Snipe Ringing

A marsh in Hampshire ~ 29/30th March 2014 ~ 

I was very kindly invited by local ringer MC to join him on a trip to attempt to catch some Snipe at a nature reserve nearby. He has recently taken over the ringing duties there and I was delighted when he asked me to join him as I've never done any ringing like that before. It involved chest waders, an evening of net setting and a very early morning...sounds awesome right?! Well that's because it was!

Our base for the morning's ringing activities.

On Saturday night we met in a dark car park at 20.00, made sure that we had everything we needed and headed out into the darkness, head torches lighting the way. It took about 2 hours but we managed to set up 5 nets around the marsh and then we furled them so that it would be impossible for anything to get caught in the nets overnight. Once that was done we headed back to the car park and went our separate ways, looking forward to what the morning would bring.

Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)

My alarm went off at an ungodly hour but, mad as I am, I didn't mind and got ready in 10 minutes. My dad and I headed to the car park and met Martin before heading back out onto the marsh. It was still pitch black but the dawn chorus was just beginning, with a couple of Blackbirds and Robins singing and a Tawny Owl twit-twooing in the woods.

The same Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) as above,
but from a different angle.

It took about 30 minutes to unfurl all of the nets and when this was done we headed back to our base for the morning. It started to get light very quickly so we didn't have to wait long before the time came to go and see if we had caught anything.

Wading carefully around the marsh, we saw two birds in the nets. I held onto one while MC extracted the other and then extracted the one I was holding - it was a bit too high for me to do. With both birds extracted, in bird bags and entrusted to me, we set about taking down the nets. This didn't take too long and before we knew it we were back at base with all the poles, nets and the two birds.

The incredible patterning on the wings and back of
the Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago).

We started with the Snipe which was quickly ringed, processed and aged before being released. Next up was the second bird, a Teal, something that neither of us had expected to catch! Once again it was quickly ringed, processed and aged before being released out onto the reserve.

Female Teal (Anas crecca).
Once both birds had been released we headed back to the car park and headed our separate ways; I went home for a well-deserved sleep.


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