High Tide 3.76m @ 19:51, Sunset 16:28, Rendezvous 15:00
A small team of 6 assembled at 3pm at RSPB Exminster Marshes to set around the RSPB lagoon field pools. Weather conditions were ideal, with no wind at all 0-2mph, no moon and part to full cloud. Pools were high following a prolonged wet and stormy period but set locations could still be fully accessed with wellies only, just! On arrival a while was spent helping the RSPB wardens move cows out of the field. The 15 cows we has been informed were on site, turned out to be 30 and despite some effort any attempt to move them to a different field failed. Based on this the decision was made to just set one line of 5 full-height 3 panel wader nets across the main pool in a single line running perpendicular to the train line. This was a third of the usual number due to the smaller team size and reluctance to set on either bund due to the cattle. With these all over water, it was hoped the cows would not venture near. All nets were set by 16:30 and the field vacated.
Two additional team members arrived at soon after set was complete, and the next hour was spent herding cows away from they nets until the eventually wandered off, out the way, at dusk.
As darkness fell, 3 tapes of mixed waders were turned on at 17:30 and then left until 17:45 where the first extractions started. Over the next hour the majority of the catch was taken and by 18:45, still more than an hour before high tide, over 50 birds has been caught; mainly Dunlin with smaller number of Redshank.
Robbie Phillips lead the extraction team with Chris Dee running the ringing team and colour ringing along with support from AJ. Two to four extractors were present continuously at the net for the first hour with large numbers of Dunlin coming to land on the pools, some Redshank and also the odd Black-tailed Godwit and Curlews seen once. After the initial busy period, net rounds were conducted at 30 minute intervals, with smaller numbers of Dunlin and Redshank, a Black-tailed Godwit, a Turnstone extracted, and on the final net round one Starling. The ringing team efficiently processed the birds caught with the 65 Dunlin having colour rings added; 64 new birds and a German-ringed control.
The Turnstone was a new species for the site, having never been seen using Exminster Marshes in 20 years of birding by one team member.
The site was generally busy with waders although they seemed to be heading off the marsh due to the neap high tide by the time we took nets down at 10pm and the team had packed up and left by 10:30pm.
The small mixed experience group operated very efficiently throughout and all have gained an excellent experience of wader mist netting which helps use to continue to build a strong team.
Thanks are due to RSPB for granting access to their site for this work and for their assistance and support. It is great to see numbers increasing year on year with similar effort as the pools mature.