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.
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.
Friday 1 December
A few hardy people met on Friday evening at the fieldwork base in preparation for an early morning mist-net catch at Gedney. The small team included three people who were on the Wash for the first time. Aron and Alyce had been out on the marsh in the afternoon to plan the catch and to leave guiding sticks to help the team to find the route later in the dark. Aron and Alyce had also prepared supper for those that wanted food and plans were made for timings with a realisation that a 04.37 high tide necessitated leaving the base at midnight! The equipment was packed into three cars before the team headed to bed for a short sleep.
Friday 17 November
This was a second weekend for the group with no opportunity for making a cannon net catch. However, there was a double opportunity for mist netting, along with the usual colour ring resighting on one tide. The mist netting sessions were initially planned for the high tides on both Saturday morning and Saturday evening but, as with all WWRG field trips, this was dependent on the weather.