. The aggressive nature of blue tits caused much entertainment as they pecked and tweaked my fingers during processing. 

Eager group waiting for next net round.

Female goldcrest (picture by Becky)

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Opening Session at Ty'n-y-Caeau

I joined Heather Coats and Gail Cobbold at our Autumn/Winter ringing site in the Vale of Glamorgan. Conditions were ideal with hardly a breath of wind, an overcast sky and a large gathering of mixed finches taking station on the surrounding wires at the edge of the field before foraging among the crop for breakfast.

We had set up a single line of 2 x 12 metre and 3 x 18 metre nets and soon there were linnets and goldfinches showing a close interest in the sounds we were airing. 


Our slow, steady progress was hindered by the appearance of a pair of sparrowhawks who saw an ideal opportunity for a meal and soon after, a short sharp shower brought our activities to a premature conclusion but not before we had managed to catch a lone meadow pipit.

Meadow Pipit

Our total for the morning: 


Meadow Pipit
Blue Tit
Great Tit

Friday, 12 September 2014

Ty'n-y-caeau Farm

Heather, Cedwyn and Dave went to the sacrificial crop at the Vale of Glamorgan site near Marcross to prepare the ringing ride ready for this winter's ringing.

Cedwyn did a fine job with his strimmer cutting a lawn for us to walk along. We put the nets up so that our pole holding pipes could be put in the correct places but didn't try to catch any birds because it was very windy. There weren't many birds about but we did see a peregrine fly low over the field.

The crop looked better than it has for several years with lots of sunflowers and chicory in flower. It won't be long until hundreds of finches arrive to feast on the seeds.

The project at the farm is run with the Glamorgan Bird Club and funded by Natural Resources Wales.

The morning ended with us taking in the vivid colours of the crop while eating scones with strawberry jam and cream provided by Becky.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

CES 12 Finished and Another Survey Year Completed

Dave, Heather, Cedwyn (who also took photos below) and Gale attended the reserve on 2 September to carry out the final Constant Effort Site ringing for the 2014 season. In addition to the usual 360' net run we erected two nets in 'West Pool Slack' and three in 'Glaucous Reed'. There seemed to be few birds about as we erected the nets at dawn and this was borne out by a general lack of birds caught in the nets. However, a steady trickle of captures through to the end brought us up to 46 birds for the morning.

Dave was particularly pleased to get to ring a jay, a species he hasn't ringed for several years on account that he usually hands them over to trainees to learn how to handle species more than capable of inflicting pain!

This individual was a bird that has fledged this year. The bird was aged by counting the dark bars on the outer-most greater covert. Matching up growth bar-like patterning on the primary coverts did not work as well as it appears in Svensson.

The easiest way to see Cetti's warblers at Kenfig is to put up a mist net. Two new birds were ringed and one was re-trapped. All were aged as birds fledged this year. In the next month or so all Cetti's will have completed their post juvenile moults and become much more difficult to age so we were pleased to catch two new birds.

New Re-trapped Total
Tree Pipit 1 0 1
Wren 1 0 1
Robin 4 1 5
Cetti's Warbler 2 1 3
Sedge Warbler 3 0 3
Reed Warbler 5 3 8
Whitethroat 2 0 2
Blackcap 7 0 7
Chiffchaff 2 0 2
Willow Warbler 1 0 1
Goldcrest 1 0 1
Long-tailed Tit   1 1
Blue Tit 3 0 3
Jay 1 0 1
Blackbird 1 0 1
Great Tit 3   3
Bullfinch 2 1 3
Total: 39 7 46

Thursday, 21 August 2014

CES 11 20/8/14 TREEmendous catch

I have to start with the fact that there were two new birds for me on CES 11!
Grasshopper Warbler
The first was the Grasshopper Warbler . The photo doesn't do it justice (and my fingers don't look that big in real life).

Then there was the Tree Pipit 
Tree Pipit
and not just the one, we caught 26 of them by the end of the day. Both these birds are proof that you don't need lots of colour to look stunning in the sunlight.

But having said that between those catches we had this showy little thing. All iridescent and either blue or green depending on which angle you look at it. So a bit of colour doesn't look bad either.



The session was attended by Dave, Heather, Cedwyn and Chris.
As on previous visits we augmented the 6x18m CES ride nets with 2x18m in the west pool slack(WPS), and another 3x18m in the Glaucous Reed ride (GLR).

The nets in  the scrub area was by far the most productive yielding a total of 40 birds.
GLR was a poor catch with only 11 birds, but the walk over there is good exercise (as if we needed it!)

The CES ride was again an increase on recent years with a total of 28 birds. That means we have caught almost 50% more birds than last year with CES12 still to come.

Also of note were the controls that we caught, both were Sedge Warblers, one of which had a French ring on. We will be interested to know where they were first ringed.

Totals for the day:

Saturday, 9 August 2014

CES 10 - 8/8/14

CES 10 started in excellent conditions with no wind and clear skies. Dave, Cedwyn, Heather and Chris had another new companion this week. Phil Mead had his first taste of the joys of ringing whilst up to your knees in mud.

With the extra assistance it was easy to get both the CES and additional nets up early, and we were rewarded by an excellent first few rounds, with approximately 30 birds caught by around 08:30. We added an extra net in GLR making a total of 11x18m nets. 

The session obviously quietened after this but the total for the day (67) was more than acceptable. A control Sedge Warbler turned up later, which was thought to be originally ringed on Gower.

The CES ride again provided and improved catch on previous years, continuing the much welcomed trend for this survey.


An early birds was 
this juvenile, female

Total for the day:

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

CES - Back on the Rails - 29/7/14

The CES ringing can definitely be termed a success, as with three sessions left, we have now passed the total number of birds caught in all 12 visits in each of the last two years. 

For CES 9, Heather, Cedwyn and Chris were joined by Deri a young and keen volunteer at Kenfig. It was an introduction to ringing that may well result in a new trainee for the site.

The usual CES and WPS nets were augmented this time with two more in a ride cut into the reeds further around the pool. Dave and the volunteers had to cope with both hot weather and horse flies in their efforts to cut the "new" ride. Labelled GLR (Glaucus Reed) the ride had been an integral part of the CES regime in previous years.
In total we had 180m of nets over the three locations.

Water Rail

The day started well with a new bird for Cedwyn - a Water Rail. A juvenile that was obviously not smart enough walk under the mist net and just flew into it.

The rest of the morning was mostly taken up with the usual haul of migrants. 
Some birds today proving more difficult to age than earlier in the year. This was particularly the case with a Reed Bunting that we had to admit we just didn't know and recorded it as a 2.

Reed Bunting -- plenty of dark crown feathers

The same bird - with very worn tail feathers

The same bird - with strikingly bare abdomen.

There was also a bird that was very easy to age given the rather obvious fault bar on it's tail. (see picture below not taken by Cedwyn, his are the better quality ones above)
A Fault Bar

Totals for the day:


Friday, 25 July 2014

CES 8 - 23/7/14

Cedwyn, Heather and Chris managed to fit the session in on the last possible day. A busy early start with 36 birds caught before 9am.
It quietened down seriously thereafter, with only another 9 birds caught by the end, at noon.

Total for the day:

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

CES 7 - The news is still positive - 7/7/14

Just over half way through the CES season and the good news is that numbers are still pointing towards an improvement. With 5 sessions to go we are only 30 less than the total for 2013 and statistically the second half has been better in earlier years.
Cedwyn and Chris set out the usual 2 runs of nets (6x18m in the pool ride and 2x18m in the scrub).
On the first net round a juvenile Treecreeper goes some way to proving that this species is breeding at the site.

 Another early catch was a juvenile male Kingfisher, the third caught this year in the CES rides.

A healthy number of migrants appeared in the next few rounds with one particular Reed Warbler obviously intent on keeping an eye on how we handled other birds. We were watched from the nearby Hawthorn for a good few minutes by this individual.
Reed Warbler R425558
 Other items of interest included:
Cinnabar Larva

Small Blue

 We were joined by a few work experience students from Porthcawl Comprehensive (apologies for not remembering their names) and their help was appreciated speeding up the taking down of the nets and hauling the gear back to the centre.

Totals for the day:

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

CES 6 - 30/6/2014

Charlie, Heather and Chris met for CES 6. Weather a little windier than we would have liked but at least we could go ahead.
The usual CES run of 6 x 18m nets was also accompanied by  a further 2 x 18m in the West Pool Slack. This was to alleviate the boredom of so few birds in the CES ride, and again proved quite productive.
Nothing  out of the ordinary to report but Charlie did welcome the chance to ring a number of Reed Warblers.
I did have the opportunity to take a fairly good picture of  a Dark Green Fritillary.

Dark Green Fritillary

Totals for the day:

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

CES 5 - 20/6/14

Chris, Heather and Cedwyn arrived at 05:30 to be greeted by a little more wind than was expected. Luckily it eased almost immediately and by the time we had the nets up it had dropped to almost nothing. So a perfect mornings ringing in prospect and again there was an early bird in the net before we had really got them sorted.

A good variety of birds caught through the morning although almost 50% were Willow Warblers. Good to see  a large number of juveniles, which hopefully means they are having a good year. We were able to compare a number of birds and we did notice that while most had uniformly lemon yellow breast feathers, some were distinctly streaky and could be a challenge to age later in the year if caught again.

Juvenile Willow Warbler

While we are on the subject of juvenile birds it was excellent to catch a Treecreeper which is proof of breeding here at Kenfig which has been awaited for some time.

Juvenile Treecreeper

Maybe I'm being a little anthropomorphic but I get the distinct impression that the Treecreeper does not look too impressed with being caught and photographed.

Totals for the day:

CES 4 - The Return - 12/6/14

The weather finally relented and we could fit in CES 4, even though it was a day late. Still satisfies the CES rules. The slight improvement if numbers continues, but only just. Forgot to take the camera today so unfortunately no pictures.

Total for the day:

Monday, 9 June 2014

CES 4 - Almost - 9/6/14

With time running out for CES 4 and the weather for the coming week looking less than promising, a possible window appeared for this morning.
Cedwyn and Chris rolled up at 05:30 only to find the rain predicted for 4-5am still in evidence and the wind of 6mph feeling like at least twice that.
We had little option but to call it off, and with it still raining as I write this, I at least feel vindicated.
Back to watching the Met Office site for the next opportunity.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

CES 3 - 31/5/14

With the weather being against us over the last week it was the last possible day for CES 3, but it proved to be ideal weather for ringing. The catch was not as large as we would like but the increase on 2013 totals is still providing hope of a better year in prospect.
Anticipating that numbers may be low, we supplemented the usual 6x18m net run in the CES ride with a further 2x18m nets set some distance away in the scrub. This was to ensure we did not interfere with the CES catch and to possibly vary the species count.
Cedwyn and Chris were joined today by Alex for the early part of the session and she was rewarded with a few new species. The highlight being a female Kingfisher:

A little later we caught a male. I guess they must be a bit like London buses. They had been seen regularly patrolling the ringing ride so it was only a matter of time before they would turn up.

 By this time unfortunatley Alex had left.

Our decision to put up extra nets was justified as the last round of the day brought another good bird:

Note the use of a protective bird bag (I have such delicate hands).

Totals for the day:

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Reed Warbler Recovery

We have just received this recovery information of a reed warbler we ringed back in 2007.