WWRG in China 2019

From almost the beginning of our now over 60-year history, members of the Wash Wader Ringing Group have travelled around the world to help others with wader-catching projects. Part of this work at present involves helping with work on the critically-endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper (SBS; https://www.saving-spoon-billed-sandpiper.com/). This autumn, group members were again part of a team led by Professor Chang Quin of Nanjing Normal University, working in Jiangsu, China. The aims of this year’s autumn passage work were to catch and mark SBS, satellite tag a small number, scan flocks of SBS to work out the proportion of marked to unmarked birds to add to our estimate of the numbers of birds using the area (https://www.waderstudygroup.org/article/12026/; https://www.waderstudygroup.org/article/12091/) and to mark and measure a range of other species.

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60 years young

Members of the Cambridge Bird Club first started taking interest in the waders using The Wash in the early 1950s. Initially, this interest focused around monitoring and counting the wader populations in winter, but soon included catching attempts using mist nets and clap nets. The Wash Wader Ringing Group was formed during the summer of 1959 when a team, including Clive Minton, persuaded Peter Scott of the Wildfowl Trust to lend them their rocket nets to try catching large groups of waders on ploughed fields; the Group took their first rocket net catch, at Terrington in Norfolk, on 18 August 1959, exactly 60 years ago today. 

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Grey Plover migration

The symbol of the Wash Wader Ringing Group is the Grey Plover – fittingly as we have ringed nearly 60% of the Grey Plover ringed in Britain & Ireland to date. However, we have recorded fewer than 50 international exchanges, so our knowledge of where they go is limited – as it is in the rest of NW Europe. 

To address this knowledge gap, researchers on the Waddensea have satellite tagged and followed 11 Grey Plover caught there and have gathered much more detailed information. The satellite tracks show individuals going up to Yamal and Taimyr (Russia) to breed, with wintering locations including the Waddensea, Ireland, France, Portugal and Guinea Bissau. This fascinating paper is free to view on the journal website.

Delaware news – the final instalment

So the season is coming to an end, but we had plans to catch Knot on Back Beach to check if they had reached departure weights. We got the net set quickly near the camera and were able to view it from a boat to check safety and further up the beach to check numbers. We counted the Knot in and when we had a sample (50 birds), made a dry catch with samples of Knot (47), Turnstone (93) and Semis (43). As we thought, the birds were heavy (the Sanderling are almost spherical and waddling now), with some Knot well over 200 g, so we extracted and processed quickly before spending the evening watching migration from the Dupont Nature Center (DNC) – it’s certainly underway.

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Delaware news – part 4

Election day at home led to discussion in the Shorebird House as proxies had to be instructed. Then out to do resighting and surveys as we are in a new survey period, before showers and clean clothes to head up north (with a side trip to Bombay Hook in a thunderstorm for some) for our, now traditional, BBQ with Dave and Marg – a great time as usual, with food, drink, discussion and fireflies.

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