Friday 9 September 2016

Waders and Swallows - Take 2

After the success of last Wednesdays wader and Swallow roost catches we went for a repeat performance on Monday evening (  The prospects were a little better with high tide peaking roughly an hour after full darkness and we were a little closer to peak Swallow time in the estuary.  We had a team of five this time around with John, Ken, Siobhan, Steve and myself and the nets opened for around 7.30pm.  The evening was a scorcher with full sunshine and temperatures hitting 25°C at 7pm and although it clouded over a little, it was still a muggy 20°C on departure after 11pm.   


The Swallow tapes worked immediately and attracted in c25 birds within a few minutes and over the next half an hour birds continued to trickle in and swarm overhead totalling around 1000 birds.  The commotion stirred up the resident Water Rails with 4/5 calling all around the reedbeds.  With the lower tide we were able to set two separate 18m nets slightly further in amongst the reeds. 
As with the last attempt, a number of waders and Teal etc. were flushed out of the pools when setting up the nets with the majority not returning.  We opted for the same set up but with an extra 18m three shelf net in the other pool without a tape.  The drier weather of late had dried out the pools a little, but as I write, it is raining cats and dogs, so I don't think it will be an issue on our next visit. 
There were a few other bits and pieces around the estuary with a Grey Seal, Otter and a couple of pipistrelle bats.

Sunset over the estuary

Given the number of Swallows that we had attracted in and the number that had dropped into the nets early we had to switch off the tapes.  The big flock circled overhead while we processed the other birds and eventually settled into the reebed just before dark.  Half had dropped in a bit earlier but a bird of prey (which we didn't get a proper look at) had flushed them back up. 
We caught a total of 73 Swallows, 4 Sand Martins and a single Sedge Warbler.

Last couple of Swallows being processed

For the waders, we again had to wait for complete darkness before the birds appeared and hit the nets.  We had an initial good catch but only a few birds in subsequent rounds.  The catch was quite different from the previous with some larger species in Bar-tailed Godwit, Black-tailed Godwit and Curlew and only a single Dunlin

Black-tailed Godwit (left) & Bar-tailed Godwit

Grangemore Ringing Totals 05/09/2016

Bar-tailed Godwit              2
Black-tailed Godwit           3
Curlew                               1
Dunlin                                1
Redshank                         18
Snipe                                 1

Sand Martin                       4
Sedge Warbler                   1
Swallow                             73
Total                                 104             


We are planning on heading to Portstewart Strand on Saturday morning with another attempt at Waders/Swallows at the start of next week if we can match up the weather and tides!  The stormy blast from the south this evening is probably good news for the guys on the south coast and the islands of the east and west but it might just produce a little bit for us - fingers crossed!
There are a few nice birds around the north coast at the minute including a couple of Little Stint and two Little Gulls at Magilligan Point pictured below. 
Little Stint

Little Gulls

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