Many of us really look forward to our mist-netting sessions for waders as we so love being out on a saltmarsh at night. Setting mist nets on a marsh is spectacular in itself with tall lines of nets stretched across the landscape, but there is nothing to beat the atmosphere when it gets dark. As the light fades and then the tide comes in you start to hear the eerie sounds of waders calling as the water moves them up off the mudflats. If there is enough light you might start to see them flying over the marsh. If you are really lucky, there will also be shooting stars, phosphorescence as you walk across the marsh (feeling like Gandalf every time you lean on your furling stick), or even fireworks in a nearby town.
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).
Over the last two or three years WWRG has increased its efforts on the resighting of colour-marked birds, recognising that this provides valuable data in terms of the number of recoveries and the information gained on the movements and survival of birds that have been ringed. Previous blogs have outlined the fieldwork undertaken by WWRG in the last quarter of 2017, including colour-ring resighting, particularly the ‘Colour-mark resighting bonanza’ weekend of 6–8 October when 146 sightings of 88 birds were made over three tides.
One of the most interesting aspects of ringing with WWRG is the information that we receive on birds that we have ringed which turn up in different places both in the UK and elsewhere. These may be re-sighted from colour marks on the legs of a bird or from the bird being re-caught, either through mist netting or cannon netting, by another ringing group. Increasingly we are also receiving reports from individual birders who have read the metal ring of a wader in the field, an indication of the quality of modern optical equipment and the interest of birders in the finding of ringed birds.