Fieldwork August 2023

Decoy making weekend 29–30 July

Before The Wash week began, a dedicated team got together at Nigel and Jacquie’s house to make up a batch of decoy birds to aid us with future catches. The end product is a life-like model which we can place in the catching area, during cannon-netting, to attract birds. Nigel was an excellent teacher and we all learnt so much, not only about how to make a decoy, but about the fascinating anatomy of the birds. Those on the weekend were Ryan, Molly, Kirsty, Nigel, Jacquie, Katharine, Flo, Lucy, James, David, Sam and Skye.

We also had good fun helping Jacquie and Nigel with their CES at Hinderclay Fen and caught the first Sedge Warbler and Kingfisher for the year!

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Looking for Knot – Iceland May 2023

Whilst several group members were undertaking fieldwork on Knot ssp rufa staging on migration in Delaware Bay (USA) along the Atlantic Flyway, two group members were part of an international team in Iceland surveying Knot ssp islandica staging on migrationalong the East Atlantic Flyway. The Iceland team comprised Knot enthusiasts from Norway, The Netherlands, Ireland, Scotland, and England, representing several of the countries where Knot have been colour-marked over the last few years.

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Fieldwork March 2023 (part 2)

Friday 24 March

Noble pioneers, Guy, Kirsty and Ryan joined the sunrise to recce a number of sites ahead of the main party. Ryan’s recce yielded more ducks and geese than waders at Gedney and Kirsty’s exploration of the beach at Snettisham was even more disappointing, with a dearth of birds. Thankfully, Guy, found flock of 230 Oystercatchers at Heacham South, 150 m south of the tump and another flock of 60 further south. However, Heacham South was busy with walkers and dogs and the Oystercatchers were very mobile as a result. The same could not be said of a flock of 500 Sanderling and 30 Turnstone at Heacham North North which demonstrated remarkable tolerance of disturbance and settled on a ridge on the beach for at least 40 minutes from 08:00 hrs, unwittingly identifying themselves as the best possible target for the following morning.

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Why The Wash is so important for Curlew: selected stories from over 60 years of Wader Study

Curlew are declining so alarmingly that they are now ‘Red-Listed’ as birds of conservation concern. The Wash is one of the two main UK sites for both passage and wintering Eurasian Curlew (the other being Morecambe Bay – WeBS data). Autumn passage birds use the intertidal mudflats to feed on polychaete worms, shellfish and Green Crabs. Some birds will move on to smaller sites around the Norfolk coast, the southwest of England, and northwest France. Here they will spend the winter before returning to their breeding grounds. The majority of Curlew using the Wash breed in Finland and Sweden, a migratory journey of over 1,000 miles. There is more background information on our Curlew page.

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Fieldwork January 2023

Friday 20 January

At 13:00 Mark went to recce on Heacham South beach. At this time the tide had a long way to come back in and there were lots of Oystercatchers out on the mud. Strong onshore wind and waves caused the birds to come quickly off the mud and onto the beach. Mark observed five separate groups of about 100 each. Some of the birds moved right up to the previous tide line before high tide arrived while three of the groups stayed at the water’s edge. Unhappy with the large amount of people and dog walkers on the beach, many birds flew off to Snettisham Pits; however, Mark stayed until after dark (around 16:30), by which point the number of people had reduced, and despite the strong wind there were still Oystercatchers on the grot line.

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