Cannon-netting Sanderling at Fleetwood

For the first time this year, I've ventrued away from east Lancashire to do some Sanderling ringing at Fleetwood with Richard Du Feu and others. This was initially planned for December but the weather scuppered our plans and so today was the next best high tide - in excess of 10 meters.

The plan was to cannon net waders at their high tide roost - a sand and gravel bank on the beach near the Marine Lake at Fleetwood. A few days previously there had been 170 Sanderlings present but the last few days they were far fewer in number following weekend disturbance.

However seven of us turned up at 9am to set out the cannon nets under Richard's guidance. This was something I had done before but over 35 years ago at Seaforth with the SW Lancs ringing group when I wasa novice teenage birder. We carefully laid out two nets and four cannons just below the crest of the bank hoping that the birds would come into roost at just the right place.

Once the nets were in place (an hour later), it was a case of waiting for high tide. The strong offshore wind meant that the tide wouldn't be as high as hoped for but still as high tide approached, a small group of 25 or so Sanderling and 22 Ringed Plover started to congregate along with a Grey Plover and a few Turnstone. The 200 or so Turnstones that reoosted on the Lake occasionally zoomed around but never dropped in.

Very soon, the order for detonation was given and we all ran to get the birds clear of the water. Our numbers had swelled to around 15 people but there were unfortunately fewer than that caught - five Sanderlings, two Turnstones and three Ringed Plovers - oh dear.

As I had never ringed any waders before i was one of the lucky ones who got to ring a Sanderling (a 1st winter bird as told from teh brown tertials with white notches in them - the adults had clean grey ones) as well as processing a few of the other birds.
1st winter Sanderling - note those long brownish tertials with white notches in them

Laying out the nets - one of the 'cannons' in the foreground
After lunch I decided to head to Pilling to look at Geese and whtever else there was. There were several thousand Pinkfeet in and around Pilling/Eagland Hill but always just out of reach or behind a hedge. Three Short-eared Owls and a Barn Owl quartered fields on Bradshaw Lane but there was just one Corn Bunting and a vey nice flock of 150 Chaffinches. As I headed over to Nateby there were around 1500 Rooks and Jackdaws in a once large but well scattered flock and from there I headed home with decidedly pink cheeks from that biting wind!

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