Birds in hand
Trip Start Aug 12, 2009
7Trip End Aug 24, 2009
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Last night, after struggling with some very tangled nets and slogging through another inundated field, we successfully set up four 12 meter nets alongside the riverbank at Hakan's banding station. (In my previous posting, I mistakenly said the nets would go between a fallow field and a meadow. I didn't realize there was a small river behind the tall grass! I also didn't realize the field would be flooded and kind of ruined my New Balances before Hakan told me there were another set of rubber boots. Thanks!) Anyway, we had some luck. I say some, since there were hundreds of barn swallows flying around, as you can hopefully tell from the video I posted, but of those we caught four fledglings. But, on the other hand, we caught four birds
In any case, this morning was better. (Unlike some American mosquitos, the ones here seem blessedly afraid of sunlight!) We set up the nets just as the sun was peaking over the mountaintops in the distance, and then we waited for thirty minutes before going to take any birds out of the net. On the way out to the field, I told Hakan I wanted him to catch me a kingfisher, a bee eater, and maybe some barn swallows, if he could be troubled. He just laughed and said he would try.
It turned out he was good for his word. After about an hour of having the nets up (we spent twenty minutes or so taking at least that many sparrows out of the net, which had all swooped in at once), we heard a familiar high-pitched twitter and saw a green bullet shoot into the net. "A kingfisher?" said Hakan, who was banding one of the sparrows. I jumped up, threw on some rubber boots and scrambled down the crumbling slope, falling hard at the edge of the swamp. I laughed and scurried on, sloshing through the muddy hummocks of grass. When I got to the bird, it was squawking noisily and then proceeded to bite me several times as I worked to free it from the net. (I was impressed by the sharpness of its beak.) As I brought it back to the banding station, I was greeted with cheers. Alright, Hakan, now for a bee eater. More on that later...