Fieldwork September 2021

Monday 6 September

On Monday the team started to gather properly around lunch time as plans had been made to try for a catch of Grey Plover at Gedney that evening. Cathy had been at the Norfolk base for a couple of days so the house was well set up and ready for everyone to arrive, which soon included Tim, and they got the ‘party tent’ up and ready outside. Katharine arrived next followed by Caroline and Hilary and soon Steve, Alex, Luke, Sarah and Chris were also there. Tents were put up by those who needed them and a baked potato lunch was well appreciated by all (thank you Cathy!). The net set was sorted out for the evening’s catch and, once Sabine arrived, the team headed off to Gedney around 2.20 pm meeting Richard, Ryan and Lizzie there. The single net was set out on the pool identified at the previous Wash week and soon the team was waiting under a tarp for the tide to bring the birds in. Sadly the birds just weren’t quite settled and, with the tide in, the team had to give up for the day and headed home to dinner. During dinner it was confirmed that the licensees thought it was worth a second try at Gedney in the morning so soon everyone headed to bed.

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Fieldwork August 2021

Saturday 21 August

The team started to arrive around midday with Cathy being the first with Katharine soon after (to claim the best tent spots), soon followed by Nigel, Jacquie, Sam and Skye. Once tents were up and rooms claimed, the first action was to get the ‘party tent’ up outside on the patio. The marquee had been borrowed to allow for an extra covered space outside and it neatly fitted in the gap between the buildings. A little later Barrie, Ian, Rob and Kirsty arrived for lunch and initial plans for the week started to be made, beginning with recces in the afternoon at several sites to get the lay of the land wader-wise. Sam and Ian went to Snettisham, Katharine and Barrie to Ken Hill, Kirsty and Nigel to Gedney and Rob and Jacquie to Heacham North North.

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Using data to make a difference

Birth, and copulation, and death.
That’s all the facts when you come to brass tacks:
Birth, and copulation, and death.
I’ve been born, and once is enough.

Although not involved in bird study, these lines from T. S. Eliot encapsulate our current studies of wader populations on The Wash. Bird populations are sustained by recruitment of fledged young into the adult population at an equal rate to the death of individual adults. More recruitment than deaths equals more birds. Unfortunately, the opposite is currently occurring in Eurasian Curlew, which is experiencing population decline. This could be due to not enough chicks being raised to adulthood from each nesting attempt, or alternatively, it could be due to increased death of adult birds. Knowing which factor is more important allows conservation efforts to be prioritised: do we need to protect Curlew nests to improve chick survival or do we need to enhance protection of wintering Curlew to improve adult survival? A recently published paper has explored one part of the equation – survival in Curlew – using data from The Wash, as well as other wader ringers around Britain and Ireland.

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Re-sighting during the Covid-19 pandemic

The lockdown imposed by the government in response to the Covid-19 pandemic lasted seven weeks during which fieldwork, including ringing and re-sighting, across the UK came to a standstill. WWRG had just completed their winter field work with the final catching weekend of the season having taken place in mid-March. Trips for several members of WWRG to Delaware and to Iceland were cancelled and opportunities for re-sighting on the Wash were all curtailed during the final weeks of spring 2020 as we were all told to stay at home. Garden ringing and local walks (hopefully entered into Birdtrack) became the norm.

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