21 Dec 2015

Redshank in the pouring rain

Talk about biblical rainfall! SCAN's recent canon netting weekend coincided with one of the wettest Saturdays I've ever been out in. After 3 hours sleep I woke up groggily and had some breakfast before heading along the A55 to Bangor in the dark.  We managed to set one small net in the hope of catching some Redshank and ended up with a reasonable catch of  174 'shanks and 5 Oystercatchers. The rain did ease off a bit but not for long.

Rachel, Steve, Molly & me spent 3 hours cooped up in a leaking hessian hide waiting for the tide to rise and push the waders within range. With all the moisture around it wasn't surprising that the firing box wouldn't work at the critical moment entailing a frantic dismantling and drying of components to get things working. It was a case of fingers crossed when the firing button was pressed but it worked!

After extracting the birds and putting them in warm dry keeping cages we were able to ring and process in the relative comfort of a nearby hide. All the Redshank were ringed, aged, moult scores taken, tarsus / toe measured, bill to feather and total head measured and finally weighed. These biometrics are important as they enable us to determine where these birds might have originated from. Some were re-traps with the oldest bird being ringed in 2002!

                             Dave checking the ring on a Redshank ringed by a new recruit.
  The weather was dark and dismal we had to use head torches in the hide to see properly!
                               Susan measuring total head with a pair of vernier calipers.
                                           Redshank tarsus / toe measurement.

Once all the birds had been processed and the data recorded it was time to pack up and head for home with all the Landrover windows steamed up. Wet clothing was hung in the garage where it was still drip drying 2 days later and I managed a couple of hours sleep before heading out for a Christmas dinner dance.

This was the last SCAN trip of the year and I'm already looking forward to next years sessions.

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