Thursday, 21 November 2013

November update

It’s been a few weeks since the last posting and this has largely been due to a lack of ringing activity in October – a month that has a reputation for being an exciting one in the birding calendar but this year here in Pembs it was a month of strong winds, rain and not many birds. Several attempts at lamping produced depressing results, averaging a bird per night and the only two species ringed were meadow pipit and skylark. Mist-netting attempts for redwings and waders had to be aborted due to weather.  Only 20 birds were ringed, with the highlights being a teal and a little stint.

November has been more productive and a few days of calm weather have allowed mist nets to be used. John has ringed over 60 meadow pipits at his site at the Pembroke refinery, and one of the sessions was livened up when a woodlark appeared in one of the nets. In addition he ringed a stonechat, 7 redwings and 4 firecrests there last week.

The tail pattern of woodlark is diagnostic

The first woodcock of the winter was also ringed last week (by Paul), and over the current full moon period it is expected that they will arrive en masse, especially if temperatures drop further east. This year we are hoping to look at snipe in more detail, and so far 7 have been ringed together with the first jack snipe since 2010.

Snipe can be aged on their median coverts - this is an adult (I think!)

At Ty Rhyg, the only species present in any number is goldcrest and 2013 has been a good year for this species with 105 ringed between July and early November, compared to a previous maximum of 68 in 2011. A few reed buntings, chaffinches, redwings and a brambling formed the tail end of the autumn passage on the final visit of the season to this site. 

When ringing goldcrests, the ratio of 1st year to adults is so high that you start to doubt the ageing criteria, but the difference is obvious (1st W on left with sharply pointed tail feathers, adult right with rounded tail feathers). The reason why so few adults are caught is perhaps because adults remain in their breeding territory while 1st W tend to disperse, and perhaps because they are very short-lived, or a combination of both.