Friday, 10 June 2011

A miserable morning?

I’d like to think that over the years I have developed swallow catching at the stables into a well oiled, efficient machine. If that is actually the case, rather than self delusion, then this morning the machine was misfiring on all cylinders.

Having high hopes was my first mistake, so was having that “wake up” coffee before I left. The result was arriving at the stables too close to sunrise when the swallows were in full song and ready to leave their stables. Mistake three was not fully deciding the night before which pairs I was going to target and therefore I wasted precious time dithering.

The three pairs in the stalls were a priority so that net went up first. As I put up the next net I saw a swallow bounce form the stall net; far too much tension in the net! Attempts at slacking it off resulted in the net practically furling itself. Eventually, as the third net was being erected, as the sky filled with swallows, the heavens opened. The nets were largely sheltered but I was not and was rather dam by the time I had checked the nets; which were all empty.

Eventually I caught a male and while extracting him, his mate; both from a pair I wasn’t after this morning! But new birds none the less. While processing these, the camera decided to play silly buggers. It was needed for tail shots for a project we are working and so I spent a frustrating minute getting it to work. Secondly I could see a blatant case of net avoidance happening at the stalls.

Just to break up the text, up close and personal with a swallows tail.
Guess which sex; answers on a postcard. 

After 20 minutes I realised that the pair in the school had started to use a different exit to the one I was covering and nothing was coming out of or into the stalls. I decided to call it a morning and packing up kept an eye on the stall net which remained empty. All that was left was the ringing gear itself, so deciding the Gods of Ringing had forsaken me I packed that away too and stomped my way in a strop to the stall net. Only to find two swallows; both retraps. One of which was new for the year (originally ringed last year) and one which was confirmation of suspected colour combination (2009 provenance)! Not quiet the five new birds I was after but none the less data.

After the swallows I had planned to join other Cardiff Ringers who were out, or try out my work site but decided it was best to go back to bed.

Lessons learnt:
1) Get up
2) Plan
3) Check equipment
4) Don’t be a cocky git.

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