Next stop was one of Colin's main sites, Kessingland sewage works for some more whoosh netting. When we arrived a large number of Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits were noted feeding on the filter beds so while Derek and I were setting up the whoosh net Colin started putting up some mist nets. It wasn't long after I'd gone back to help Colin that Derek phoned to say that he'd caught a Common Gull which I was quite excited about as this would be a new species for me and besides Canadian birds, the first since last summer in Sutherland. I duly went to fetch the bird and help reset the net. When ringing the it I discovered to my surprise that these beautiful gulls are much smaller than expected.
Common Gull Larus canus
Once the rest of the mist nets were in place it wasn't long before they started catching and amazingly the haul consisted mostly of Meadow Pipits which Colin was surprised about as he has not previously noted this species at the site during winter. It would be interesting to learn where they have arrived from, particularly as local breeding is only likely to occur at low densities. Perhaps the control will provide some clues, maybe a bird originally trapped in Scotland.
Meadow Pipit Anthus Pratensis
Only one Pied Wagtail was caught although a Grey Wagtail was nice to see and being a bird originally trapped at the site in November 2012, must be over wintering here.
A return to the sewage works on Saturday morning found us arriving in the dark and soon to be falling snow. The whoosh net was set and baited and we retreated to the ringing hut to drink coffee and wait for Mike Swindells to arrive. Mist nets were set with a view to catching one or more of the Redshanks present and to be ready for the Meadow Pipits when they awoke. Mike arrived to find us chatting and Derek left to man the whoosh net hoping that the gulls had found the bait but was horrified to discover that whilst we were keeping warm they'd already been through and eaten it so off to buy some bread he went. In the mean time the Redshanks did a great job of avoiding the nets and only a handful of Meadow Pipits were caught.
Derek handed the whoosh net baton to me and despite a dozen or so Black-headed and Common Gulls having a look in there were no takers for the white bread that Derek had so considerately provided. A couple of Moorhens eventually decided they'd try it and I pulled on four catching two which considering the amount of effort that had been put it in was a bit of a let down but who can refuse a Moorhen? The net was quickly reset and I took my catch back for ringing.
The accolade of bird of the day must surely go to the Woodcock that found a mist net just as Colin and Mike were taking others down. Colin's run found Mike ringing a fantastic bird and we all updated our memories on the art of Woodcock ageing.
Mike getting to grips with Woodcock ageing
Overall it was a great of couple of days ringing with Colin and his team with a really interesting variety of species across several sites using a couple of different catching methods. Friday was the better day with more favourable weather but Saturday provided Moorhen and Woodcock so it was definitely worth going on both days despite ending up with a seriously bad cold.
Friday Totals - 24 new, (3) retraps including a control
Turnstone - 2
Black-headed Gull - 1
Common Gull - 1
Meadow Pipit - 16, (1)
Pied Wagtail - 1
Grey Wagtail - (1)
Blackbird - 3, (1)
Saturday Totals - 13 new, (2) retraps
Moorhen - 2
Woodcock - 1
Meadow Pipit - 8, (2) both from Friday
Pied Wagtail - 1
Blackbird - 1