Friday 18th February
Morning recce done by SD
|Snettisham North||(06:00 – 07:20);400 Oystercatchers|
|Heacham Far North||(07:40 – 08:00); 40 Oystercatcher, 400 Sanderling; 21 Turnstone and 3 Knot, although the Knot total was later reduced to 2 by a Peregrine which caught and ate the third. Not surprisingly other birds left at this point|
The numbers of birds using Snettisham might have been affected by beach recharge work although this was not in progress at high tide. SD established they were not working over the weekend and also that as a consequence of heavy equipment parked there, the public car park was closed.
PI joined SD for a recce of the rising afternoon tide.
|Snettisham North||400+ Oystercatchers assembled on the mudflats near the mussel beds and were gradually pushed ashore by the tide. However, recharge activity, immediately disturbed them and they all left southwards|
|Heacham South||A smaller number of Oystercatchers gathered off-shore and were pushed by the tide. Part of the flock reached the beach near the tump but were also disturbed by recharge work and they too departed south|
Team assembled at Base ready to depart for setting soon after 20:00. Three nets set reasonably quickly but some electrical problems at the end delayed completion. Bed, after a briefing, just before midnight.
Saturday 19th February
Up 05:00. Dry but increasing wind strength. SD manned the observation point. As it became light it was apparent most of the Oystercatchers on the beach were just the observation point side of the nets with only a few in front of the first net. Some grey waders were also noted to be present. An attempt to move the Oystercatchers was made but most headed south before any pressure was put on. It was also noted that there was no significant flock on Heacham South beach to bring south to Snettisham. Attention now turned to the grey wader flock, mainly Sanderling. These were just beyond the nets at the other end from the observation point. Twinkling failed to move the birds into the catching area and a shingle ridge about 15 yards out from the net soon became exposed. Whilst occasional waves covered this twinkling continued but the birds left south. Gave up and all nets lifted just as rain started.
Meanwhile NC recced
|Heacham Far North||35 Turnstone and 40 Oystercatchers initially but after high tide 400 Sanderling arrived. Despite some Peregrine activity, 300 Sanderling remained.|
All back to base for breakfast in increasing rain. This was predicted to be heavy and continue until about 18:00. The option for the evening had been to catch Oystercatcher on the rising tide at either Snettisham or Heacham although the recces had not proved promising and there was little enthusiasm for doing this in the rain. A group of people visited Heacham Far North to mark net sets for the morning and later in the afternoon several people went bird watching at Snettisham Pit and other locations on that coast. No colour ringed waders were spotted though.
Evening meal at 19:00 and then early bed. The rain stopped as predicted shortly after 18:00.
Sunday 20th February
Up 04:15 as it was felt that on some recent catching attempts on Heacham Far North net setting had been too late and both recces had identified the role that the oystercatchers had in drawing birds to the roost so we did not want to spook these oystercatchers. Two full size small mesh nets set by 06:15. It soon became apparent that the tide was coming in rapidly and the nets were set too low. Decided to mobilise a team to move the nets just as the Sanderling arrived. However as the water was now too close the net move still had to take place, the Sanderling staying on the beach the entire time. The reset net was too close to the sea to be useable immediately so waited for the tide to turn and fall off. About 10 Oystercatchers, some Turnstone and Ringed Plover together with Sanderling from time to time were in the catching area whilst the tide was too high to fire. As the tide dropped to a point where firing was feasible the Sanderling opted for a shingle spit to the left of the catching area. A very gentle twinkle by ES got these to walk to the nearer of the two nets and eventually in front of it. This was useful as although the further net had other species as well, some were in the safety area too close to the net to fire. After waiting for a wave to push the birds slightly higher up the beach fired to catch the Sanderling.
With the small mesh nets, extraction was rapid. All birds were fully processed with lots of passers-by being shown birds in the hand.
|Species||New||Control / Retrap||Totals|
Of the retraps, the oldest birds had originally been ringed in 1998, making them over 12 years old and for one of these it was its ninth capture!
Back to base for breakfast then departure early afternoon.