Monday, July 1, 2019
It's that time of year again - time to descend onto the Brigg here in Filey just before dusk, in the hope of catching Storm-petrels in the dead of night. It's a uniquely special experience that's hard to describe, but in simplified terms involves putting up two connecting mist nets along a rocky shelf at the foot of the cliffs, blasting out the hypnotic and otherworldy noise of a petrel colony mixtape via bullhorn speakers on their landward side, and waiting for the fluttering apparitions to appear out of the increasingly blurry semi-darkness.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but it's always worth it, and there are always upsides to the sleep deprivation - whether in the form of natural wonders like shooting stars, noctilucent clouds, and stunning sunsets and sunrises, or more earthbound pleasures like Great Crested Newts, Hedgehogs, foxes, bats and moths and nocturnal migrating waders, or just the simple privilege of enjoying the night sky.
Last night (well, tonight - I just got home), our first of the season, was a resounding success - with no fewer than six birds caught, all new (i.e. no controls or retraps), with perhaps another three or four that didn't make it into our sweaty clutches; a really good night by any standards, but especially as it was our brushing-off-the-dust inaugural session of the year. George, Will, Dan and I were very happy campers as we finally headed home (with Common Sandpiper dropping onto the Brigg and Skylarks already singing above us), and here's hoping it'll be another memorable season.