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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Migration on the other side of the world

Wash Wader Ringing Group members have got involved in assisting with other ringing projects, both in the UK and further afield, since our early days. A paper just out online early in the Journal Wader Study describes the results of some work WWRG members have been involved in as part of a large, multi-national team working on the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper across its range. These extremely cute, endangered waders breed in the far east of Russia, then migrate along the East-Asian-Australasian flyway where they also stop to moult, carrying on to the wintering grounds in southern China, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand – a distance of up to 8,000 km from the breeding grounds. The international team is trying to understand why Spoon-billed Sandpipers are declining and to try to halt that decline – and WWRG members are privileged to have been part of that effort.

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WWRG in China 2019

From almost the beginning of our now over 60-year history, members of the Wash Wader Ringing Group have travelled around the world to help others with wader-catching projects. Part of this work at present involves helping with work on the critically-endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper (SBS; https://www.saving-spoon-billed-sandpiper.com/). This autumn, group members were again part of a team led by Professor Chang Quin of Nanjing Normal University, working in Jiangsu, China. The aims of this year’s autumn passage work were to catch and mark SBS, satellite tag a small number, scan flocks of SBS to work out the proportion of marked to unmarked birds to add to our estimate of the numbers of birds using the area (https://www.waderstudygroup.org/article/12026/; https://www.waderstudygroup.org/article/12091/) and to mark and measure a range of other species.

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