22 Nov 2021

SCAN - Dunlin & Redshank

After being away for the first SCAN canon netting session of the winter I was more than happy to make the early morning trip across to North Wales to meet up with the rest of the ringing team in an attempt to catch a good sample size catch of Dunlin & Redshank. Donning enough layers to keep an Arctic explorer warm I was soon sweating walking across the marsh to the designated meeting point but knew I'd appreciate the extra layers once we'd been sitting in the same spot for a few hours! 

A team had already set the nets at 06.30 so all the rest of us latecomers had to do was get comfortable and listen to the briefing given by Richard.We could hear birds moving the other side of the embankment we were ensconced behind and Steve gave updates over the radio. 

With a boom that made a few people jump the nets were fired and we were off running to the catch site to lift the net onto higher ground and cover the birds to keep them calm whilst we extracted the catch into holding cages ready for processing. 

A great catch of 620 Dunlin and 24 Redshanks was duly ringed and processed. There were quite a few retraps from previous ringing sessions and a few controls - including two Dunlin ringed in Norway and a SCAN bird that had acquired a darvic ring in Poland! It'll be interesting to see where this bird was ringed.

Many of the birds were juveniles and these were identified by the retained juvenile feathers in the wing - not to be confused with retained breeding plumage in adults! Some were very subtle and others, such as this bird below, a lot easier with distinct buff tipped coverts visible in with the adult type with grey /white fringes.

Redshank are beuatifully marked and very understated birds. Close up the intricacies of the plumage become apparent as most of the time people see them as little brown and white waders with red legs as the fly away calling after being disturbed. Known as the 'sentinel of the marshes' they're usually the first waders to give an alarm call and fly off when something disturbs them. Again, it was good to get my eye in on ageing them as I hadn't seen one in the hand (due to Covid restrictions in 2020) since 2019!

Juveniles (Euring 3) are identified by their retained tertial(s) which are saw toothed and white edged. As usual with feathers the white parts wear more quickly and the tertials look ragged. Some birds also retain some of their juvenile inner median coverts with a white tip and dark subterminal band.

All in all a great day and the unseasonably mild weather meant we enjoyed a bit of late November sunshine.



TheTamshee said...

Hi Phil

Allan Bell, trainee ringer who attended the latest SCAN weekend at Bangor 18/19th Dec. Pretty hectic when the cannon goes off! but really enjoyed my first wader experience. Came across your blog while searching for SCAN articles of interest. Your photo's and descriptions are a good point of learning for me. Thanks.

Phil Woollen. said...

Hi Allan.
Glad you enjoyed it. Its asteep learning curve compared to passerine ringing.