As we only had two Turnstone in the catch on 24 May, we went for a small catch on 25 May on Prime Hook Beach, hoping to repeat the 22 May catch. We found Turnstone in the same place, but they were moving around a lot so we only managed a very small catch. Others spent the day out resighting and surveying.
So the weather in Delaware has continued to be unseasonably wet; although not always as wet as the forecast suggested, we have been woken in the night by the rain at times. We had the same catching plan for three days, with the heavy rain and wind meaning that we couldn’t get out on the first two days – saves writing new plans on our wipe board each day and also means we get more data input and checked. We did get out in the afternoon on Saturday to try to make a catch of Sanderling for a PhD project – we found Sanderling on the north end of Prime Hook Beach and went to set. We had issues with Grackles and Blackbirds scaring the shorebirds but managed to get a small catch, but only two Sanderling.
Every May for the last 22 years, members of WWRG have headed off to Delaware Bay to help catch and resight shorebirds as part of an international project studying migrants on stopover. The shorebirds feed on Horseshoe Crab eggs and fatten up rapidly for their journey to the Arctic to breed. We help to catch birds to mark them, check their condition and weight gain, resight marked birds on the beaches to work out survival and return rates, as well as working out how long individuals stay. More information about the project and results can be found here.
The Wash is one of a small number of sites of international importance in the UK for the Eurasian Curlew population (the only UK site that supports greater numbers being Morecambe Bay), with peak counts exceeding 8,500 during autumn passage. The Wash Wader Ringing Group has undertaken ringing studies of this charismatic wader for over 50 years and has contributed considerably to our understanding of the UK Curlew population. Metal ring recoveries of birds marked by the group indicate that most birds using the Wash breed in Finland and Sweden, with a smaller proportion coming from breeding sites within the UK.
Friday 9 March
The team assembled at the base house from 18:00 to prepare for a full day of fieldwork attempting to re-encounter marked birds on the East shore of the Wash. The preceding week had seen ‘the Beast from the East’ visit the East coast of England. This extremely cold weather front gave Lincolnshire and Norfolk arctic temperatures and the worst snow storms since 1987, which caused widespread disruption. Concerns were raised before the fieldwork session that wader casualties on the Wash could be extensive, and a plan was made to walk the tideline to search for casualties and retrieve any rings. Circlip pliers are a useful item to have in the pocket for such occasions, and the team left prepared the next day.