Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Seeking Sandwiches but Dunlin prove to be the bread and butter

Over the last 3 nights there has been a set of perfect autumn tides for netting terns and waders at Ynyslas. At this site, for a successful catch, the high tides need to coincide with a good passages of birds, calm weather and a new moon or thick cloud. You also need to put the nets in just the right location! 

Looking good so far - nets sets at Ynyslas for tern and wader ringing.

Rarely do all of these things combine to give perfect conditions. On Saturday night the tide was a bit too early so it wasn't quite dark enough as the birds gathered and they could see the nets. Then the good folk of Aberdyfi decided to celebrate the Bank Holiday with a big firework display on the beach right on high tide which sent everything scarpering (including my dog!!!).  On Sunday night everything was near perfect.......that is until the good folk of Borth sought a fireworks rematch and tried to outdo Aberdyfi's previous night's exploits!!! Result, more scarpering birds (although at least I'd left the dog at home this time!).  Monday night was noticeably less fireworky but just a few Beaufort scales in excess of ideal and the billowing, whistling, nets proved too noticeable in the bright moonlight. This all sounds like a catalogue of excuses for not catching anything but, despite things being far from perfect, Sunday night in particular was very successful. Relative new boy Jacques and his girlfriend Bethan along with Jane and I had a catch of 94 birds which kept us busy enough! If they had all been Sandwich Terns it would have been amazing and a massive boost to our small colour-ringing scheme but as it turned out only 4 of them were. 

This Sandwich Tern was originally ringed at Ynyslas on passage on 4th August 2011 and hasn't been recorded anywhere else since. This time it got a colour-ring so we are looking forward to more records of it in the future!

The bulk of the catch, as is usually the case though at Ynyslas, were Dunlin.

The total of new birds caught over the three nights was 137 Dunlin, 5 Ringed Plover, 5 Turnstone, 5 Sandwich Tern, 3 Sanderling, 2 Knot and an Oystercatcher. Not too bad given the moon, wind and fireworks but so much less than it could have been with just a little more luck on our side!


  1. Bloody awesome catch. Many ringing groups would be more than happy with those totals for the year! Roll on the next set of high tides, you'll have two extra helpers if you want them? :)

  2. Hello Tony,
    Sorry to trouble you, but I am trying to contact Jacques Turner-Moss to request permission to use one of his photos of a Nightjar to show its camouflage. I'd be grateful if you might be willing to put me in touch please?
    many thanks
    Jarrod Cotter
    E-mail: cotter65@btinternet.com

  3. Hi Jarrod,
    Jacques is out of the country at the moment but I will send him your email address and ask him to contact you.


Please feel free to leave a comment on any of the posts featured. All comments are moderated however so may take a short time to appear. Unsuitable comments will be deleted.