WWRG in Delaware – part 1

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 

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March 2018 wader resighting

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.

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January resighting weekend

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.

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Foreign visitors

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.

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December mist netting

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.

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