So our second week started with brunch at 11:00 hrs after a few hours sleep following our first overnight mist-netting session. We headed out to recce/scan the new waterpark (under development) and the rice paddies at Taoizini to look for both mist-netting options for that night on the paddy fields and future canon-netting options on the water park. We set nets on two rice paddies again and had another amazing night with with 299 birds caught including six Spoon-billed Sandpipers (SBS) – amazing. Back to the hotel and bed at dawn this time – strange, we are becoming largely nocturnal, but are also up during the day…
Many of us really look forward to our mist-netting sessions for waders as we so love being out on a saltmarsh at night. Setting mist nets on a marsh is spectacular in itself with tall lines of nets stretched across the landscape, but there is nothing to beat the atmosphere when it gets dark. As the light fades and then the tide comes in you start to hear the eerie sounds of waders calling as the water moves them up off the mudflats. If there is enough light you might start to see them flying over the marsh. If you are really lucky, there will also be shooting stars, phosphorescence as you walk across the marsh (feeling like Gandalf every time you lean on your furling stick), or even fireworks in a nearby town.
Friday 16 February
Carole and Cathy undertook a recce of the beaches at Snettisham and Heacham at high tide, arriving on the beach just after first light at 06.15. There was approximately 250 Oystercatchers on Snettisham Beach, a nucleus of about 150 and two smaller groups of about 50 each 100 metres either side of the main flock. A group of about 10 Oystercatchers was seen on Heacham Beach with another group of about 100 Oystercatchers at the far north end of Heacham Beach. No grey waders were seen on either beach.
This was the first field trip of 2018 for the Wash Wader Ringing Group and was the first cannon net catch by the group since September 2017. This was an extremely experienced team, with four cannon net licensees (plus one trainee,) as well as several ringers with considerable experience of both cannon netting and mist netting waders with the group. Sophie and Alyce had each been to one mist net catch previously and only Ellie was completely new to wader ringing with the group (although she had done some wader ringing with another group).
Friday 1 December
A few hardy people met on Friday evening at the fieldwork base in preparation for an early morning mist-net catch at Gedney. The small team included three people who were on the Wash for the first time. Aron and Alyce had been out on the marsh in the afternoon to plan the catch and to leave guiding sticks to help the team to find the route later in the dark. Aron and Alyce had also prepared supper for those that wanted food and plans were made for timings with a realisation that a 04.37 high tide necessitated leaving the base at midnight! The equipment was packed into three cars before the team headed to bed for a short sleep.