Night-catching

I had bought a Pulsar thermal-camera already a year ago but I hadn’t really been using it much. In a couple of trips abroad I had been using it to find some very difficult birds to see and in Säppi we had caught some waders but in Parikkala I hadn’t been using it almost at all.

Now in autumn ringers in North-Karelia had been ringing huge numbers of Great Snipes and other birds with thermal-camera, head-light and net combo. We decided to try if we could find any birds on the fields nearby. We were already late in the season but we knew that at least some snipes and Woodcocks were still around and more still to come.

In the 16th of September we went for our first try and we managed to find one Great Snipe which we tried to catch but even though I managed to get close to it, I couldn’t catch it. We also found some Common Snipes but they were too shy and and I couldn’t get even close to any of them.

On the 17th evening we tied again. We found a couple of Great and Jack Snipes, some Common Snipes and a Ruff but again we had no change. We were pretty sure that we did still something wrong.

On the 19th we had much longer rod in our net and I managed to catch a Golden Plover but still snipes were too difficult. Then on the 21st evening we saw all species of snipes but had still no luck. I was about to give up, it really seemed hopeless .

On the 22nd evening we had asked more information from our friends in North-Karelia and we had now the last missing piece with us. We had to play so called white noise from a speaker while we walking towards the birds. It was so noise to walk on the field so this loud sound covered our footsteps. We were playing sound of a burbling river. So in a short trip we caught a Woodcock and a Great Snipe. But still Common Snipes were too shy and they all flushed from a distance. It seemed that if there was a flock of birds and one bird flushed, they all came wary and impossible to catch.

On the 24th evening we did a little bit longer trip and checked several fields and caught 3 Woodcocks, 3 Skylarks, a Golden Plover and again a beautiful Great Snipe. And then on the 25th evening we caught a Jack Snipe, 6 Woodcocks and a Skylark and saw a Great Snipe and a Long-eared Owl and heard Brent Geese and Long-tailed Duck flocks migrating.

On the 27th evening we caught a Golden Plover, a Jack Snipe, 2 Woodcocks and a Skylark and on the 28th only a single Common Snipe before the clouds moved away and it became too light to catch anything. Also the night of 29th and 30th was good in the beginning and we caught 2 Jack Snipes, 2 Woodcocks, 2 Great Snipes and a Skylark but then the sky cleared and birds seemed to see us.

On the 1st of October we ringed a Jack Snipe, 11 Woodcocks, a Common and a Great Snipe and a Skylark. From one field I caught 4 birds in a very short time and they were all different kind of snipes (Woodcock included). We of course saw more snipes and 2 Golden Plovers and a Short-eared Owl too.

So it was clear that the best weather to catch birds was cloudy and dark, maybe even foggy or a little bit rainy and it was really good if it was also windy. Birds seemed to stay on the ground in a hard wind.

On the 3rd of October we caught 4 Jack Snipes (+3 were seen), 3 Woodcocks (+2), 1 Common Snipe (+14 this shows how difficult Common Snipes can be) and 1 Skylark. Also 2 Golden Plovers were seen. On the 6th of October maestro Karoliina Hämäläinen joined us for a couple of hours and we got more tips to catching birds but also aging them. We ringed 7 Jack Snipes, 2 Woodcocks and 6 Common Snipes – of course Karoliina caught most of the Common Snipes… And because of night were now dark and also windy we kept on visiting the same fields and on the 7th of October we ringed 3 Common Snipes and 3 Woodcocks, on the 8th of October 6 Jack Snipes, 6 Woodcocks, Common Snipe and 1 Skylark, 13th of October 5 Jack Snipes, 3 Woodcocks, 2 Common Snipes and a Skylark and at least for now the last visit was made on the 18th of October when we caught a Barnacle Goose, 5 Jack Snipes, 2 Woodcocks and 3 Common Snipes.

So after all we were happy how we had been doing. We had caught more than a hundred birds from the fields very close to our home. We hadn’t been further than 10 kilometers away from our home so we had managed to keep our trips quite short. After all it is important to get some sleep too… But for sure we will keep on doing this in the future and next autumn we will start much earlier. It has been really fun!

And it has also been nice to find out how many mammals there are on the fields so close to our home. We had seen an Elk, Roe Deers, Foxes, Racoon Dogs, Brown Hares and Arctic Hares, Bank and Field Voles, Yellow-necked, Stiped Field, Harvest and Northern Birch Mice and a single shrew. We also were on the same fields together with 3 Brown Bears but we didn’t see them. On other person saw the bears with thermal-camera while we were catching birds.

J.A.