Maintenance weekend, June 2023

Friday 16 June

Mark did a morning recce at Heacham where he saw 300 Oystercatchers. He returned to the base and started on some of the jobs. Nigel and Jacquie were the next to arrive in the afternoon, followed by Cathy and Flo who set to work cooking up some jacket potatoes, soon to be helped by Max and Sophie when they arrived. Others arrived throughout the evening, and we ate outside before coming in for a team meeting. We discussed plans for morning recces to look for possible catch options of any summering flocks and read through the ever-growing list of maintenance jobs written on the whiteboard. Mark had already been busy starting them off earlier on, mowing the lawn, cutting and raking the hay meadow (car park) and watering the recently planted hedge (which is doing well).

Saturday 17June

Kirsty, Daniel, Flo and Sophie, leaving at 06:00, went to Heacham North (where Daniel had seen a flock of 60 Sanderling on Thursday) to recce, but unfortunately did not find anything except the Oystercatcher flock Mark had seen, which was in front of breeding Ringed Plover exclosure fencing. They visited the Pits and found about 300 Black-tailed Godwit, in a mix of summer and winter plumage, but no colour marks were seen. Five Spotted Redshank were roosting in the Pits.

Meanwhile, up in Frampton, after leaving the base at 06:15, Richard and Liam found one colour marked Black-tailed Godwit! Unfortunately, no Redshank were seen.

Back at base, the maintenance jobs got into full swing. Rob Rob, Liam, Daniel and Flo de-burred and taped up bamboo poles for mist netting. Richard, Mark and Nigel connected an armoured electric cable into the Annex so that it does not keep tripping when people are in the shower! This was a tricky job, but the team figured out an ingenious way of solving the problem. We had set out a moth trap overnight and, using collected knowledge, managed to identify all eight moths that we had caught. Ruth arrived and taught Jacquie how to post a blog on the website. Cathy and several others prepared a mix of salads, rice and pasta for the hard-working team.

Photo of a team member using a knife to de-burr a bamboo pole. He is standing outside on a concrete driveway with a silver trailer behind him. Another team member is inspecting more poles that are leaning up against the fence between this property and the neighbouring houses. Photo by Florence Turner.
De-burring bamboo poles. Florence Turner

After lunch, Kirsty, Max and Sophie checked and repaired the fieldwork chairs, using threadlock to try and stop the screws from slowly undoing, and Cathy began making new curtains for the Annex. Mark and Tim made some Mortar and Flo and Liam joined in to help re-point the patio (where the cable had been laid) and create a slope from the patio to the outside tap.

After a break for tea, some patio weeding was started, and a group diligently combed through a few cannon nets to look for holes which needed fixing and mark them with yellow tape. Guy went shopping and began a barbecue outside, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all in the evening after a tiring day.

Sunday 18 June

On an early-ish walk, Cathy and Flo heard a Corn Bunting singing from one of the fields beyond the base; a nice way to start the day. Richard set to work clearing the front porch for its eventual renewal, the patio weeding was continued and then we gathered for a morning team meeting to go over the days most important tasks. And so, Nigel led a brilliant net-mending workshop and, trained up, Liam, David, Daniel, Rob Rob and Flo began fixing the holes. It was very relaxing, and they listened to the cricket all the while. David had arrived today with Skye, and Ian and James also made it for the day. Meanwhile, Mark got going with fixing the chain link fence between the patio and the adjacent house, and Jacquie and Cathy checked the ring supplies.

A group of people sitting outside mending holes in a cannon net which is draped over their knees. Photo by Cathy Ryden.
Mending holes in a cannon net. Cathy Ryden

Throughout the afternoon various members of the team began to depart. Suddenly, it began to rain (finally!). The nets, sprawled out across the patio, were picked up and hauled into the dry equipment store. Liam, David and Flo worked as a team to repair one last big hole in a net while Nigel observed, remarking how nice it was to just watch, and that he’d never before seen one hole being mended simultaneously by three people!

Soon it was time to pack away. It was all-in-all a very successful maintenance weekend, with many very useful tasks completed. A big well done to everyone for all your efforts and for the great teamwork throughout the whole weekend which makes these trips so enjoyable.

Thanks to Florence Turner for writing this report. Cover photo by Florence Turner.