Whoosh, there is snows…

With a thick layer of snow blanketing the Breckland region and much of eastern England and the midlands, we took the opportunity to undertake a whoosh net catch at Lodge Farm, in Thetford Forest. A whoosh net basically uses elastics to fire a net over a group of birds. With snow softening the features of the landscape and covering food sources, birds were flocking to the feeders.

Having cleared a patch of snow from under a large beech tree, and laid a good load of seed down, birds soon started flocking into our catching area, in particular large numbers of chaffinch and brambling. It was mesmerising watching bird after bird flutter to the feeders, drop down onto the snow and feast on the sunflower seeds, only to flush on-mass back into the trees. However being so hungry the birds would soon return, and as they gained in confidence more and more would gather between the poles. It was not long before we pulled and fired the net, catching 50 birds in one go!
 
Extracting birds from the whoosh net

The majority of these were bramblings, numbers of this beautiful finch have been comparatively low this winter, compared with previous years, but with the cold snap and snow large numbers had finally arrived at the farm. Breeding in Scandinavia and northern Russia, the brambling arrives in Britain during the winter months to feed predominantly on beech seeds.

Beautiful male brambling 

Later in the morning we re-set the whoosh net; this time the birds were a little more flighty, with the slushing noise of cars passing on the road spooking them more often. However with a little patience (easier said then done when you’re sat freezing in a car!) numbers soon built up and we once again fired the net, this time catching approximately 30 birds.

In the end after a morning stomping around in the snow, firing whoosh nets and catching more birds in mist nets covering the feeders we caught and processed 291 birds!

Processing birds in the snow!

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