Colour-mark resighting bonanza

Friday 6 October – Sunday 8 October  

With many of the usual team members away in faraway places, poorly or with car troubles, a small team collected at the fieldwork house with plans for a weekend of colour-ring resighting and the possibility of a mist netting session on Saturday evening. The likelihood of mist nesting was always doubtful due to an unsettled weather forecast. The forecast had deteriorated by mid-morning on Saturday and a decision was made that this would not go ahead.

With the mist netting cancelled, it was agreed that we would use the incoming evening tide to undertake further resighting opportunities. Resighting was therefore undertaken on three consecutive tides, covering an area from the Snettisham RSPB reserve (Snettisham pits) to Hunstanton. The group has learned a lot over the past couple of years regarding times and places for colour ring resighting and put this information to good use over this weekend. Snettisham pits and the fields inland from Heacham appear to offer the best opportunities at high tide, particularly for Black-tailed Godwit and Curlew respectively. The mud flats of Snettisham and Heacham uncover approximately two and a half hours after high tide providing a small window for resighting birds on the falling tide.

Resighting totals over the weekend: 

Species WWRG – sightings WWRG – individual birds Other schemes – sightings Other schemes – individual birds Total number of sightings Total number of individual birds
Curlew 122 69 122 69
Bar-tailed Godwit 10 7 1 1 11 8
Black-tailed Godwit 1 1 2 2 3 3
Oystercatcher  – 2 2 2 2
Avocet  –  – 2 1 2 1
Turnstone 6 5  – 6 5
Total 139 82 7 6 146 88

Information has already been received on the three Black-tailed Godwits resighted.

  1. Ringed by WWRG at Terrington on 13th September 2014. In the intervening three years, this bird has been seen at North Warren in Suffolk, Voglalaeker in West Iceland (in April 2015), Mucking flats in Essex and Leighton Moss in Lancashire.
  2. Ringed in Iceland on 14th July 2008, this bird has been sighted on 39 occasions, mainly in Holland and Eastern England with sightings on the Wash in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
  3. Ringed in Iceland on 5th July 2007, this bird has been sighted on 59 occasions with early sightings in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, Ireland and France.  Since 2008, this bird appears to have settled for wintering in Eastern England with most sightings from Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

This weekend demonstrated the flexibility of the Wash Wader Ringing Group in its determination to gather data on the wader populations using the Wash. Although no birds were ringed during the course of the weekend, data was gathered on 82 of our birds and a further six birds from other schemes. Whilst data on Wash birds takes precedence, contributions to that of other ringing schemes enables us to be part of the wider wader research and to promote our group.

It seemed that everyone enjoyed the weekend including those who were new to the group. Wash weekends can be very busy with little sleep. During this weekend, we worked hard during field work sessions but there was also time to relax and chat over meals and a glass of beer or two. We even had time to sleep!

Thank you to Emily for being our team leader for the weekend and to Rob P for masterminding the colour-ring resighting teams. Also thanks to Alex for the lovely meals.