Tuesday 8th August
Part of team met at 4pm OSH to collect equipment before travelling around to Lincolnshire. Went straight out to marsh and, after high tide, set a clap net pair out from the bend in the seawall at Leverton Northern pumping station. Team went off to village hall and unloaded before quick introduction session, discussion about following morning’s plans and bed.
Wednesday 9th August
AM Reccee: SJW - continued to observe the marsh after the catch was made. There were large flocks of birds north on the saltmarsh and grey and golden plover were coming off the marsh onto a cabbage field already even with the relatively low height of tide.
Up at 03.45 with base camp on the marsh in position by 05.15. Hide party in position by 05.30 ie 1¼ hours before tide. Curlew began to land in the catching area building to 24 and joined by 3 bar-tailed godwits before they lifted and circled. These birds landed again and the decision was taken to fire both nets. One corner of the net did not come out square, which cost us a few birds. However, we caught 21 Curlew and 1 Bar-tailed godwit, and made our first real saltmarsh catch on this side of The Wash. The catch was taken just after 06:00 well before tide and was an entirely dry catch. All birds and equipment were removed from the marsh and birds were ringed and processed behind the seawall.
|Species||New||Control / Retrap||Totals|
After the birds were released, the team returned to base while SLD and SGD recceed along the seawall to Freiston identifying a few potential areas to try saltmarsh catching.
PM Set 2 nets on cabbage field where grey plovers seen that morning, ready for Thurs am. Set and manned a clap net pair on strimmed saltmarsh in the vicinity of where SJW saw the birds that morning. Hot dinner at the seawall arrived just in time for base camp to eat before being sent out to get into position, KAC’s ‘meals on wheels’ unfortunately getting lost and driving most of the farm tracks within a 2 mile radius! Vehicle used as hide, while base camp was on saltmarsh. Plenty of curlew godwit & knot around, but the birds stuck to the tide edge rather than coming further inland to the catching area. At top of tide flock within 30m of area, but birds still didn’t respond to decoys (catching area also flooded). Lifted nets, and set two narrow full nets on seawall at Butterwick.
Thursday 10th August
TMT - found field of medium sized cabbages containing 100’s curlew & 1000 barwit at Wainfleet, this field had a 26m grass margin at seaward end. Also 700 oyks on young cabbages by Control Tower, 1000 grey plover on young cabbages inland and slightly further south.
SLD - found no birds and no suitable fields anywhere behind Freiston Shore. Confirmed that the birds flooded out at high tide from the realignment had not simply flipped onto the lagoon, assume they have gone to Frampton.
Up at 04.15 and SGD prepared for imminent TV stardom by shaving…! The team manned two different sets. The “Sisterhood”(all girl-team), joined by 3 from the Gib Point course, were at the seawall hoping for a redshank catch. Significant numbers of redshank were already roosting in the Freiston realignment (mostly along the breach edges) by the time we got into position at 05.30 having set decoys and cables. More birds flocked into the Freiston area until it was flooded out when they headed south to Frampton. There were very few birds obvious on the marsh or spread along the base of the seawall. Initially birds came onto the base of the seawall south of the nets so SLD tried twinkling on foot. The peak count of birds in front of the catching area were 10 curlew, a couple of oystercatcher and redshank. More birds were north of the nets so KAC tried a vehicle twinkle along the top of the seawall. Unfortunately, the situation did not improve and birds were too far in front of the nets. Called by boys as back up for their catch so all cables and decoys lifted before going to field.
On a young cabbage field behind the Leverton northern pumping station the boys were manning the nets. There was already a large flock of gulls on the field when the team arrived. Once decoys were set and everyone was in position, SJW successfully moved gulls to the desired part of the field. The first wave of dunlin came over c1.5 hours before tide. Grey Plover started arriving about an hour before tide. A vehicle twinkle was attempted but was not very successful so SJW tried further twinkling on foot which was more effective at rolling the birds but eventually a proportion of the flock lifted and headed seawards. During this process hide noticed APD lying 3m in front of the Jeep – he had decided to help twinkle, but realised he had to lie down when the birds lifted. Further foot twinkling lost the Grey Plovers but there were still c1000-1500 Dunlin on the field and these were twinkled towards the nets. Initially there were some safety issues when the first birds landed in the catching area but this was cleared and a flock of c500 birds landed in the catching area and a quick catch was taken.
A Look North camera crew were in attendance throughout this catch and some sequences were ‘faked’ at the end for their coverage.
|Species||New||Control / Retrap||Totals|
Back to base for breakfast at 14:00 and discussion of plans.
PM There were no obvious options for evening catching and therefore after setting for the following day, back to base for food, playing board games with APD and then bed.
Friday 11th August
SGD - c200 Oystercatchers on Wainfleet island (1/2 hour after tide which virtually covered the island) – not the huge numbers normally seen here.
Bar-tailed godwit coming onto a field of large cabbages south of the Northern Control Tower where TMT had seen Curlew and Barwit the previous day. Can’t work on the field but there’s a wide grass margin on the seaward side which may be possible to decoy birds in onto. A nearby disced stubble could also be an option. 1000 oyks on cabbage fields around the Southern control Tower, 500 grey plover in same spot as previous day, and another 500 grey plover on another young cabbage further south.
Slightly late into position by Leverton cabbage field and the first godwit were overhead when hide party got into hide. Problems with the field telephone system were eventually resolved by a fairly drastic modification of all connections, but at least we had communication between the two hides. A large flock of grey waders soon came in to the landward side of the field. The bar-tailed godwit/curlew initially landed inland of the nets and then having lifted, landed south of the nets, although we did gain one curlew (thereafter known as the ‘village idiot’) in the catching area. Initially SJW drove along the far edge of the field, to try and push birds towards the catching area. Whilst this was moderately effective, we were treated to a MasterClass in twinkling from a merlin, which stalked the grey waders and moved the flock gently in a nice roll. Finally, a combination of harrier disturbance and vehicle twinkling moved all the large waders to a field two to the north. RDF and RCT sent to twinkle these birds back, which they achieved very successfully, meanwhile SJW had driven closer to where the godwit/curlew flock had previously landed. The returning flock landed seaward, over the net and sprawled through safety into the catching area with the bulk of the flock in the seaward catching area. TMT then treated us to a MasterClass in jiggling and the birds behaved perfectly mostly walking away from the jiggler into the catching area. Once all birds were safe, fired both nets. The catch was covered quickly and extracted into cages on the field edge.
All equipment was removed from the field whilst the bulk of the catch was ringed and processed as the farmer had delayed spraying for us that morning and we were keen to be out of the way as soon as possible. The farm manager came out to the catch during extraction and the landowner came out during processing – it was good to be able to show them what we were up to.
|Species||New||Control / Retrap||Totals|
PM Set two full nets in a line neatly hidden under the last row of big cabbages firing towards the grass headland at Wainfleet(S) Grass Field with the intention of decoying Curlew and Bar-tailed godwit onto this grass headland rather than where they’d been roosting c75m into the cabbage field.
Then set 1 narrow full net in a field of small cauliflowers just south of the Control Tower Road for Grey Plover.
Given that the weather was closing in and visibility was therefore poor, we decided that it would be worth manning the cauliflower set for Grey Plover. Plastic decoys were set and the truck was used as a hide. Initially birds responded to decoys, but were very jumpy, the cause of which was later confirmed as one and then two merlins on the field, one of which caught a Dunlin and sat seaward of the nets by about 150m happily eating its tea. The flock peaked at about 250 dunlin and 200 grey plover. We tried vehicle twinkling but as the birds were not reacting to the vehicles, SKB was sent out on foot. The merlins continued to play around with the grey wader flock and consequently most of the birds left and went further south. TW was sent to twinkle them back with some success but eventually the flock left again and with failing light, it was decided not to fire on the merlin in the catching area, tempting though it might have been!
Saturday 12th August
AM Reccees: RDF: found a flock of 2-300 redshank roosting at the base of the seawall about half way between the Freiston reserve and the Leverton Outgate and a flock of c100 gulls and oystercatchers and grey plover in a field just inland. Two fields south of the field were both dunlin and barwit catches made, 500 curlew, 150 grey plover on young cabbages with a flock of 500 dunlin one field north. The catching field had 350 grey plover, and knot and barwit but no dunlin and 150 oystercatchers. At Sailor’s Home, a roost of 500 barwit and 50 curlew.
SLD: recceed from Northern Control Tower north to top of Wainfleet. A flock of c10k knot were found one field inland and one north of the road to the Northern Control Tower. This field was potatoes/harvested potatoes/recently planted cabbages. Went north and found a rough plough at the very top by Wainfleet Harbour with c200 Grey Plover, 100 oystercatchers, 100 Curlew and 1000 Bar-tailed godwit. Returned to check on the knot, which were now very settled on a ridge to the southern end of the field and running from the edge of the cabbages across the harvested potatoes.
JJK/AJK: another part harvested potato field down from old Friskney cottage, with 250 oyks. Also 200 curlew on rough plough just north of the horseshoe.
Up at 05:15 to pouring rain. KAC went alone to man the hide on the Grey Plover field near the Control Tower Road and watched the plastic decoys. The rest of the team went to the grass headland at the Northern Control Tower. Having relocated JK and AK who had gone to a slightly different corner of Wainfleet(S) grassfield and were wondering where we were, the hide party set plastic decoys and got into position. Eventually, when it was deemed to be raining too heavily inside the hide (and because two people who should know better didn’t have full waterproofs on!), the decision was taken to abandon this set. On leaving the hide it was clear it was raining less hard outside the hide but none-the-less it was thought that the rain would start again very soon, and without feather decoys, it was unlikely that the birds would want to come onto the headland instead of the field. Two cars went recceeing whilst the rest went around to the Grey Plover set, just in case. There were very few grey plover on the field, bar-tailed godwits were roosting at the seaward end with c2-300 dunlin. Decided that it was now too windy to catch so the team sat out the tide and crept away without disturbing the flocks.
All reccees returned with good options. Keen to make the most of these, the JJK/AJK went to Holbeach to collect another full net set so that we could set 5 nets in three places. Decided to get permission for knot on the Monday and try and work the oystercatchers and grey plover near the Control Tower Road Sunday morning. As the tide was in between cannon netting and mist netting and the weather was foul, we had another evening off. Some of the team were mad enough to go for bracing walks along the seawall to look for where the waders were as potential mist netting options whilst the rest stayed indoors and played Jenga before bed.
Sunday 13th August
SLD - went north after we failed to catch. Checked out the knot option. By the time she got there, all the knot were swirling over the marsh which was uncovering rapidly. c250 oystercatchers and a few bar-tailed godwit were roosting on the southern end of Wainflleet Island. Deciding to use her female initiative, she asked the local birders at the Control Tower where the knot had been at high tide. They reported c13-15k going inland just to the north of the pumping station but did not see them on a field. This would tally with how they came in yesterday and the obvious field to roost on from there is the part harvested potato they’d been on the previous day.
SGD - went south after we failed to catch. Found c1000 oystercatchers on the potato field to the south.
Up to the second morning of heavy rain at 6am. Decided not to man the godwit/curlew headland as we would need feather decoys for this, so went straight to the oystercatcher set on the pea field and grey plover set on the cauliflowers.
Plastic decoys were used initially and SKB was mad (dedicated?!) enough to get into position on the firing box in the ditch as soon as we arrived. A promising weather update from JJK gave us hope and it did, indeed dry up at which point we set feather decoys. By now, there was a sizeable flock of curlew and godwit at the seaward end of the Grey Plover field but all Grey Plover had been seen going into a field to the south. Problems understanding directions meant we lost the window needed to try and move the Grey Plover so we concentrated on the oystercatchers, which had been landing on a field in the outer reclaim. Three people were sent to twinkle these birds, which never showed any interest in coming anywhere near the catching area, preferring instead the field immediately next to the seawall. Eventually all these birds headed south so we lifted all these nets and headed back to base, having rehabilitated a very wet common gull picked up whilst trying to vehicle twinkle the initial grey plover flock.
Decided to set for knot as the primary option for Monday morning and to set for the Oystercatchers that SGD found as a secondary option as there were some concerns as to whether potato harvesting, due to start at 06:30 might happen in our field and dissuade the knot.
PM Mistnetting at Leverton Marsh. Having eventually found the right pool – NB go beyond the first big bend in the seawall before heading out onto the marsh – we set an “interesting” set of 10 nets. Two people went out with the tape lure an hour before tide but it was still too light to set it. When the first bird hit the net (21.25) it was decided that it was now dark enough to turn on the tape. The godwit flock was heard heading further north and moving away from the nets. A team went out to extract whilst SGD and RCT went north to see if they could flush the bar-tailed godwit back down. Whilst not a mega-catch, it was nice to get such a range of species. All birds ringed and processed and team back for bed by 01:45.
|Species||New||Control / Retrap||Totals|
Monday 14th August
AM Up at 06:40. RCT went to man the hide on the potato field to the south for oystercatchers whilst the rest of the team went to man the knot field at Wainfleet. Feather decoys were set having checked with JJK that the weather was going to stay ok. The knot appeared and swirled briefly over our field but then chose to go and land in the cabbage field behind us. TW was sent to twinkle these birds, which immediately split and went in all directions. RDF was sent north to retrieve as many as he could find but this wasn’t working. Perhaps the various cranes etc working at the drainage pump on the seawall were enough to push the birds away from our field.
c20 minutes before tide it was clear we weren’t going to get the knot back or in the right area so we gave up and headed for the oystercatcher potato field which didn’t look overly promising. SGD crawled into hide. 50 curlew & 20 oyks were on the field c40m behind the set, a big flock of grey plover were two fields inland and initially TMT’s car was left here to twinkle these. Foot twinklers sent south (AW) and north (RDF, APB and TW) to try and bring oystercatchers in. Initially, twinkling from the north, particularly by APD, was very successful and 600-700 birds landed about 40 yards behind the catching area with the flock of curlew. RCT tried twinkling from the ditch and birds eventually headed off. There was a brief moment where we could have taken a catch of c60 oystercatchers but greed got the better of both licencees who hadn’t allowed for the fact that this flock of oystercatchers had been twinkled extensively the morning before. Decided to call it a day and pick up both net sets. Back to the village hall for breakfast and to clear up and pack to leave.
During the trip, swallows and house martins were regularly flying low around village hall. Three sessions with a mist net caught:
These provided several ringing ticks among the team –particularly the latter! - and served to take the Lincolnshire team catch totals above 1000 of 11 species.