Cannons, Ducks and Automobiles!
Another early morning, alarms set for 5:15 am to get to the site for 6:15 am, the reason? Cannon-netting - a pursuit reserved for those who tend to dream of pipes. Not many people could get their kicks from standing on the top of a bank in the freezing cold, or sat in the back of a car for hours on hours, waiting for the green light and then the bang.....followed by frantic running and when the adrenaline finally wears off, you're back to being freezing cold once again!
Not the case today though! My Dad and Ron Jackson had been baiting the site on the sea wall at Banks for a few days and with a good run of weather, then net was set the night before. In addition to the net set, Dave Fletcher was also able to make a couple of tidy catches of Twite, an added bonus for those that set. Unfortunately I had to work, but it made up for all the times that me, often with my brother Thomas, had helped set and then not been able to make the catch due to work commitments.
Back to this morning...slightly damp over night but an early test of the circuit showed no breaks, so we were all set. It was a cool morning with a steady south westerly wind, with a threat of light rain later in the morning, so we were on a deadline!
The Wigeon didn't seem interested at first, spread out over the channels, but the Shelduck, although unusually flighty were the most consistent until the resident Mute Swans got in on the act. A Greater Black-backed Gull flushed everything except the few Wigeon out of the area just as we were about to make a catch, but the birds returned shortly after. Once the Mute's moved out the area, we were left with about sixty Shelduck, one Mute Swan and fifteen-or-so Wigeon in the area. The decision was made to take the catch.
At the age of 24, I was the youngest of the small team and I was reassured that I wasn't overtaken by anyone else on the way to the net! Some of the Shelduck, a Mallard and a few of the Wigeon on the fringe managed to escape, but we caught most of what we fired on and the Swan didn't seem to let too much out of the net!
Once we had extracted all the birds, we lumped the net, cannons and the rest of the gear (some in Ron's shiney Land Rover) back to the cattle sheds. After a swift cup of tea, we processed the Wigeon, not as many as we had liked, but there is always next time! The Wigeon were displaying really decent weights, indicating they've had a decent winter.
Next came the Shelduck, the majority were adults, but we noticed we had caught a higher percentage of females than normal. Amongst the Shelduck were two retraps and three controls. One of the retraps was originally ringed by Kenny McNiff on 29/01/07 and had lost weight in the meantime, prompting rumours that all 'birds' that come into contact with Kenny are affected by weight-loss. As I said, rumours!
The other retrap was ringed by Richard De Feu on the same day, however I can come up with no Richard-related anecdotes.
So after a decent catch of 7 Wigeon, 46 Shelduck and a Mute Swan, I had to shoot into work. Don't tell my boss, I wasn't strictly honest, I wasn't sure how to ask for the morning off to catch ducks...so I lied. Sue me!
Monday, 23 February 2009
Sunday 15th Feb Ringing Report, Woodens.
An early start on a dull, cool Sunday, gaggles of Pinkies trooping over for a days feeding in the fields, the regular Buzzards up early, circling overhead. It was just me and my Dad and we had a deadline as I had tickets for the Everton vs. Villa Cup game...
Steady start, with Long-tailed tits dominating once more, a few more retraps amongst the other titmice. Suprisingly it took this long to catch the first Wren for the site, but true to Wren-form, it was a bottom shelf spinner! The northern station turned up another Treecreeper as well as a young male Great Spotted Woodpecker.
It was steady through the morning, ten new birds a round. With the finches becoming more active through the later part of the morning, we caught two Goldfinches, but still suprised by the lack of numbers in the finches, despite their abundance. The Siskin's tantalisingly close, feeding on the Alders, yet none found their way into the nets. The last net round brought another control of a Long-tailed Tit, bringing the total for the site to three.
All-in-all, a satisfying morning session and a fantastic result for the Blue Boys! 3-1!!! Hopefully over the next few weeks, the feeding stations will really establish and we can build up some decent finch numbers...
...eyes to the pliers everyone, eyes to the pliers!...
39 Ringed. 1 Control.
Blue Tit: 8
Long-tailed Tit: 14 (1)
Great Tit: 3
Great-spotted Woodpecker: 1
Updates on controls from 1st February ringing session:
V336976 Chaffinch 6F ringed at Mere Sands, Rufford, Lancashire on 21/09/08 .
BJB147 Long-tailed Tit 6 ringed at Birkdale, Merseyside on 03/06/2007.
Sunday, 1 February 2009
The first ringing session at The Woodens started in style with a total of 118 caught, 115 ringed, 3 controls. It started cold, and stayed cold for the duration of the day, with the nets up just after dawn, the strong easterly limiting us to just four nets at the newly-established feeding stations.
The first net round brought a decent tit-flock, mainly Blue Tits, Great Tits and Long-tailed Tits and optimism was high when I saw a flock of twenty-or-so Siskins feeding on the Alder cones.
Through the morning the Father went to speak with Our Father, and what ever they talked about must have paid off because I was plodding my way through a flock of thirty-or-so Long-tailed at the Alder station. A few Goldfinches, Goldcrest, Chaffinch and Treecreepers threw themselves into the mix and I was starting to feel quite pleased for myself. A Jay made a noisy appearance at the Northern station by the time the Father came back with breakfast, courtesy of the Mothership!
The flock of Long-tails threw up two controls, one of which I had ringed with my Dad at Ince Blundell on 9th October 2005! (Prompting rumours that I had kept it in my pocket the whole time!)
As the afternoon drew on we got our first Siskin of the year much to our delight, a colourful male, in amongst a small group of Goldfinches and a controlled Chaffinch.
Right at the end, as we were taking down the nets and as the first snowflakes began to fall...we got a Great-spotted Woodpecker, we'd heard her all morning and she found her way into the Northern station.
Observations of interest: Three Buzzards performing aerial acrobatics and a Kingfisher flying down the west drain.
Long-tailed Tit: 49 (2)
Blue Tit: 26
Great Tit: 14
Chaffinch: 4 (1)
Great-spotted Woodpecker: 1
Coal Tit: 1