High Tide 3.51m @ 22:13, Sunset 17:47, Rendezvous 16:15
We assembled a team with a range of experience at RSPB Exminster Marshes, in slightly breezy, but overcast conditions for an evening wader mist net catch. Following a dry February, the pools were not as full as previously, there was plenty of shallow water to attract birds pushed off the estuary by the rising tide. We set 9 full-height wader nets across the main pool and 6 large mesh three-panel nets along the bunds, retiring to the ringing base as the sun set.
As darkness fell the breeze dropped, but the clouds cleared to reveal a small but surprisingly bright crescent moon, so initial expectations were not great as some of the team retired to a local hostelry for food. However we deployed the mixed wader call players and soon started catching Black-tailed Godwits. This turned out to be the commonest species of the evening with 24 being ringed. Some showed signs of moulting into their brick-red summer plumage and one bird was very well advanced. We also managed to catch 19 Redshank and a small sample of 8 Duniln, which were colour-ringed as part of our ongoing study.
There had been a few Snipe on site as we were setting up, but the final check of the nets produced a single Common Snipe and a Jack Snipe, so it was good to be able to compare the two species side-by-side.
With a mixed experience team the catch rate was sufficiently controlled to allow the less experienced to develop their skills in handling, ringing, measuring and ageing waders.
An efficient take-down was followed a clean-up of equipment we were packed and away by 12:30 after a very worthwhile and rewarding evening.
Thanks are due to RSPB for granting access to their site for this work and for their assistance and support..