Devon and Cornwall Wader Ringing Group

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Two Curlew fitted with tags provided by Rijkswaterstaat/Bureau Waardenburg at The Skern, Northam on 7 November 2021 have now departed from the Taw-Torridge for their breeding grounds. One seems to be settled in Gloucestershire and the other is in County Durham.

High Tide 4.10m @ 19:23, Sunset 16:10, Rendezvous 14:45

The team gathered on a breezy Sunday afternoon at RSPB Exminster marshes to set a total of 13 mist nets in three separate lines, in preparation for an evening wader mist net catch. The site has a series of fields with newly established flooded pools that the waders come into when it is high tide out on the estuary, and it was across and around one of these pools the nets were set. As forecast, the wind died down during setting, and it was almost perfect conditions for the evening. All the nets were up with plenty of time to spare, and the team went back to the base to wait for dusk.

7th November 2021 – High Tide 6.41m @ 07:03, Sunrise 07:20

A cannon-net attempt on the Taw-Torridge Estuary has been on the fieldwork agenda for DCWRG since shortly after its inception three years ago. As with the Exe, wintering waders in this estuary face increasing pressure from various sources. Hence, Natural England saw it as a priority for our collaborative study to gather data on the use of this estuary and surrounding landscape by Oystercatchers and Curlew. On top of giving us a comparison estuary to the Exe, it expands the DCWRG footprint, brings in a new cohort of contributing ringers, potential colour-mark resighters and raises public awareness about waders in Devon.

Aims

The aims of the Devon and Cornwall Wader Ringing Group are to study the wading birds that live in, or pass through, Devon and Cornwall.

We hope to undertake fieldwork approximately once a month, mainly at weekends, involving either mist-netting or the use of a cannon net. Members of the group live across Britain, although many are based in Devon. A key site for fieldwork is the Exe Estuary and in particular Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve, where we have a project on colour ringed Oystercatcher.

Birds are marked with individually numbered metal leg rings and, to aid relocation without the need to recapture them, with colour rings. Under special license we are also fitting GPS tags to a small number of birds to help understand the way they use the habitats around the estuary through the winter and at different states of the tide.

Links

The Dawlish Warren Recording Group publish regular updates on the birds seen at Dawlish Warren.

The county bird clubs are Devon Birds and the Cornwall Bird Watching and Preservation Society.

Bird ringing in Britain is licensed and coordinated by The British Trust for Ornithology. More information on why we ring birds and why we use colour marks on our study species can be found here. Bird ringing in Europe is coordinated by EURING.

The definitive database of all colour-marking schemes for waders in Europe and the East Atlantic flyway is available on the International Wader Study Group website. All editions of their publications (Wader Study, Wader Study Group Bulletin and International Wader Studies) are available online

For species other than waders the European colour-ring Birding website, voluntarily maintained by Dirk Raes, should be useful.

Join us

The group welcomes volunteer ringers from anywhere who are interested in taking part in the fieldwork, although membership of the group is open to all, whether or not you hold a bird-ringing license. Please bear in mind that we need to have a good balance of experience across the team for each session, but we do our best to accommodate and train the less experienced.

The current membership fee is £5 per year, running from November to October. You can register and join here.

Acknowledgements

The group operates with the excellent support of Teignbridge District Council and Devon Wildlife Trust as landowners of Dawlish Warren. Warren Golf Club kindly allow access across their land.

We are also grateful to he RSPB and David King for allowing us to operate on their land at Exminster Marshes and to Torridge District Council for co-ordinating permissions at Northam Burrows.

The value of the projects would not be fully realised without the excellent re-sighting work undertaken and publicised by the Dawlish Warren Recording Group.

We are grateful to Natural England for funding the rings and GPS tags, and for providing staff time for ongoing management of the projects. We are also grateful to the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) for staff time for fitting the GPS tags, organising the project and dealing with data. Devon Birds have generously provided some funding for colour rings.

Header images on this website are licensed under the Creative Commons license by the photographers.

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