Devon and Cornwall Wader Ringing Group

setting mist nets - Tim Frayling.jpg

Leucistic OystercatcherLeucistic Oystercatcher ringed on 29 Oct 2018We had the second mist netting session at Dawlish Warren on 29 October 2018, with a team of 11. We had hoped we would catch more than the 8 Oystercatchers and 3 Dunlin that we managed, as we set 10 nets on three sides of the island roost. A ship in the estuary with bright lights made the nets visible which may have been a factor. Nevertheless, it was worthwhile as Andrew Hoodless was able to check measurements for the harness for the GPS tags we plan to fit to Oystercatchers in the future to study their day-to-day movements.

One of the oystercatchers was very interesting, and one a few of us have seen around the Exe in the last couple of years – a leucistic bird with almost a completely white head. Thanks to all that helped – especially as some had a long journey home afterwards.

Species Ringed Retraps Controls Colour ringed GPS tagged
Oystercatcher 8 0 0 8 0
Dunlin 3 0 0 0 0

On the evening of 29 September 2018 at Dawlish Warren a team of 14 took a modest mist-net catch of 13 Oystercatcher (10 new birds and 3 retraps) and a Dunlin, but it was good to get a session under our belts. We colour-ringed another 12 birds, and was great to see that one of the retraps was ringed over 24 years ago - more details here. We learnt a lot from our first session, and feel like we can build on this and will catch a lot more in the future. The 3.7m tide was fine in the conditions we may chose lower tides in future and set more nets.

Huge thanks to Steve and the ranger team for all the help and support, particularly for providing so many of the team with chest waders. It was also great to have the Golf Club being so helpful and allowing us to drive the land rover down their track – that made life so much easier than having to carry all that kit.

Species Ringed Retraps Controls Colour ringed GPS tagged
Oystercatcher 13 0 0 12 0
Dunlin 1 0 0 0 0

Mist-netting Background

The use of mist-nets on high tides during the hours of darkness is less selective in which species are caught, but this technique provides us with  additional opportunities to catch and ring waders in the region. A mist-net catch can usually be managed with a smaller team and without the need for a specialist cannon net license holder or the preparatory work needed to reconnaisace precise roost sites and set cannon nets in advance of the planned catch tide.

Our focus on the Exe estuary is the wintering Oystercatcher population and this species is our primary target for mist-netting as we aim to catch birds flying into the high-tide roosts.

Oystercatchers are faithful to wintering sites so the birds you have seen here years ago may be the same ones now. The oldest Dawlish Warren Oystercatcher on record is at least 36 years old, last seen in Jan 2018.

If you see a bird with one of our colour rings, please use the form on this website to send us the details (ring-code, date, location, species) or you can send email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Mist-netting totals

2018 year totals

Species Ringed Retraps Controls Colour ringed
Oystercatcher 21 0 0 20
Dunlin 4 0 0 0

Grand totals

Species Ringed Retraps Controls Colour ringed
Oystercatcher 21 0 0 20
Dunlin 4 0 0 0

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