Cannon-net training course

I have been working towards my cannon-net endorsement for just over two years, aiming to get to as many cannon-net catches as possible to gain experience in different kinds of scenarios, catching different species and being out in the field with various licence holders. Work, travel and home life often curtail the number of catches I would like to attend and up to now, due to the nature of my work, most of the cannon-net catches I have been involved in have been focussed on catching wildfowl species such as Bewick’s Swans, Pink-footed Geese and Red-breasted Geese. During September 2018, I was fortunate to find myself heading to China to assist global efforts in learning more about the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper and it was on this trip, led by Wash Wader Ringing Group (WWRG) members, that my eyes were opened to the cannon-netting and ringing of wader species. For the first part of the trip, I was literally like a ‘duck out of water’ as I watched in awe the experienced team go about the planning, catching and processing of large numbers of Asian wader species.

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Fieldwork February 2019

Friday 22 February

Alex and Aron headed to Snettisham and Heacham South beaches to recce at first light on Friday morning. Upon arrival at Heacham beach (06:15) there were c. 200 Curlew roosting along the tide edge in a thin line extending along the shore. At Snettisham Aron had c. 300 Oystercatchers. The visibility was initially quite poor due to mist over the coast, but it soon burnt off and an ‘oil slick’ of mainly Oystercatchers was sighted on Heacham South beach. The flock was made up of 2,000+ Oystercatchers, 100+ Sanderling, c. 500 godwits, c. 50 Knot, c. 25 Curlew and 5−10 Ringed Plover.

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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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Fieldwork November 2018

Friday 23 November

Prior to the weekend, the plan had changed allowing for a relaxing Friday evening, which is when the majority of the team arrived and had a delicious dinner and dessert, thanks to the cooks. Mist netting had been determined not to be possible due to the time of tide (too early) and the fullness of the moon (too bright).

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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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