31 Jan 2016

Dunlin and Ringed Plover - 1st SCAN trip of 2016.

Last weekend was the 1st SCAN weekend of the year. A 5.50 meet had me setting the alarm at 3.30 grabbing a quick  breakfast and driving to meet the team in the dark to set two nets in the hope of catching a sample of Dunlin. It all sounds simple but sometimes things don't work out as planned & we don't make a catch.

With the nets set we hunkered down in our allocated positions and waited for daylight and the high tide to push the birds towards the catching area.

I lay out of sight on the sand watching the sunrise over the Welsh hills ahead of me and listening to the sound of the birds beginning to move and trying to keep warm in the cold wind. Notice the SCAN radio on a lanyard around my neck that Steve used to ensure I was still awake!

After a fair bit of 'twinkling' the nets were fired and we made a reasonable catch of Dunlin wit ha few Ringed Plover for good measure. Four of the Dunlin were controls ringed at other places including this bird ringed in Poland.

Other controls came from Finland, Sweden and Norway showing once again the critical importance of international conservation efforts and not just in our own country. All birds were ringed (or had their ring numbers recorded if they were controls), aged, wing length and weight measured and total head + bill length along with bill length to feathers written down. These measurements will help determine the sex of the birds and in some case, their racial identification. Females have larger bills than males so I assume this long-billed bird is female.

Two processing teams were set up sheltering behind tarpaulins tied to a convenient fence! As is often on these SCAN days members of the public showed an interest  and the time is always taken to show them birds and explain what we are doing.
It was nice to see some of the Ringed Plover we'd colour flagged in previous seasons re-trapped. They're beautiful little birds and a pleasure to see in the hand.

A great 1st trip of the year and nice to catch up with some of the 'regulars'.