Sunday, 20 November 2016

Western Sandpipers eat goo!

New research has taught us something fairly unbelievable about what Western Sandpipers Calidris mauri eat to help them on their northward migration along the western coast of North America.

Dr Robert Elner has spent some time watching Western Sandpipers on the Fraser River estuary, more than twenty years to be more precise, and he observed that although some waders followed the ebbing tide all the way out to feed, some of the smaller ones did not. They remained in an area further up the mud flat and went no further. This puzzled him, as well it might.

What he observed was that the area where the Western Sandpipers were feeding was covered with a green slime and he wondered if this had something to do with their choice of feeding spot.

Determined to find out he observed the birds closely and found that they seemed to be slurping up the goo. Investigating further he discovered that the stomach content of the Western Sandpipers was almost entirely comprised of the green slush and there were, contrary to expectations, few crustaceans, molluscs and other invertebrate food stuff.

He asked Prof. Peter Beninger to study the mouth-parts of the Western Sandpiper very closely and he discovered that they have feathery tongues and that within these feathery filaments were lodged many particles of the goo.

This is a Western Sandpiper on the east coast of North America; is it lapping goo too?

So awhat is this goo? Well it is technically called Biofilm.

Biofilm is made up of things called Diatoms which create their own food from sunlight; carbohydrates and omega 3 fatty acids. They also secrete a sticky substance which binds them together and to the mud so they can withstand the ebb and flow of the tide water. The Western Sandpipers use their feathery tongues to slurp this stuff up and it provides them with sufficient energy to fly on north for another 1000km to their breeding grounds in the Arctic. 

Friday, 4 November 2016

We are at Walney Wader Festival for Wader Conservation World Watch this weekend.

Walney Wader Festival takes place form 10 - 4 each day 5th and 6th at Cumbria Wildlife Trust's South Walney Nature Reserve.

We will be running our Wader Conservation World Watch from there, obviously going to go out and see the local waders too.

This a last call and reminder for everyone who loves and appreciates waders to show world-wide solidarity with other wader lovers by joining together in this global event details here.

If you are in the north-east of England come and say hello and visit this wonderful reserve, if not go and see the waders or shorebirds in your neck of the woods wherever in the world you may be and send an email to with your list to participate.

Don't forget the prize draw for all participants details here.

Also don't forget Eury the Spoon-billed Sandpiper will be on the telly this Saturday night! Well, OK not in person, but there is a wonderful documentary which will feature the struggle of the Spoon-billed Sandpipers to survive.

The programme China: Between Clouds and Dreams is on Channel 4 at 7.00pm Saturday night (1st of 5 episodes). If you can't be in to watch it, set your recorders up now, or find it on watch again facilities and learn why saving the Spoon-billed Sandpiper is so important to us.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Wader Conservation World Watch Prize Draw!!!!

Join the Wader Conservation World Watch and enter this free Prize Draw 

Draw will be made on 15th November to give everyone a fair chance to get their list to us and enter.

1st prize: Opticron Explorer WA Oasis-C                                                                   8x42binoculars (SRP £209.00)

2nd prize: Signed Lars Jonsson 100 x 70cm Common Gull Poster.

3rd prize: Eury the Spoon-billed Sandpiper book signed by both authors and the artist.

In addition one lucky winner in Australia will win a Milly Formby print of a Pied Oystercatcher (organised by Grace Maglio)