I've been joining Chris for more evening sessions at Holme Pierrepont since Christmas in an attempt to catch some waders, in particular one of our target species; the Common Snipe. Obviously so many factors can dictate the number of birds which are present at any one time, from year to year. For example - weather conditions, availability of food and good quality feeding habitat, influx of birds from overseas, not to mention human disturbance.
It seems that the Snipe don't really want to play the game this winter, at each session we have put up fair numbers of birds in the darkness as we walk around the A52 pit, but only a handful seem to be going in the nets. It appears that overall the number of Snipe present this winter seems to be at a low, and when I think back to how rock-hard the fields at Holme Pierrepont have been until quite recently, it's difficult not to guess why.
However, as most of us know, with ringing of this type, it's not always about quantity, but quality. A retrap Redshank which we caught at a recent session was initially ringed back in January 2010 and Chris also told me about the retrap Jack Snipe which he caught earlier this week, which turned out to be a bird ringed last winter at Holme Pierrepont. Also, it is always great to get experience of new birds and to study Woodcock and Lapwing in the hand over the past few weeks has been excellent.
So although a lot of effort goes into work like this, often with only a small number of birds caught, capturing valuable information about them and the importance of sites like Holme Pierrepont as wintering grounds for these species, somehow makes it more than worthwhile. Well, it does to night-time nerds like myself and Chris anyway!