Saturday, 13 September 2014

Island Bonanza!

Last weekend we sent Facey and a few banner men as emissary to Flat Holm; if for nothing else other than to see how many empty net rounds he'd managed before being found in a heap in the Gull and Leek, surrounded by empty beer bottles and covered in crisps.
But Flat Holm is an unpredictable mistress and this time the alder bushes were hopping with birds. Nets were put up and believe it or not, birds were caught. Real birds too. Chiffchaffs, willow warblers and blackcaps graced the net on Friday before a cold beer (just the err one).

Trainee (soon to be C) Erin explaining to members of the Flat Holm Society
all about Willwas. For those familiar with the Welsh Political scene, yes that
Ray in the background.

Then came Saturday - grey skies, low cloud and an invisible mainland meant the migrants stayed on the island. Nets put up the previous evening were unfurled and then more put up. The first two net rounds contained more non-gulls than were caught on Flat Holm in all of 2013. Then came the House martins, clinging to the light house; 32 were tempted by a tape lure, as was a sedge warbler. By the afternoon the sun was shining and the cloud burnt through so things slowed down.  But when the G&L opened its doors, 119 birds had been ringed.

Extracting house martins. We apologise for the smiles and  scene of enjoyment
 Sunday saw much slower progress and fewer birds were caught - rock pipit and meadow pipit gracing the nets. Wheatear refused to play ball, repeatedly ignoring our offerings of mealworm. Eventually we packed up, slightly sun kissed, finishing on 180 birds of the weekend. Hells Yeah!

So what was bird of the trip? The house martins were pretty good. But, as no megas were caught, bird of the trip went too...

As rarity is a matter of context and this is a rare bird for Flat Holm; this
individual being only the fourth to end up in a net on the island. The last
one was caught in 1998. Still, with wryneck seemingly everywhere that
weekend it would have been nice if the Gods had graced us with one.

Tad-da! Our totals for the trip, presented old school in a notebook.

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