Devon and Cornwall Wader Ringing Group

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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.

Species Ringed Retraps Controls Colour ringed GPS tagged
Oystercatcher 1 0 0 1 0
Curlew 19 0 2 19 16
Redshank 33 0 0 0 0
Dunlin 3 0 0 3 0
8th October 2021 – High Tide 4.12 @ 08:43, Sunrise – 07:26

After a lot of behind-the-scenes organisation from the team leaders it was decided that we were going to go ahead with the second planned catching attempt for the 2021/22 season.

With a large team assembled we were able to catch 58 Oystercatchers, 28 Dunlin, 4 Grey Plover and 3 Ringed Plover. To further the study of how Oystercatcher are using the Exe Estuary, most were colour-ringed and a further five GPS tags were deployed. All the Dunlin and Grey Plover were also colour-ringed and we look forward to receiving reports of these birds over the forthcoming winter.

Species Ringed Retraps Controls Colour ringed GPS tagged
Oystercatcher 52 5 1 50 5
Dunlin 28 0 0 28 0
Grey Plover 4 0 0 4 0
Ringed Plover 3 0 0 0 0

We got a third successful cannon net catch under our belts at the weekend, we caught 50 Oystercatchers and a Bar-tailed Godwit. Three of the Oystercatchers were already colour-ringed, and we colour ringed the remaining 47.

oystercatcher AC 28 09 2019Colour-ringed Oystercatcher 'AC'A further 10 adult Oystercatchers were fitted with GPS tags, which is fantastic and will hopefully generate a lot of useful data over the coming winters. We had hoped for a catch of around 200 birds, which would have given us a good chance of catching enough juveniles to be able to GPS tag a sample of this years birds. However, the tide did not reach its expected height which gave the birds other roost options away from the selected catch area, so we did well to take any catch in the circumstances. As we didn’t catch any juveniles, we held back 10 tags to deploy when hopefully we catch some during mist netting sessions.

Species Ringed Retraps Controls Colour ringed GPS tagged
Oystercatcher 47 3 0 47 0

Project Background

Over recent years the wintering Oystercatcher population has declined significantly in the UK, but this decline has been even greater on the Exe estuary.  A number of factors are suspected to be causing this decline, some relate to the estuary, some at larger scales. The colour-ringing project that we are running should help determine what factors are causing the population decline; and to what extent birds from the SPA use the surrounding landscape. The results will help indicate what, if any, actions can undertaken to help reverse declines.

Oystercatchers are faithful to wintering sites so the birds you have seen here years ago may be the same ones now. The oldest Dawlish Warren Oystercatcher on record is at least 36 years old, last seen in Jan 2018.

If you see a bird with one of our colour rings, please use the form on this website to send us the details (ring-code, date, location, species) or you can send email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cannon netting totals

2017-2018 winter totals

Species Ringed Retraps Controls Colour ringed
Oystercatcher 183 7 0 150

2018-2019 winter totals

Species Ringed Retraps Controls Colour ringed
Oystercatcher 47 5 1 53

2019-2020 winter totals

Species Ringed Retraps Controls Colour ringed
Oystercatcher 47 3 0 47

2021-2022 winter totals

Species Ringed Retraps Controls Colour ringed
Oystercatcher 53 5 1 51
Curlew 19 0 2 19
Redshank 33 0 0 0
Dunlin 31 0 0 31
Grey Plover 4 0 0 4
Ringed Plover 3 0 0 0

Grand totals

Species Ringed Retraps Controls Colour ringed
Oystercatcher 330 20 2 301
Curlew 19 0 2 19
Redshank 33 0 0 0
Dunlin 31 0 0 31
Grey Plover 4 0 0 4
Ringed Plover 3 0 0 0

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