I've come out of (blogging) retirement because I have an idea to revolutionise birding. You heard it folks, revolutionise birding/ringing. Not that I think ringing is big or clever. There I said it.
I believe that we are missing hundreds, nay, thousands of migrants which travel in the safety of darkness. Bardsey has counted a maximum of 31000 migrant birds attracted to the lighthouse....erm....light. In one night.
Let me reiterate that. 31000 migrants in 1 single singular eventide/nachtzeit.
The counts are crazy, 1500 Groppers in one night. What? Fifteen hundred Groppers?! Erm, what???!!!! In the US of A there's stories of thousands of dendroica (fuck you IOC) teeming, inundating lighthouses in their droves. I typed "drives" first by mistake but then I realised and went back and deleted the "I" and replaced it with an "o". Syntax error. What am I talking aboot?
So we already know that there are night migrants. I mean by mid May the national population of redstarts (200000 pairs? I'm guessing) are all on eggs. They've ALL already travelled here. How many Redstarts have Spurn recorded by that time? 10? 2? Portland? 6? I don't know, I can't be bothered to look but it's not very many in the grand scheme of things.
So they travel at night. They are already on breeding grounds in massive numbers never being seen at migration hotspots. How many rarities on Shetland get refound further south once they've continued their journey? Not many. Not many at all.
So Bardsey for example. Migrants attracted to the light. There is peril here (for the birds) as many fly into the building and smash their own tiny heeds in whilst flying towards the light presumably as light attracts insects, moths and erm, more insects for mid migration sustenance shenanigans. I think they once found 18 battered birds one night so maybe not that many. But enough, I suppose.
Bardsey has responded to this by changing the light from white to red and the number of birds attracted fell dramatically. There's two ways to look at this, one is to think that yes, they've now saved little migrants smashing their own tiny heeds in (18 max) or you can say they have inadvertently removed a vital stop off point for artificial insect feeding action.
Personally I don't care which is correct. They know more than me.
With the above in mind, how can we harness the migrants (therefore vagrants) that are passing above whilst we drink Jura in Crown? It's clear that we can't allow migrants to smash their own tiny heeds in on the bricks of a black and white lighthouse. Can we form an artificial lighthouse?!
We'd also need to think of the ethics of stopping night migrants in the midst of migration, but I think creating light will create the artificial breeding ground of insects therefore creating the above insect vital artificial moth fest insect feeding frenzy that birds would surely want?
The next thought is birds travelling too fast for a net. Something to think about.
Bear with me here. In the most basic form, taking all of the above into account, why can't we harness all the massive rarities and great numbers of common migs that surely pass over spurn by creating a powerful circle of flashlights, stood on the ground, that draw the birds (and insects) in, with a circle of big fuck off mist nets encircling that circle, place near some decent habitat (church field) then have a ground based minorish (proper word) floodlight that lights the area (but not the nets) so the birds can see where they're landing but not the nets and therefore not smash their own tiny heeds in, the background music would be a loud tape of chiffs, brambling and Middendorfs Gropper splaying out into the night air, we would catch 700 Groppers, 4 Lanceys and a Middendorfs Gropper every single night and, because we're in church field, we can still drink Jura and brown booze from the Crown around the corner! Revolution! The world will want to stay at spurn and the obs could charge £600 per night without hand relief during October. There will be no one birding by day in the future.
Timothy Jones. This is aimed at you as I know you're into this night thing. I want to know your thoughts. Why hasn't this been discussed?! It needs some thinking about.
Or am I simply mental?
21 hours ago