The majority of garden birds caught in Orkney are either by using mist nets or whoosh nets. The mist net is a fine net, suspended between two poles, which the birds fly into and drop into a pocket at the bottom of the net. The whoosh net is designed to catch birds on the ground and uses elastic to pull the net over the top of the birds.
To use either type of net requires the ringer to have the relevant endorsement on their permit. Before a ringer can get the endorsement they need to be able to demonstrate that they can safely setup and use the net and that they can safely extract the birds from the net.
So today saw me round at Colin's house using a whoosh net to catch some of the birds visiting his garden as the garden at my house is currently lacking on birds. There are a couple of Blackbirds and the occassional Starling. All the House Sparrows and Greenfinch have disappeared. Although I am putting food out for them it appears they are seeking food and shelter from elsewhere and I have a theory that when the weather gets colder some of the birds vacate rural areas and head for built up areas. Presumably because the air temperature maybe slightly warmer and the food supplies a bit more abundant within a small range. So rather than stripping one location of all its food they take some of the food available and then move on to the next location knowing that they can go back for more from previous locations. I'd just like to point out that this is my theory and isn't based on any scientific evidence!!
Earlier in the morning Colin had seen a Waxwing about so had put some apple on his lawn within the capture area of the whoosh net hoping it would entice it in but it wasn't to be. It wasn't wasted though as the Blackbirds seemed to enjoy it.
Once there was a good gathering of birds in the capture zone the net was released and we had a catch of 22 birds consisting of eight house Sparrows, seven Starlings, four Greenfinch and three Blackbirds.
Having reset the net we then processed the birds that had been caught.
Hopefully the birds will soon return to my garden and Colin can bring the whoosh net here so that I can have a go at setting it up and make a start on ringing some of my garden visitors.