Most of the early part of this week was taken up with preparation for a dissertation presentation on Thursday. This left little time for getting out and birding/ringing.
I gave my presentation at 09:10 on Thursday morning, which went very well, and then spent the rest of the day listening to 20 other talks. They were all very interesting, and have given me some more ideas for routes that my own dissertation can take. By 6pm I was quite shattered and actually had to have a nap. However, I found myself wide awake again by 9pm and decided to join Chris (@CJBridge) and Hamza (@HamzaYassin3) on a drag net attempt for Jack and Common Snipe at a new site on Anglesey. What a brilliant decision this turned out to be!
The drag net attempt wasn't very successful, but as Chris and Hamza marched ahead with the net, I spotted something interesting in one of the pools 30ft away. I had Chris' lamp and, keeping the eye shine in the beam, I gently crept close enough to see that it was a Little Grebe! It then floated into the reeds at the side of the pool, which meant I couldn't see it anymore. Unfortunately there was a small creek (3ft deep) between me and it. I quietly crossed this (in waders), sneaked back to the reeds I thought it was in, knelt down on the bank and then leant out over the water with the lamp. I'd got the distance just right and the grebe was there below me. It was intent on looking into the beam, so I managed to lean out a bit further and catch it from behind, before it had time to dive. This is the first bird I've ever lamped and for it to be a hand caught Little Grebe was particularly special.
The other two had made it 30m further up the marsh by this point, but a celebratory shout bought them quickly back to me, drag net abandoned! We then took this delightful little bird back to the car for ringing and processing.
|My first Little Grebe and first bird lamped !|
These are incredibly calm birds when caught and it happily sat in my lap, with no restraint, whilst I put the ring on and took full biometrics. It even sat obligingly on the scales with no pot or bird bag:
Chris had a go at lamping some snipe after this. He came very close to a Jack Snipe, but it decided to fly before he could get close enough to net it. Despite a snipeless night, we all left very happy!
On Friday I had a well earned rest from work, and spent the day birding with Chris. We finished the day off back at the drag net site, this time with Chris lamping on the beach. Remarkably, the first bird he saw and caught was a Woodcock! It was bizarre to catch this bird on a beach, but a very welcome addition to Chris' woodcock totals. He then followed this up with a lovely adult Ringed Plover.
On Saturday morning I finally gave up waiting for good weather and did my WeBS count. 20-30mph winds and driving rain didn't help whilst counting diving ducks in choppy lake water, but I did manage to get a good final count of 470 ducks (Teal, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Mallard, Goldeneye, Shoveller, Gadwall and Pochard) plus Coots, Grebes, Grey Herons and 2000+ gulls (Black-headed, Herring, Common and Great Black-backed). One particularly bad 10 minute storm had me, Chris and Hamza cowering in a hide whilst 40mph winds kept blowing the poorly latched door open. Thunder and heavy rain added to the atmosphere as all the ducks dived for cover, and the surrounding area turned white with spray from the lake.
|View from the hide. Usually you can see green fields all around.|
The rest of the day was spent doing more uni work.
Today (Sunday) was a quick trip home to my farm in Shropshire, for Sunday roast, and for my parents to meet Chris' parents. Thankfully the horrible weather eased up after lunch so we all had a chance to get out for a walk! All in all a lovely day and nowhere near as stressful as I was expecting the first parent meet to be.
I'm now back in Bangor and ready for lectures to start again tomorrow.