Thursday, 5 November 2015

Ringers Report - October 2015

A monthly roundup of ringing highlights from young birders, whether it be birds ringed, rings read or controlled in the field or ringing recoveries reported from elsewhere. Bird movements are amazing!

Tim Jones, 24 - Spurn Bird Obs, East Yorkshire
Magical Spurn in mid-October, we struck gold on the 12th October during a morning's ringing at Kew. It started well with a steady flow of Goldcrests then a Radde's Warbler dropped into one of the nets, just a few hours later a Red-flanked Bluetail appeared on the fence in front of me! It gave other birders the run around before it was chased into the Heligoland trap by a Robin, a stunning 1w(3) female, (pointed tail shape and lack of blue in lesser coverts and duller blue-tail) a morning not to be forgotten and we finished on a 2-day total of 485 Goldcrests!

Espen Quinto-Ashman, 18 - North Ronaldsay Bird Obs, Scotland
The month got off to a great start with a surprise ringing tick of a juvenile Storm Petrel. Throughout the month, numbers were provided by falls of Redwing (early on mostly consisting of the paler Scandi/Russian race Iliacus and later in the month the darker Icelandic race Corburni), Blackbird and Goldcrest. Some of the more interesting species ringed included 2 Ring Ouzel, a Siberian Chiffchaff, Bramblings, a Yellow-browed Warbler and even a juvenile Gannet!

Daniel Wade, 2 - Getteröns Fågelstation, Sweden
I have been at Getteröns fågelstation in Varberg, Sweden for the duration of October as the resident ringer for the observatory.I ringed for 28 days out of 31 (the 3 days off due to bad weather) and captured 2405 birds of which I ringed 1600, which is officially my most productive month as a bird ringer to date. A fantastic site, with nets in reed bed and more traditional berry filled cover. 948 Robins, 356 Blackcap and 238 Chiffchaff have been ringed in October (the top 3 species for this month). A full report will be made once I have returned to England. Below: Twite and Arctic Redpoll

Dan Rouse - Bury Inlet, Swansea
October was the annual Oystercatcher catch on the Bury. A team of 7 of us set the cannon nets out the night before and were aiming of a catch of around 100-150, once we fired and raced down it was evident that we had underestimated the number. 504 birds later and all were ringed! A number of birds were first ringed before I was even born making them atleast 20 years old, A retrap from the SCAN ringing group up in North Wales which was a funny surprise, a bird from the 1960's and a control bird from Sweden! 
Full report here

Ringing Recoveries

Zac Hinchcliffe, 23
A Lesser Redpoll ringed on Bangor Mountain, Wales has been caught in Romsey, Hampshire. 307km away and 732 days since ringed.

Tim Jones, 24
A flock of Barnacle Geese rested on the beach at Spurn Bird Obs. 2 out of a flock of 97 had darvic rings on from Svalbard, 1 from 2004!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Wader Quest - an introduction by Rick and Elis Simpson

Wader Quest is a charity that aims to encourage more people to get involved in Community Wader Conservation projects by highlighting the need for such projects and for those that can’t get directly involved, to do so indirectly through Wader Quest.

I have been a birder nearly all my life - some 50 odd years, in that time life has become less tolerable for birds and not least among them the waders. While I have been alive 60% of the intertidal zone in the Yellow Sea has been destroyed, Lapwings have tumbled by 50% in the UK and now 48% of all known wader populations are in decline. The realisation that all is not well with the waders is a relatively new one, we watched from the sidelines as the Slender-billed Curlew slipped through our fingers, only reacting when it was too late.

Northern Lapwing 50% decline in the UK in 30 years

It was the Spoon-billed Sandpiper that brought everything into sharp focus, it became an iconic symbol of all that was, and is, going wrong and in looking at the threats which were nudging it ever closer to extinction, we realised that the same threats were also having a devastating effect on other previously common wader species.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Thailand.

If you were to go out into your local high street and stop 100 passers-by and ask them to name a natural environment that was being destroyed at an unsustainable rate, of those that would have the slightest notion of what you are talking about (such is the disconnect between people and the environment these days) I can almost guarantee that 100% of them would cite rainforests in one form or another.

The chronic problem that rainforest face is unrelenting, it has been going on all my life, it has been widely publicised and has been given much attention by conservationists with varying degrees of success, however the same cannot be said of the intertidal zone and other, mostly wetland habitats, upon which our favourite birds depend. For many years, these have been swallowed up piecemeal, the cumulative effect of which has been devastating and it all happened under the radar. Only now, due to one little enigmatic bird, when the problem has become acute and pivotal, has it come to our attention; hopefully though it is not too late.

It’s easy to turn people onto forest conservation, not so easy when you are trying to save mud! Photo: Elis Simpson

With the aim of widening awareness about these issues, Wader Quest devised and created, with the support of Birdwatching Magazine, the Wader Conservation November initiative. This is a series of events designed to draw attention to the plight of waders around the world and what better way to start it off than a world-wide event?

On the 7th and 8th of November this year we are inviting people around the world to go out and look at waders. We then ask them to let us know what they have seen. For our part we will compile a list of the waders seen around the world and participants will have their name published on the Wader Quest website in a roll of honour. They will also be entered into a Prize Daw, the prize of which is a wonderful signed Lars Jonsson wader poster and a set of Wader Quest wader pin badges.

Does it matter if you don’t see a huge number of species? Does it matter if you just see common species? Not one bit of it, a contribution containing a single abundant species is just as valid as one with several exotic species and this is because it is the taking part that is important, by doing so you are saying ‘Yes! I care!’

Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Hooded Plover  and Magellanic Plover; our three main projects so far. Photo: Elis Simpson

We also have initiated the first ever wader festivals in the UK at two locations, the Wirral Wader Festival (14th and 15th November) and the Wash Wader Festival (28th and 29th November); both are celebrations of areas of immense importance to waders in the UK and it would be fantastic to see some NGB members there to help us celebrate.

As young people you will want to believe that as you get older there will still be places such as these to celebrate, Elis and I are passionate about our waders and will continue to fight for their collective survival for as long as we can and we hope that you will also want to do the same so that, when you are our age, you will still be able to share the swirling flocks of waders and the huge high tide roosts they settle down to become with the next generation of birders that will follow behind you.

We must not let this become a thing of the past.
Becoming a Friend of Wader Quest costs just £5.00 a year; we hope that this low rate will make anyone who wants to, feel they are able to be part of our growing community of wader loving friends. Wader Quest is totally voluntary and 100% of all donations and Friends’ fees are used to assist lower budget wader conservation and research projects.