Saturday, 5 February 2011

SCAN Weekend - Bangor - 5th February 2011

Shropshire, Conwy and part of Anglesey (SCAN) wader ringing group planned a catch on the weekend of the 5/6th February. The week prior held some seriously strong wind here in Bangor and Friday night was probably the worst yet. As a result, the plans changed and Steve Dodd decided to try and catch Shelduck and Wigeon in the sheltered bays either side of Bangor Harbour.
We arrived onsite at 7.15 and began to set up two cannon nets alone the tide line on the beach. We retreated back to the cars after this to wait for high tide (midday) and to get dry.
Cannon net 1
Steve and I went to check on the flock of birds gathering in 'Weed Bay' next to Porth Penrhyn at a distance, where we discovered a good number of Shelduck along with a couple of groups of Turnstone, Redshank, Curlew and Oystercatcher. Unfortunately, the group was quite spread out, and there was only a handful of birds that were catchable. Before I knew it, '3...2...1...Fire!' The cannons were fired, and all hell broke loose as we all sprinted towards the net to get any birds caught in the net out of the water.
For this first catch, we caught c5 Shelduck with a bonus of 5 Turnstone and a single juvenile Redshank.
All birds were bagged (and boxed in the case of the waders) and returned to Steve's car where a group of us processed the birds and photographs were taken. This being my first wader experience, I was rather excited to ring one of the Turnstone, as well as one of the Shelduck. All 3 species in this catch were superb. Strangely enough, the juvenile female Shelduck, which was the smallest and most 'drab' bird we caught, was actually my favourite!


juvenile Redshank
Note how Turnstone is rung above tarsus, on the tibia to prevent the ring from getting abrased on the rocks.

Shelduck apparently part of the processing team!
Juvenile Male (left) and my favourite juvenile Female (right)
White tips to the first 4 primaries give away that this is juvenile
Kane Brides photographing one of the Turnstone
Cannon net 2
This was in a sheltered bay to the west of Bangor harbour, which was unfortunatly visable from the busy harbour, so at least 2 flushes of all the birds in the area were frustrating to say the least. As the tide was beginning to drop, several Wigeon were in the area, aswell as a good number of Shelduck. When the nets fired this time, we caught c10 Shelduck and a gorgeous male Wigeon. The Wigeon was the first and only bird I extracted from the net, so I felt somewhat attached to this bird, especially as I got to ring it too. The Shelduck on this catch generally appeared to be all adult with some huge male birds which were so fat, we had difficulty weighing them without going past the end of the scales!
Male Wigeon

Much larger adult male Shelduck
Release of Turnstone by Kane (above) and Wigeon by Ciaren (below)
Although it rained throughout the day, I really did enjoy my first Cannon net session and hope to be present for the next one in 2 weeks time. Thanks go to Steve and Rachel for inviting me along and to Chris 'Birdman' Bridge, Kane Brides, Ciaren Hatsell and Craig Brookes for supervising me and giving me advice throughout the day.
Thanks also to Hamza for transporting us to and from Ffriddoedd.
It is currently weather dependent, but there is hopefully another day of cannon netting tomorrow (sunday), so I hope to post again in 24 hours time!
[Update: 6th Feb] Due to strong winds, the 2nd session was called off as Steve Dodd worried about the safety issues and potential risk to birds.

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