I had hoped to head out and get a few hours in with Tineke and Neil at Fulwood this morning, but when I woke at 4am, it was far too windy to consider mist netting in such an open habitat, so I headed back to bed to wait and see whether a trip to the sewage farm was on.
By 10am, the conditions started to look more favourable, although the wind was much stronger than we would have liked. Moxey was otherwise engaged for the morning, so I had to fly solo for the first two hours.
'Flicking' is Moxey's speciality and I getting pretty good at it now too. Flicking is best done with an 18m net and it is secured at one end by two guy ropes, as normal. The other end of the net is attached to one pole at the opposite end and it is at this end, that the flicking is done. I should note that you wouldn't want to use a net that you wouldn't want to pick up a few holes. The net has to be laid on the ground once you have successfuly caught a bird (or two) and so is prone to snagging on grass or concrete. Moxey has a couple of old nets that are perfect for this, although slightly worse for wear.
The first two hours yielded the majority of the Swifts, with very few hirundines staying in the net due to the wind. Intermittent drizzle brought some of the hirundines lower, and Swallows were more abundant that House Martins.
With Moxey's arrival, also came the more persistent drizzle, resulting in two, pretty moist, scousers! The Swifts largely moved off and the catch was now dominated by House Martins and Swallows, thanks to two 'static' nets, although the majority of birds were flicked. We caught a number of birds that had been ringed previously, including an old House Martin, but the bird of the day was a control House Martin - L568965 - if this is your bird, get in touch and let us know!
By 4pm, the wind had increased significantly and it was impossible to flick. The wind had probably reduced our success rate to 50% (birds hitting the net and staying in) and one could only speculate how many birds we could have caught in calm conditions.
Scouse Ringer's Fashion Tip: Blue latex gloves are going to be really popular this summer, if you don't have a pair, you should certainly get one! Aside from the fact, they are a Health and Safety requirement this year, as are the steel toed boots and hi-vis jackets! However, latex doesn't stand up to Swift's 'talons' very well.....neither do fingers in fact!
House Martin - 23 (2)
Swift - 57 (8)
Swallow - 33
Starling - 1
TOTAL: 114 (10)