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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Spoonies galore

So our second week started with brunch at 11:00 hrs after a few hours sleep following our first overnight mist-netting session. We headed out to recce/scan the new waterpark (under development) and the rice paddies at Taoizini to look for both mist-netting options for that night on the paddy fields and future canon-netting options on the water park. We set nets on two rice paddies again and had another amazing night with with 299 birds caught including six Spoon-billed Sandpipers (SBS) – amazing. Back to the hotel and bed at dawn this time – strange, we are becoming largely nocturnal, but are also up during the day…

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WWRG members helping Spoonies

Since the early days of WWRG group members have headed out across the world to help on wader projects elsewhere. This year is no exception and this month group members are part of a team working in Jiangsu on the Yellow Sea in China. The team, working with Nanjing Normal University, is aiming to catch and mark Spoon-billed Sandpipers (SBS) to find out more about where this endangered and charismatic species goes, as well as being able to work out population size. We are also aiming to catch a range of other shorebird species, both to assist local studies and to help train other members of the team.

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WWRG goes east to help ‘Spoonies’

Since the early days of the Group, as well as catching waders locally, WWRG members have travelled all over world to assist with wader ringing projects and to provide training to other ringers; an important way in which we can help wader conservation. Many ringers from other countries have also been trained by WWRG members on the Wash. The map shows where WWRG members have travelled to (maroon) and where other ringers have travelled from to train with us (green); where both categories apply, the country is coloured blue.

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