With the moon high in the sky and bright until 4 am the only chance to get a bit of dazzling in at the moment is to get up early - very early! Yesterday I met Sarah in Aberystwyth at 2:45 having set off an hour earlier. The sky was cloudless and the moon still very bright so we killed a bit of time catching a few Dippers at one of the local roost bridges. Four birds were present and we managed to catch 3 of them (2 new and 1 2013 retrap). Afterwards we headed down to a regular dazzling site on the coast. Despite the perfectly still conditions and heavy frost we eventually managed to catch 2 Golden Plover, 2 Lapwing, 2 Woodcock and a Skylark but it was hard going as the birds were clearly using other locations for feeding now that the small puddles had frozen. In particular we didn't see a single Jack Snipe despite the fact that Brendan and I caught 3 (and flushed almost double figures) in the same fields just 24 hours earlier.
At 8am Sarah headed off to work and I met up with Brendan and we went looking for daytime ringing opportunities on the coast. Mid Wales can be pretty lifeless for small birds in the winter but we eventually found a turnip field absolutely heaving with Meadow and, bizarrely, Rock Pipits. There must have been well over 50 of each species present along with a similar number of Skylarks. Tracking down the farmer took a while but he was more than happy for us to try catching a few so we set two nets in a V shape and left a mixed pipit tape running. The pipits could clearly see the net (the Rock Pipits more so than the Meadow Pipits unfortunately) but we did eventually catch 22 Meadow Pipits and 3 Rock Pipits. As the frost melted so the birds moved out of the turnip field and headed out to the pasture fields nearby. A quick look at the thrush roost in the late afternoon showed that the large number of birds present just a few weeks ago had already moved off or found somewhere better.
Despite the relatively small number of birds caught, during the course of the day we ringed our 500th Dipper, 400th Meadow Pipit, 300th Woodcock and 200th Golden Plover of the year. Scientifically I suppose these figures are barely separable from 499, 399, 299 and 199 respectively but hey, that's just one of the small joys of being human!