'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Cannon-netting at Miranda - part 2.

The first thing to change our plans involved the godwits. Suddenly they all took off (what a spectacular sight!) and went inland to the silt ponds. They are a jumpy bunch. Perhaps they spotted us. Either way, we weren't going to be catching any godwits this time. I must say I was disappointed. I was especially keen to see a godwit close-up.

We had to go to Plan B: try and net Wrybills and South Island Pied Oystercatchers (SIPO).

Unfortunately the wrybills proved elusive. They are calm little birds, almost tame, and despite all Adrian's efforts to 'twinkle' them in the right place, they simply parted to allow him to move among them, then filled in again behind him! They would not be herded!

So, Plan C. Moving very gently, and with great skill, Adrian began to work just on the SIPO. They did herd. He didn't want them to take off, or all his time would have been wasted and they might have ended up at the end of the shell bank again. Slowly, slowly he pushed them towards the net area until there were plenty in the right place. For a long while we waited. Nothing seemed to be happening, but then someone who was on the other end of the radio said that Adrian was waiting while a couple of SIPO moved themselves a bit, as they were too close to the actual cannons.

Then suddenly it was the countdown: four…three…two…ONE! BOOM! and everyone sprinted madly across the shells to cover the struggling, flapping birds with light sacking to calm them down...

and then, as fast as possible, the 'extractors' untangled them from the net and placed them in the containers with the special cloth lids, and we carried them, four to a container, back to the shelter to be weighed, measured and tagged.

Next: part three.


  1. Patience was rewarded, then...

  2. That's would be so amazing to be a part of that.

  3. I hope part 3 will explain WHY all this cannon-netting and godwit-tagging is going on? Perhaps I missed something along the way.

  4. Robert - oh sorry, you're right I haven't covered that bit recently. I'll make sure I do.
    In the meantime, back in March last year I wrote this post that may help:

  5. Can we get a close up of the outside of a bird?

  6. DBM - absolutely! Saving the best 'til last!
    Just trying to get permission for the faces that appear...