14 January 2013

Purps first for the year.

Today saw the first ringing session off 2013.

It started yesterday while I was on my way home from a week South on business. Thanks to modern technology I received an email from Colin to say he was planning on going for a cannon net catch over on West Mainland on monday morning and was I available. I quickly replied that I would be and we arranged to meet up in Kirkwall before heading over to the ringing site.

Last night's clear skies and aurora had been replaced by overcast skies and rain when we met up. Colin informed me that Davey had said that it was dry over at the ringing site so we set off and it rained all the way. We did a quick recce of the ringing site and there were good numbers of Purple Sandpipers (Purps) and Turnstones on the shoreline.

As the rain got heavier we retreated to the car and awaited the arrival of Davey. It wasn't long before he arrived and thankfully the rain eased. We went back to the ringing site and selected a suitable area for setting up the net. Then it was back to the car to get all the equipment and set it up. At this point Brian joined us to complete the team.

With everything ready Colin and I remained at the firing point while Davey and Brian headed off to locate where the birds had moved to. With high tide due at 11:00 it was time to play the waiting game which was the signal for the rain to start.

Eventually as the rain eased the tide turned and started to expose the area in front of the net. A few times the flocks of waders further down the beach were spooked and they headed for our catching area only to turn away at the last minute and go back to where they had come from.

Just when it looked like we may not get a catch a small group of Purps were spooked from down the beach and this time they landed just outside the catching area. The net was armed and Mother Nature lent a hand in the form of a couple of waves pushing the birds into the catching area. The net was fired and a catch of about 50 birds was caught.

The birds were duly extracted from the net and taken to a drier spot to be processed.

In total 47 birds were caught, 46 Purps (including about half a dozen retraps) and a solitary Turnstone.

A good catch to start the 2013 ringing season off.


  1. What a cracking catch Dave. I've never even seen 46 Purps together, let alone catch that many!

    1. I don't want to cheese you off Seumus but there were at least 200 when we first got to the site. A lot of turnstones too but they seemed to disappear as the tide rose.