30 December 2013

Out of county cannon-netting and a Dutch Curlew

With the local weather set to continue at 50mph winds and hail showers, we're not going to be doing much until the end of the year, so escaped out of county yesterday for some cannon-netting with Axe Estuary Ringing Group. Unfortunately the birds hadn't read the script and after a long (and cold!) wait we fired on the only birds that had made it across the newly-formed ice sheet in front of the cannon net: two Shelduck and a Moorhen. Just to make matters worse, the day was run as a ringing demonstration, but I hope the visitors were suitably happy with the few birds they got to see!

The assembled masses watching Greg ring his first Shelduck

The group are particularly keen to catch Shelduck as they have a long-term colour-ringing project on these birds, so catching two new birds was better than nothing. Both were juveniles, one male and one female, so it was a good opportunity to compare the sexes side-by-side.

Female Shelduck,sexed by the dull bill and pale flecking on the face
All Shelduck are also ringed with a single coded yellow ring,
remarkably similar to our own Peregrine colour rings!
On our way back we stopped off briefly outside of Truro to check a dead Barn Owl on the road and after battling through brambles (scars to prove it this morning!) and perching on top of the fence along the busy road we could see it wasn't ringed, which saved the need for a death-defying dash to retrieve the bird!

After failing to find any of our colour-ringed gulls in Falmouth, in the fading light I stopped off briefly at Devoran where a roost flock of Curlew produced this rather smart colour-ringed bird. It looks to be from The Netherlands, but we'll have to wait and see.

Thanks to Adrian Bayley for the group photos at Axe Estuary and Greg Wills for the Shelduck photos.

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