Well, this weekend I decided to spread my wings (pardon the unintended pun), and join up with the SCAN Wader Ringing Group in North Wales, to try my hand at wader ringing. Our first session took place on the Friday night. We met up at 8pm at Llanfairfechan, where we set out mist nets on a nearby nature reserve to catch Dunlin and Redshank. We were successful with both species, and I was able to learn the techniques of ageing as well as to ring both species. Several of the birds were retraps, but 1 of the Dunlin was especially interesting as it also carried a coloured flag. Steve, the leader of the group, thought it was most likely from a scheme in mid Wales. In addition, we also caught 1 Snipe. Ringing finished at about 1am, and we got to bed at 2am.
Saturday morning started with a 7am wake up call, and we were out by 8am. This time we set up a short distance down the coast, and set up 2 canon nets. This type of bird capture was completely new to me, and very interesting to see and take part in. After a few hours the tide had come in, and there were enough Redshanks in the catching area. This time we caught 53 Redshank and a single Turnstone. The Turnstone was ringed by another member of the group, but I was able to ring more Redshank, and also began to take a few more measurements, such as wing length, length of tarsus and toe,bill length and head and bill length. The latter measurements involved using set of callipers, which, again, was something new for me. One of the more experienced members of the group did the measurements first, and then I measured the same bird. Unsurprisingly, our measurements differed somewhat, so more practise is needed!
After an early night, I was up again at 7am on Sunday, and out to Beaumaris on Anglesey to set up the cannon nets.
Beach at Beaumaris
Unfortunately, the Oystercatchers that we were hoping to catch didn't settle in the area where we'd set the nets, so we didn't catch any. We then tried a different area in Beaumaris for some Dunlin and Turnstone, again without luck. By this time we'd lost the light and the tides had turned, so we called it a day.
As a first introduction to wader ringing, the weekend was a great success and I'll hopefully be back out with the group again in 2017.