Cannon netting

What is cannon-netting?

Cannon-netting is a technique that has been used for over 35 years to catch waders (and other birds) as part of the many research programs conducted across many countries.

As the name implies, this is a process that uses small cannons that shoot projectiles, attached to a net, out over birds standing on the ground in front of the net.

Some of the steps in how it works include:

  • Doing pre-catch reconnoitres to likely roosting sites to see where it may be best to set up the nets
  • Carrying the materials to the site and setting the net (pegging the back line down, burying the cannons, furling the net to ensure it opens smoothly, camouflaging the net to make it blend in to the site and laying cables back to the hide for firing)
  • Posting people to points where they can see the catching area and ensure the safety of the birds
  • Twinkling (herding) the birds into the catching zone
  • Firing the cannons
  • Covering the net with shade cloth to keep the birds calm
  • When the net has trapped the birds, trained extractors take the birds from the net and they are carried to holding cages (frames covered in dark shade cloth to keep the birds calm) before being processed.
  • After processing, the birds are released to join their flocks.

There are strict protocols in place to ensure the safety of the birds remains paramount. An induction manual for new volunteers getting involved with catching has been prepared by the VWSG.

Below are some photos of cannon netting from key catch sites in Victoria.

Setting up the cannon net

Furling the cannon net in preparation for a catch at Tooradin. Photo: Eric Miller

Cannon net firing photos from Werribee Sewage Treatment Plant

Cannon net firing at Yallock Creek

Extracting birds after the catch