Saturday, 16 March 2013

First Wash of 2013

Obviously this post title is referring to the first trip this year with the Wash Wader Ringing Group and despite the length of my straw thwarting my opportunity to ring a Greylag Goose I was looking forward to meeting up with friends that I'd not seen for nearly a year and of course, ringing some waders. I have ringed a few waders since my last Wash trip but they were predominantly Golden Plover captured whilst working as a research assistant with the RSPB in Sutherland last summer.

Saturday evening was suitable for mist-netting so two teams erected the usual layout of nets on Terrington Marsh while a glorious sunset occurred. After a fantastic dinner the bulk of the team left about half an hour after the tape lures had started playing as it has been recently observed that a large proportion birds are being caught well before high tide. After finding our way out to the nets in the estuarine darkness we started extracting birds immediately. Quite a few Black-tailed Godwits were caught and being prone to stress volunteers were required to take them back for immediate processing; seeing as I knew my way off the marsh I was one. This meant that I would soon be finding myself ringing a couple of Black-tailed Godwits and joining the processing team to take head and bill measurements of the Godwits and the many Dunlin that were caught. Oh, and to the disbelief of the Wash regulars I managed to ring a new species for me - Redshank!

 Putting the nets up around the 'E' pool.

On Sunday morning a single cannon net was set on the beach between Snettsiham and Heacham with the intention making a catch of Oystercatchers which had been seen there during the recce on Saturday morning. It was a quick early morning set and the team was briefed and in position in good time. The only slight issue was the lack of birds with just eleven being caught when the command to fire was issued. This, however, was the perfect opportunity for less experienced and new members of the team to have a go at extracting waders from a larger mesh cannon net in which birds can become quite entangled. The small catch also allowed these folk to take their time processing the birds as well as giving the chance for a few more experienced Wash regulars to have their biometric measurements checked by highly experienced lead processors.

6i Oystercatcher

On Sunday evening there was the option to try mist-netting at a new site that Aron has acquired permission for at Gedney near Sutton Bridge in Lincolnshire. The pools weren't far from the seawall but the mud was exceptionally sticky and a number of the small team slipped up, some more than once!

After a fish and chip supper the tape lures were set and we waited for the birds to arrive. The first round was quiet although two Black-tailed Godwits were a pleasant surprise. Then we found ourselves extracting a good catch of Dunlin after which high tide peaked and we took down before heading back to join Lucy and Carole who had already made a start on processing the Dunlin along with another two Black-tailed Godwits.

As the temperature dropped it was with much excitement that Lucy announced that amongst the modest catch of 36 Dunlin was a control from Helgoland. Coincidentally this was the final bird to be processed and everybody in the small team was able to get a look at the foreign ring.

Dunlin being weighed

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