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.
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.
This was the first field trip of 2018 for the Wash Wader Ringing Group and was the first cannon net catch by the group since September 2017. This was an extremely experienced team, with four cannon net licensees (plus one trainee,) as well as several ringers with considerable experience of both cannon netting and mist netting waders with the group. Sophie and Alyce had each been to one mist net catch previously and only Ellie was completely new to wader ringing with the group (although she had done some wader ringing with another group).
Saturday 19 August
The autumn Wash week began with the combined Norfolk and Lincolnshire teams convening at the Norfolk fieldwork house on Saturday afternoon. This followed some uncertainty as to whether the planned mist netting session would be able to go ahead based on weather predictions. A recce at Gedney had taken place earlier in the afternoon with glow light markers in place for finding the way across the marsh at night. With the go-ahead agreed, the team headed off to bed for a very early start the following morning.
The WWRG Spoonie team members are now on their way back from China. They sent two more updates before they left:
8 October update: We were up again not long after midnight and out on the shore, setting mist nets as the tide ran off. We set two lines of nets and started to catch, largely Red-necked Stint but also a Spoonie and a Relict Gull. Over 70 birds were caught in total and lots of samples were taken for the Centre for Disease Control team. A small team headed back to the hotel to collect more people, breakfast and telescopes while the rest finished processing the birds and headed over to the lagoon, only to discover they had left one team member on the seawall!