As the days get longer and migrant birds start to head back from warmer places, the Teifi Ringing Group have been looking back over the 2014 highlights of bird ringing on the Teifi Marshes. This reserve is a haven for wildlife on the edge of Cardigan.
This work is important because long-term monitoring of bird populations is needed in order to conserve them effectively. Ringing birds helps to find out if numbers are stable, decreasing or increasing. If there is a change in numbers, particularly a decrease, we need to know why. Conservation action can then be targeted appropriately.
In 2014, 3,267 birds were ringed on the reserve and 1039 were recaptures, many from previous years, some birds ringed elsewhere.
Sedge Warblers topped the list with 569 new birds and 133 recaptures. Many of these were migrants, using the marsh as a stopover on their way to and from their wintering grounds in West Africa.
One Sedge Warbler ringed on the marsh was caught in Senegal in January 2014, 4094 km away. Walk along the cycle track through the reserve from April and listen out for their complex song consisting of a series of irregular trills and warbles.
If you visit the marsh early in the morning in August, you are likely to find ringing in progress near Mallard hide. You would be welcome to stop and see these beautiful migrants in the hand.
Reed Warblers also sing from the reed beds but their song is more repetitive. 366 of these were ringed last year and 239 recaptures.Many return from previous years to breed in the same part of the marsh.
A long term project for the British Trust for Ornithology was started looking at survival of adults for both Reed Warblers and Reed Buntings. Reed Buntings are being coloured ringed as part of the same project so keep a look out for these in your garden. Some have been resighted around Cardigan already.
Cetti’s Warblers are often heard but not seen. A good number of 28 were ringed, a healthy population for a relatively new resident on the reserve. Other Warblers ringed in large numbers were 298 Blackcap, 75 Willow Warblers, and 352 Chiffchaff. 92 of the many thousands of Starlings roosting in the reeds by Kingfisher pond were ringed in early winter. Other less common birds ringed in small numbers were Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Woodpigeon and a Water Rail.
During evening visits to the reserve, 184 Wagtails and 180 Swallows were ringed. White Wagtails roost in the reeds on their migration north. One White Wagtail ringed by the group in April was found in Vidvikursveit, Iceland, 1730km away, 76 days later.
A Common Rosefinch was the first record for Teifi Marshes. Firecrests are uncommon but do winter here. One was ringed and another was caught that had a Brussels ring on it.
The reserve is well worth a walk at any time of the year and a visit to the Glasshouse café to try the delicious food served there is a must.
To keep up to date with bird ringing on the reserve see the regular updates on the Teifi Marshes Bird Blog Spot