Fieldwork – early August 2019 – Norfolk

Thursday 1 August

Lou, Gary and Jean recced on Thursday morning, getting up at 05:00, leaving at 05:30 and arriving at Heacham North North at 06:10. They found 40 Turnstone spread out along with a few Sanderling and saw 800 Oystercatcher on the bend on Heacham South which were tightly clustered until 08:10.

Not much was present on Snettisham beach. Some of the fields behind the sea wall had been cut for hay and baled. The field between the two sea walls had 50 Curlew in, at least five of which had colour rings on. At 08:10 there was another 90 Curlew in the field by the road, which then flew and joined the other 50. There were 1,000 Black-tailed Godwit roosting in the newly landscaped field by the RSPB car park at 09:15, with another 1,000 Black-tailed Godwits feeding amongst the cut hay with 20 Curlew in the field next door.

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Fieldwork January 2019

Friday 25 January

Recces were done on Friday morning but there was poor visibility and although the birds had come up on the rising tide they had left before high water. So a further series of recces was planned for Saturday morning along with the resighting.

During the briefing, as there were a number of participants new to the group, Guy explained the background to our resighting activity. This enables us to get additional information, for instance survival data, on an annual basis and find out which fields and beaches Curlew are using. Reference was also made to driving with care, especially around Sandringham! More of that later…

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Curlew and winter weather

If there is one preoccupation that unites the British above all others, it is discussion of the weather. The variable dominance of arctic maritime, polar maritime, polar continental, tropical maritime and tropical continental air masses cause rapid and variable changes in weather (and much conversation). Wind and rain can severely curtail fieldwork undertaken by the group; consequently following online weather predictions is fast becoming a collective obsession. The cold, snowy spell last year (22 February – 5 March) was so unusual that the press dubbed it ‘The Beast from the East’. This cold wave was officially named ‘Anticyclone Hartmut’, and brought widespread, unusually low temperatures and heavy snowfall to large areas. It combined with Storm Emma, which made landfall in southwest England and southern Ireland on 2 March. A milder repeat episode dubbed the ‘Mini-Beast from the East’ occurred on the weekend of 17 March 2018.

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Oystercatcher Recoveries in 2018

Oystercatcher is the species for which the Wash Wader Ringing Group receives the most recoveries (birds seen or recaught away from the original place of ringing) each year. Of the 45 reports received from the BTO in 2018, 22 were of birds reported in the Britain & Ireland with the other 23 being reported broad. The majority of these were of birds ringed by WWRG and recovered elsewhere but eight were birds that were ringed elsewhere and recaught (or resighted) by WWRG; three of the eight had been ringed in Britain & Ireland whilst the other five were ringed abroad.

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Fieldwork Christmas 2018

The trip didn’t start well with the first possible catch called off before we even got to the Wash. Nigel had a bad back and wasn’t even sure that he would be able to make it to the Wash at all, but definitely couldn’t go cannon netting on the Saturday, so the Friday recce was called off.

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