Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Knot - a lucky escape

After a fair bit of deliberation I decided to have one last trip to Ynyslas this set of tides. For one very lucky Knot the decision was life saving! Strolling along the beach at high tide, with very few birds around, I suddenly picked out a Short-eared Owl sitting at the top of the beach amid the driftwood. I started walking towards it, wondering if it was one of the two we had already caught, when, frustratingly, it flushed at close range. It was clearly carrying what looked to be a dead medium-sized wader. Following it with the beam I watched where it dropped into the dunes and headed off to have another attempt at catching it. Just as I got to where it had disappeared it lifted and flew off again this time without its catch. In a Touching the Void-esque chain of lucky events (for its victim) I thought I'd have a quick look to see what it had caught and whether it had a ring on! Lying in the grass, presumably stashed for later consumption, was a juvenile Knot, limp and seemingly gasping its last breath.

"Lucky Canutus" one very jammy Knot!

Amazingly after 30 minutes or so hung in a bird bag it was looking a lot more spritely and was duly ringed and flew off strongly on release. Just how nice would it be to get this bird recovered in Canada in 10 years time? If it happens I'll let you know.  The owl no doubt went off and ate two Little Stints instead!

It is very sobering to think that if this pair of Shorties have caught just one wader a night each, every night since they turned up last autumn, they will have eaten their way through over 700 waders (twice as many as we have caught there in the same time!) If we could find where they were roosting I guess there would be a few interesting recoveries to be uncovered in their pellets.

Our night's catch was one other Knot, 6 Dunlin, 1 Ringed Plover and a Greenland Wheatear

Adult female Greenland Wheatear

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