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.
Friday 16 February
Carole and Cathy undertook a recce of the beaches at Snettisham and Heacham at high tide, arriving on the beach just after first light at 06.15. There was approximately 250 Oystercatchers on Snettisham Beach, a nucleus of about 150 and two smaller groups of about 50 each 100 metres either side of the main flock. A group of about 10 Oystercatchers was seen on Heacham Beach with another group of about 100 Oystercatchers at the far north end of Heacham Beach. No grey waders were seen on either beach.
Friday 26 January
A small number of people (four WWRG members and two partners) met at the base house on Friday evening in preparation for an intensive day of colour-ring and flag resighting on Saturday. The focus of the trip was to look for Bar-tailed Godwit with WWRG flags. The group is down on resightings of this species compared to the previous winter, with insufficient sightings to undertake a survival analysis.