Thursday, 27 February 2014

Wind? What wind? Oh, that wind…

A week in advance of the trip, the forecast for the last Wash weekend was looking poor so it was no surprise to get an email from Jacquie on Friday morning telling us not to hurry to Norfolk as we would not be going out to set nets that evening. After an horrendously wet and windy drive, I joined the other hardy souls that had laughed in the face of the elements for a delicious Thai pumpkin soup and a relaxing evening.

Instead of trying to catch in 60mph+ winds on Saturday morning, we all headed to different beaches to do some colour ring re-sighting. I went to Snettisham Pits, interested to see how it was recovering from the December storms. The sight was a sad one, with three of the four hides destroyed and obvious devastation around the reserve. The winds were the strongest I think I have ever encountered and it was a real effort to walk down to the wader watch point. We soon retreated to the only hide still standing and tried to keep our scopes still enough to see some flags. Well, we did see flags but unfortunately, the birds were too far away to read them. It was fun watching the birds having as much trouble standing still as we were! The walk back to the car park was more of a trot at times as the wind pushed us along.

The afternoon was spent doing jobs around the house and doing some ‘gardening’ along the access route to Snettisham. That evening, the wind seemed to have dropped a little and we were finally able to think about doing some ringing. We set three large mesh nets on the beach at Heacham South with the hope of catching the oystercatchers and barwits that had been on the beach during the recent recces.

At 05:30am on Sunday we headed back to Heacham, settled in at base camp, listened to the sound of oystercatchers on the beach, watched the sunrise and the pink-footed geese flying around the fields behind the beach and crossed our fingers. The recent stormy weather affected the tide and caused it to make considerably, meaning it was too high up the beach before it was light enough to catch safely. Phil took the decision to wait for the falling tide but unfortunately the birds were jumpy and spooked out of the catching area. Despite valiant efforts to twinkle the other birds on the beach, it wasn’t to be and we were soon collecting in the unfired kit.

As it was such a beautiful morning, we decided to go colour ring re-sighting at Heacham North beach and were rewarded with a very high proportion of ringed birds. As I didn’t have a scope with me, I took full advantage of the gorgeous light to take a few photographs (okay, so I sat on the beach for an hour taking pic after pic after pic) including a few of ringed and colour ringed birds. The best shots can be seen on my photography website In Nature's Image

Colour ringed turnstone

One ringed knot in there
On Sunday evening a few members of the Group stayed on to try mist netting at Gedney. They were rewarded with six birds so the weekend wasn’t a complete blank on the bird front. Let’s hope the weather is a little more kind to us in March!