Another busy weekend just gone. It got off to another very early start on saturday morning with our second attempt at catching Gulls. This time we tried a different location, and also decided to get there a little earlier in the hope of getting the Gulls as they were waking! So we arrived at North Shields fish quay at just before 7.00am and set everything up. We put a lot of bait out for the Gulls, including some lovely looking fish bits, and prepared ourselves for the bountiful catch that was surely to come. Ha! Just like last weekend we waited and waited but it was all in vain. A few birds came and showed interest but they were all too wary to take the bait. We called it a day around 8.30am as more and more people were arriving and the Gulls had started to move on.
From North Shields I headed over to Whitburn Coastal Park to join up with a few of the lads from the CCG to add another bit of piping to the south pond and generally patch things up. While there we had a quick walk around the ringing mound and flushed a Woodcock, my first of the year.
On sunday myself and Adrian had a trip up to Northumberland in the hope of catching something altogether different, a Short Eared Owl. We both knew it was an extremely long shot but we thought we'd have a go anyway. When I arrived just after 12.30pm Adrian had already had the nets set up, so it was just a case of watching and waiting. As we scanned the surrounding fields we counted around six or seven individual Owls out hunting. It looked promising but we werent getting too excited as Owls are extremely difficult to catch. At one point we thought we had one as a bird clipped the net with its wing but frustratingly it bounced straight back out of the net. We were absolutely gutted to see it fly off. But then, just after 3.00pm, Adrian went to do a routine net check, and when he came back he had a fantastic little surprise. The nets had worked, we had caught a stunning adult Short Eared Owl! This in itself was superb, but even better was the fact that Adrian let me do the ringing. I was absolutely delighted! After ringing the bird and taking the relevant measurements, we had a few minutes to actually have a look at the bird itself. And what a gorgeous thing it was. Absolutely beautiful. I was really surprised at how much smaller it appeared in the hand. When you see it flying it looks a decent size but close up it was quite diminutive. We then allowed a couple of photographs to be taken before letting the bird go completely unharmed. It was a truly fantastic end to a very mixed weekend. Everybody went home happy!