As they were on a Christmas/New Year break in Wales and keen to see Golden Plover and Woodcock in the hand I offered to take Lee and Rachael Barber out dazzling (Lee works at the BTO processing ringing recoveries so he is a very good man to keep in with!). As it is full moon and clear skies at the moment we had to get up very early to take advantage of some forecast wet weather in order to stand any real chance of catching anything. On arrival at 4.30 am it was snowing quite heavily and the ground was pretty sodden making it difficult to spot birds and then to approach them silently. After a fair few snipe and a few Golden Plover had flushed at a good distance things weren't looking great. In the middle of the third field I spotted the first Woodcock. It was sitting pretty tight but there was a flock of sheep walking directly towards it! It became a bit of a race to see if I could get there quietly before the sheep and without causing them to stampede. With only seconds to spare before the sheep flushed the bird I managed to get there and drop the net on it. This was the first bird I'd caught in 2015 and my initial disappointment (on Lee and Rachael's behalf) on seeing that the bird was already ringed soon turned to whoops of joy as I realised the ring wasn't a BTO ring! Without my glasses on me however it fell to Lee to confirmed it as a ring from the Riga, Latvian ringing scheme! It was originally ringed by Oskars Keiss as an adult some 1,600 km away at Pape, Rucava, Latvia on 27th October 2012.
In the past 5 years we have caught over 2,000 different Woodcock and had a good many foreign recoveries but this is the first one to be caught wearing a ring from a foreign ringing scheme. After the excitement of processing this first foreign Woodcock control we tried a few more fields and managed to catch another two unringed Woodcock, a Snipe, a Golden Plover and a Fieldfare. Not a bumper catch but one that will certainly stick in the memory for a fair while! Cheers Lee and Rachael - you can definitely come again!!