Sunday 2 October 2022

Walsey Hills - 2nd October 2022

 A very unusual session supporting ERB at the ringing station. It had not been especially busy and we had no success attempting to capture any of the large flock of mainly juvenile House Martin that had been frequenting the area above the ringing site, and Snipe's Pool in particular over the past few days. We had a net up but it was just too windy and the birds consistently flew above and around our only hope of capturing them.

However, a Sparrowhawk had been around all morning, upsetting the birds around the station feeders and also disturbing a large flock of Curlew from nearby fields. The Sprawk had made an earlier unsuccessful attempt at the 100+ flock of House Martins. It seems likely that a second try resulted in birds dropping too close to the ground and in the urgency to evade the predator some birds became bogged down in a muddy area of the pool, still only half full following the summer drought. The birds were noticed by one of the bird watchers and a party went down to see whether any could be reached.

The muddy fringes of Snipes Pool.

Five birds were seen initially and a couple picked up from very close to the reeds. To reach the others took a little more ingenuity.

Lengthening the net's reach to fish out more of the stricken birds.

Gaffer tape to the rescue.

With some branches, a shrimping net, gaffer tape, a little ingenuity and a lot of determination it was possible to rescue six birds.

The unorthodox method used to retrieve the House Martins. 

All needed the copious mud to be rinsed away, but after drying off and spending a little time in a dry bird bag and warming up under a ringer's jacket all were processed and released successfully to rejoin the flock.

    One of six juvenile House Martins rescued, rinsed, dried, warmed up, 
processed and then released back to the flock.