Last Sunday there was a meeting of the BTO Welsh Regional reps in the Elan Valley. Travelling up for the meeting from Norfolk were Breeding Bird Survey National Organiser Kate Risely and Senior Research Ecologist Dave Leech. As there's not a lot else in these parts to keep visiting birders entertained on a cold, dark and wet January night they had arranged through Kelvin Jones to come lamping. The night, as it turned out, was very wet and windy and as I made my way around the first site with Dave and Kate shadowing me behind the beam it looked as if it was going to be a bit difficult living up to the standard set on Kate's previous visit when we managed to ring 5 Woodcock, 5 Dippers and a Long-eared Owl!
Returning to the car empty handed having seen just 4 Golden Plovers and a few Snipe things looked a bit grim. Lucklly Paul, who had lamped the other half of the same site, was sat waiting in the car with an unringed Jack Snipe in a bird bag when we got back.
Moving on to another site nearby we again split up. By now the rain was driving pretty hard and there was surprisingly little present. This can happen at any time but particularly if a fox has been round the field just prior to your visit. Despite this we did manage to catch 2 Snipe and a Meadow Pipit between us.
As Paul, Dave and Kate ringed and processed the Snipe and Pipit I had a quick look in another field nearby which doesn't usually have much in it but amazingly 2 Woodcock were sat just a few yards from the car and despite the rowdy shouts of a few, well lubricated, passing youths, were soon being passed through the window to a couple of well satisfied visitors. Hat-tricks are usually pretty hard to come by but this winter they have been arriving thick and fast.
It is always good to meet up with like-minded devotees (even if the target species differ!) and to exchange stories and ideas. Many thanks to Dave and Kate for a great night and for the photos (despite all the well-planned product placement!).