After getting to sleep at 02.30 on Friday night, we (Chris Bridge, Kane Brides, Hamza Yasim and myself) awoke on Saturday morning at 05.00 to head towards Llanfairfechan. Here we set up 3 cannon nets close to each other on the semi-tidal pools with the aim to catch Dunlin and Redshank. About an hour before high tide, birds started dropping in and before we knew it, we were sprinting towards the net to get any wet birds out of the water. The first catch, we caught 27 Redshank and a superb 68 Dunlin. We retreated out of view and it really wasnt long before a flock of Redshank reappeared near the nets and a 2nd net was fired catching a further 47 Redshank.
Processing the Redshank first, I had to wait for that wonderful goal to be complete. It was great to ring so many (74) Redshank however, with the majority of birds being juvenile birds. With such variation in moult within individuals, it was nice to be able to examine and hold so many educationally challenging aswell as extremely obvious birds.
All 74 Redshanks were ringed and then sent to the processing team doing biometrics, leaving us ringers with the wonderful task of taking Dunlin out of the keeping cages. I believe for the rest of the ringing session, the smile was not wiped off my face!
Ageing of Dunlin -Plain grey coverts = Adult
Ageing of Dunlin - Buffy worn tips to coverts = juvenile
I only got 2 and a half hours sleep, but I promise you I was so happy at this point!
Common Redshank - Another species that benefits from holding as you appreciate how pretty they are.
Later on the Saturday, we did a mist net catch at the same site where we caught 28 Redshanks (I believe only 3 were adult, the rest were juvenile), 3 Dunlin (1 recap) and best of all in terms of rarity was a juvenile Greenshank which was very impressive in the hand compared to Redshank in terms of size and brute force when wriggling. An unexpected bonus!juvenile Greenshank
They say that you should never meet your childhood heroes, but today (one of the most beautiful February days I have ever seen), to be able to be so intimate with 3 beautiful species of wading bird was possibly one of my most enjoyable birding days of all time. I absolutely loved it, even if we got back at 00.30, 19 and a half hours after I got up!
(All photos apart from the Greenshank were taken by Kane Brides, so thank you for letting me use them!)