Tuesday, 23 August 2016

One good tern......

deserves another....

Last night David Tompkins and I had a netting session at Ynyslas to try and colour-ring a few more Sandwich Terns. This set of high tides has been a bit frustrating so far as the wind has ruled out the use of mist-nets and so we have been relying on dazzling, and terns don't dazzle!  Although there have been a few Sandwich Terns around they don't seem to be using the point as a roost and we failed to catch any on this set of tides. We did however catch two Common Terns and two Roseate Terns. These are only the fourth and fifth Roseates to be caught at Ynyslas. The previous three birds had all been ringed in the Republic of Ireland and it is almost certain that the juvenile we caught wearing a ring last night has been too. The adult it was with was unringed, and given the intensive ringing projects in operation in Ireland for this species I bet there aren't that many of them around.

A first for me was the capture of an adult Knot. It is not unusual to catch Knot in small numbers at Ynyslas at this time of year but they are invariably juvenile birds freshly arrived from their breeding grounds.

Over the set of tides we managed to ring a total of 247 Dunlin, 9 Ringed Plover, 6 Knot, 4 Oystercatcher, 2 Turnstone, 1 Greenshank, 1 Redshank, 1 Sanderling, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Common Terns and 1 Roseate Tern (plus the control juvenile). Many thanks to David, Mark Cutts and Jane for their invaluable assistance.


  1. Do you catch this number of birds by just dazzling 1 at a time? Impressive!

    1. Mostly, but occasionally two at a time! As mentioned though, the last night's catch (including the terns) was obtained with wader-nets. Terns generally aren't amenable to dazzling.

  2. Nice totals, do you have any good Dunlin/mixed lures that you use? I have copies of the Wash mixes although yet to try them out...

    1. We have been using lures whilst dazzling for the past few years and they do greatly improve catching success. For shorebirds we just use a recording of a Dunlin flock. Think it might have been obtained originally off the BT ringers' pages?

    2. Bloody spell checker!! That's the BTO Ringer's pages - just in case you were having difficulty finding them!!

    3. The lure is used to attract them closer to you? Or does it simply obscure sounds that you make yourself? (An issue I deal with a lot when I try to dazzle for snipe).

    4. A bit of both really depending on the species. For Snipe/Jack Snipe/Woodcock it is simply about masking the sound of you approaching. We have used Skylark or Meadow Pipit song and even sheep bleating with varying degrees of success.

    5. We have given the mist netting a couple of attempts in the past 10 days with some great results (using the Wash Killer Redshank tape)

      Curlew Sandpiper 1
      Ruff 2
      Snipe 1
      Redshank 20
      Dunlin 15
      Bar-tailed Godwit 2
      Black-tailed Godwit 3
      Curlew 1
      ...plus a Black-headed Gull for good measure

      You can check out the results of the first attempt here - http://causewaycoastrg.blogspot.co.uk/

    6. Looks like you have a great wader-ringing site there, look forward to hearing more in the future

  3. Any advice for your net sets for Terns? I counted at least 15 ringed
    Sandwich and Arctic Terns in my local patch yesterday plus a colour ringed Sante probably from the Ethan Estuary. There are also two Black Terns in the mix of c60/70 birds.
    I'd quite like to have a go at catching some of the ringed birds as I've seen quite a number over late summer and it would be great to know where they are coming from.
    Unfortunately the terns roost elsewhere so I'd really need an in coming tide around dusk and hope to intercept the terns as they head out of the river mouth.

    1. Blimey, most of our terns have disappeared already (not that we actually had many hanging around this year as fish numbers/fishing conditions in Cardigan Bay were poor). Ewan Weston (who makes our tern ringing efforts look positively puny) wrote an article in one of the BTO newsletters (lost track of what they are all called these days!) about 12 months back detailing the best way to target terns with mist-nets. Basically they respond very well to tapes but the nets need to be set over water (or over wet sand at least). The use of decoys can increases catches significantly. These things tend to be pretty site specific so I'm afraid the best way to see what does and doesn't work is to try it (cautiously) and find out. At our site we position nets over boulder patches just below the high tide line in the mouth of the estuary. In order to even attempt catching we need a combination of a pretty high tide and calm weather coinciding with a good numbers of terns. As you can imagine this doesn't happen too often.

      If you can find something that works for your site then it sounds as if there is a great deal of potential to get some interesting movements given the number of ringed birds you have seen already. Good luck!


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