Fieldwork October 2021: Part 2 – the younger generation

The following trip report was written by Sebastian Cooksey, age 14

BOOM! The cannons fired and the best weekend of my life had just started. After lying for around an hour in the grass, we suddenly rushed to our feet and were running to the catch. From first glance, we realised it was a wet catch, nonetheless we waded into the water and started the process of ushering the birds up onto the drier beach. Water flooded into my wellies, but the excitement overpowered the discomfort. When the birds were all up on the beach, nicely rolled into a pocket, we could calm down. I could appreciate what we had caught, lots of pearl-white Sanderlings mixed in with a few Ringed Plovers. We could now start the extracting process and I was going to just stand and watch the experienced ringers have the fun, but Rob encouraged me to go do some extracting and before long I had three Sanderlings in my hand ready to put in keeping boxes. I was really grateful that Rob encouraged me to get involved and I feel like all the other people I met on this trip were all just as welcoming and trusting. This is what made me enjoy this weekend so much.

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Fieldwork October 2021

Plan for the weekend

This was always going to be a challenging weekend! We had a number of targets and hoped to achieve some of them. The weather forecast was for it to be mild, with light winds, but foggy nights and early mornings.

We had arranged for BBC AutumnWatch to come out and film our work but they could only make the Saturday morning. We had still failed to catch a single Curlew on our east shore study area and had ten GPS/GSM tags to deploy. This is the single largest expenditure on a project that the group had made (£12,000) in its 60-year history so we did not want to have to leave them in a box until next year. We then had an Oystercatcher tag that had already been on two Oystercatchers and had just been found on a beach after the silicone harness had broken (as they are meant to do).

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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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Is climate change affecting Wash waders?

As CoP26 (the 26th annual Conference of Parties signed up to the UN’s Convention on Climate Change) gets underway in Glasgow, all eyes are on the global response to climate changes and whether national governments can come together to reduce global Carbon emissions sufficiently to avert some of the frightening effects predicted of ‘Business as Usual’. With most world leaders and tens of thousands of delegates discussing everything from atmospheric physics to social justice, such gatherings can seem a world away from the tranquil vistas of The Wash. But already we are seeing the effects of climate change, and the data archives of the Group, as well as research by Wash Group members has been vital in documenting these.

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