Monitoring Bar-tailed Godwits on The Wash

Bar-tailed Godwits (Limosa lapponica) are large waders which have a wide distribution across several continents. Five subspecies are currently recognised plus a sixth recently proposed as yamalensis (Appleton 2021). Bar-tailed Godwits are long-distance migrants and one subspecies (baueri) makes an incredible non-stop migration from Alaska to New Zealand over the Pacific Ocean lasting many days.

Two populations of Bar-tailed Godwit use The Wash: lapponica breeds from northern Fennoscandia eastwards to western Russia and the Taymyr peninsula and moults on The Wash in autumn, with most birds staying to spend the winter; taymyrensis breeds further east reaching central Siberia and passes through The Wash on migration to its wintering sites, as far south as West Africa.

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WWRG is changing its name!

WWRG had been operating as a Ringing Group since its inception. In consultation with its members, it was decided that becoming a charity would secure the Group’s longer-term future and allow it to take advantage of new opportunities to support our work. Alongside this we are changing our name to Wash Wader Research Group to better reflect the range of activities we do.

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It was good to be back…

Our third week started with the next aerial count; this one was setting out from Cape May at 08:00 hrs. We were all on site on time and got some counts done before the plane came over at the expected time. Strangely, the plane didn’t do the second pass over Mispillion, which is the usual protocol. There were good numbers of Knot on Back Beach, so the Mispillion count team stayed out to resight there, as did the Brock team, while Cathy and Lys went out to trap the PIPLs at Fowler’s. With relatively good resighting in Mispillion through the day there were three boat trips, with the last crew leaving when it started to get dark – the rest of us ate our frittata before they got back!

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WWRG: back in the Bay

So it’s three years since the WWRG team last came out to Delaware. Back then we bought our plane tickets and booked cars early as we were sure we would be coming over – then the World shut down… The only good thing was we got most of the costs of the flights and cars back. Into lockdown and virtually no fieldwork – it’s been a rough two years in many ways and we are still not out of the woods now – but we’re very grateful for vaccinations. This year we had to do supervised Covid tests and are living in a ‘bubble’ in a separate house – although we can use the basement of Penguin Manor to go and do data entry, but there is not too much of that yet.

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