The 16th November brought another nocturnal suitable height spring tide (3.6m at 20:53) and with it our next mist-netting session. Conditions looked favourable with light cloud and no wind, so the team were hopeful for a useful catch despite the bright moon. The target for the mist-netting sessions of juvenile Oystercatchers remained, with 8 GPS-UHF tags still to deploy for winter 2019/20.
The team assembled at 1600, met by session leader Nik Ward who was suffering with the most non-existent streaming cold imaginable (get well soon Nik). Well 1600ish…all except Ryan Burrell and Thomas Weston who were 30 minutes late, though they were let them off as they had driven straight to Dawlish from the Solent via the DCWRG kit store, as they had been cannon-netting at dawn for a tracking study with Farlington Ringing Group and GWCT.
The mist-nets were set around the island roost, in an effort to maximise the chances of catching juvenile Oystercatchers, tape lures deployed then the team waited for the tide to bring the birds to roost. As the tide rose, single Dunlin were caught, ringed and colour-marked then just before high tide, a juvenile Knot and Greenshank were both caught. The latter being the first Greenshank caught on the estuary since the restart of DCWRG last year.
Although, no juvenile Oystercatchers were caught, getting the ball rolling on our Dunlin colour-mark project was great! We have our fingers crossed that resighting data from this project will provide further information on the site use and survival of Dunlin using the Exe Estuary as with the Oystercatcher Project. Plus, we of course needed to provide our committed team of observers with more of a challenge as they appear far too successful at reading Oystercatcher colour-rings. This was the thought at least, but it did not last long with Lee Collins, one of our key ring readers, resighting Dunlin “xx//Bw(AE) – xx//Rm” the next morning. Hopefully, this resighting will be the first of many.
Thanks as always go to all those involved from DCWRG, Natural England for purchasing the colour-rings and Teignbridge Council and Warren Golf Club for their on-going support of DCWRG projects.