Fieldwork August 2023

Decoy making weekend 29–30 July

Before The Wash week began, a dedicated team got together at Nigel and Jacquie’s house to make up a batch of decoy birds to aid us with future catches. The end product is a life-like model which we can place in the catching area, during cannon-netting, to attract birds. Nigel was an excellent teacher and we all learnt so much, not only about how to make a decoy, but about the fascinating anatomy of the birds. Those on the weekend were Ryan, Molly, Kirsty, Nigel, Jacquie, Katharine, Flo, Lucy, James, David, Sam and Skye.

We also had good fun helping Jacquie and Nigel with their CES at Hinderclay Fen and caught the first Sedge Warbler and Kingfisher for the year!

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Fieldwork March 2023 (part 2)

Friday 24 March

Noble pioneers, Guy, Kirsty and Ryan joined the sunrise to recce a number of sites ahead of the main party. Ryan’s recce yielded more ducks and geese than waders at Gedney and Kirsty’s exploration of the beach at Snettisham was even more disappointing, with a dearth of birds. Thankfully, Guy, found flock of 230 Oystercatchers at Heacham South, 150 m south of the tump and another flock of 60 further south. However, Heacham South was busy with walkers and dogs and the Oystercatchers were very mobile as a result. The same could not be said of a flock of 500 Sanderling and 30 Turnstone at Heacham North North which demonstrated remarkable tolerance of disturbance and settled on a ridge on the beach for at least 40 minutes from 08:00 hrs, unwittingly identifying themselves as the best possible target for the following morning.

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Delaware 2023: 18-24 May

Thursday 18 May

Week two of shorebird fieldwork for the WWRG team in Delaware Bay began with the team’s third cannon-net catch… At a very relaxed 09:10, a setting team set off in the Jon boat into Mispillion Harbour and made for Back Beach. Meanwhile another group readied the Skiff with the rest of the equipment by making the most impressive chain to shift everything from the pickup truck into the boat. It was a shame this wasn’t caught on video! This swift method is now used at every opportunity, with great enthusiasm and to great effect.

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Delaware 2023: 10 – 17 May

Wednesday 10 May

The first team of Brits made it safely across the sea and by the evening were looking over Mispillion Harbour in Delaware Bay, a long way from the UK. The sun dipped lower in the sky and the calls of Laughing Gulls filled the air as shorebirds foraged on the shores. For those who had come many times before, there was definitely a sense of returning to a familiar home. Jet-lag fatigue setting in, it wasn’t long after we arrived at this year’s WWRG base, on Slaughter Beach, that we all went to bed.

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Fieldwork March 2023 (part 1)

Friday 10 March

Lizzie and Guy braved the freezing winds to recce at first light. Guy walked south from Heacham to view Heacham South beach from one viewpoint, whilst Lizzie walked north from Snettisham car park to check Snettisham and gain a different view of Heacham South. Despite normally being a prime spot for Oystercatchers, only 10 were present close to the usual catching area just south of the tump. Clearly sheltering from the inclement conditions, they were hunkered down amongst the tidewrack at the top of the beach. Guy visited Heacham North, to find another 60 behaving much the same – just 100 m north of the South beach access point. It was noted this was unusual behaviour for the roosting birds, as this area is often very busy with visitors. Guy then went on to Heacham North North beach and found 90 Oystercatchers split into three groups – 60, 20 and 10. Additionally, there were ca. 100 Turnstone, Sanderling and Ringed Plover scattered across the beach. Almost no beach was visible at this point, because of the unusually strong wave action and tide height. Again, the birds were right on the upper edge of the beach along the tidewrack – their behaviour clearly being affected by the strong winds.

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