So, after 5 hours sleep, it was time to get up and head to a farm near Caernarfon for a 06:45 ringing session. This was the first mist netting session, with my trainer (Steve Dodd), of the winter and so I was looking forward to getting back into net setting, extraction and processing, after a few months with very little of it.
The session went really well with 60+ birds caught. I helped Chris set a 60ft net and also got a lot of extraction practise (20+ birds). I feel my confidence with extraction is coming on well, and I managed to get some birds out that had managed to double pocket and spin etc. We got the usual species: Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wren, Blackbird, Robin, plus some other nice species: Redwing, Goldcrest, House sparrow, Nuthatch, Coal Tit.
The highlight of the morning for me was being trusted to ring and process alone, whilst Steve, Chris and Susan went to clear the nets. It feels good to know Steve trusts me to this level now.
The ringing session ended by 11:00 and then it was back to Bangor to change and get ready to drive back to Shropshire for a family bonfire party. We had just enough time to get a decent breakfast at Mike's Bites and then it was back on the road, heading for my home farm.
The weather was gorgeous, so we decided to take the A5 back to enjoy the Snowdonia autumnal scenery. I certainly wasn't disappointed but I'm not sure Chris got to appreciate it as his eyes closed shortly after Bethesda and didn't open again until Llangollen.
|Beautiful autumnal colours|
We made it home by 14:30 and, after a cup of tea and quick family catch up, were put straight to work. We went out to our plantations and collected ~50 sweet chestnuts, a bag full of pears and another of quinces. Then it was chopping wood, tidying the last 2 rooms of the house, finishing off stacking the bonfire, clearing the yard, moving the cars, lighting the open fires in the house and then all the tea lights down the drive. Needless to say, I didn't go home for a rest!
|Tea lights all the way down the drive to welcome people in|
|A simple idea - Place the tea light in a jar|
|Just one of the 3 fires inside - all the wood was chopped by Chris|
We were just about under control, with jacket potatoes, chilli con carne and Mulled wine on the go, when the guests started arriving at 18:00. Within half an hour the house was filled with 30+ people, laughing, talking and having their fill of mulled wine and snacks. The bonfire was lit soon after and everyone (that was physically able) moved outside to watch the fireworks.
|Bonfire freshly lit - lots of old junk going up in smoke!|
|Chris and Jen (my sister) enjoying the intense heat|
|The tea lit drive and garden bonfire|
|Everyone enjoying the bonfire and fireworks|
|One of about 100 fireworks set off|
After the fireworks everyone else moved inside for food but we stayed outside for a bit to put the last of the wood and brash onto the fire.
Then we went inside to eat and socialise, and things all got a bit too much for Chris and my cat, Oscar.
|Chris having a cat nap for 20mins|
Everyone finally left at about 10pm and, after a bit more catching up with my parents and sister, we finally managed to get away at 22:45. We got back to Bangor at 00:35 and eventually got to sleep at 01:00! It was an incredibly long day but well worth it!