Friday, 5 February 2016

Vote for Magellanic Plover on Arkive

Calling all Friends, Sponsors and supporters of Wader Quest.

We call upon you to vote for the Magellanic Plover that we have nominated for 

World’s Favourite Underappreciated Species

A project for Valentine's Day, show your love for the Maggies.

In order to cast your vote for this amazing and little understood species you just need to:
  • go to the link below, 
  • scroll down until you find the Magellanic Plover photo
  • click on Vote now
  • add your email address (only one vote per person)
  • answer the location questions (Country state/county)
  • select a Why do you love this species answer from menu (suggest because it is poorly known/mysterious)
  • confirm your vote.
It's that easy, no writing, just selecting from drop down menus; simple. Let's see the Magellanic Plover become just a little better known and hopefully that will help us to raise money to study it further and if necessary, protect it.

Show your love for the Magellanic Plover 
by giving it your vote.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Garden Route Shorebird Conservation project update.

The Garden Route Shorebird Conservation project is well into it's second field season, with a multitude of international intern participants working alongside project manager Selena Flores and Nature's Valley Trust director Dr. Mark Brown. As of late January, there have been nearly 80 White-fronted Plover nesting attempts from 40 pairs on beaches in the Greater Plettenberg Bay region of South Africa's Western Cape. 

Some of the plovers have become habituated to the researchers, particularly Selena Flores. This male came and sat on the nest just as Selena finished checking the eggs. He was then caught, using only bare hands, to be ringed!

Only a small number of nests have survived, however, with a mere 6 chicks having fledged thus far across the 25km of field sites. Though these numbers are quite bleak, they do highlight the continued need for research of this nature. 

Adorable White-fronted Plover chicks, a mere two days old.

It will be paramount to devise and implement appropriate, effective conservation measures to strike a balance between the coastal tourism activity that sustains the economy of the area, while also ensuring adequate productivity of shorebirds in the area. The research team has been gathering an immense amount of useful data over an intense field season, that will surely inform various facets of the project, from baseline breeding ecology of White-fronted Plovers, to the best approach for a planned conservation awareness and intervention programme in the coming years. 

Eggs are weighed and floated during the course of incubation, to determine if they are still viable and progressing properly through development. Heat exposure is a big risk with ground-nesting shorebirds on heavily disturbed beaches, with eggs found to reach temperatures above 50C in less than 20 minutes! This egg is nearly halfway through incubation, and the voracious female was very interested in what the researchers were doing with her eggs.

For more information, "Like" the Nature's Valley Trust on Facebook, or contact If you'd like to make a much needed and appreciated contribution to this project, please go to:

During peak breeding season, field sites experience a wide range of activity. Many nests, little chicks, big chicks (like this one), fledglings, and loafing non-breeding floaters all share the same beaches! 
A rare 3-chick brood running back to their parents after being ringed. You can see why they are so difficult to spot!

Adult female White-fronted Plover. 
Disturbance is not the only human-related risk these shorebirds face. This nest was laid near a large tangle of discarded fishing line; there have been several instances of plover entanglements this season. 
A bit of good news; a surviving ringed fledgling from the project! Doing a bit of birdy yoga...

Many adults and chicks have been ringed this season, creating a great study population that can be easily re-sighted and identified by researchers, birders, and the public alike! This adult female with a yellow colour ring is affectionately called "Taryn," after the boat she would usually nest near.
Last year Wader quest teamed up with Opticron to supply some optics for use on the Nature's Valley Trust project that is looking at the effect of human disturbance on beach nesting birds. The birds that are the subject of this study are White-fronted Plover and African Black Oystercatcher. 

African Black Oystercatcher.

We receive thanks from the projects that we support in a variety of ways, but this has to be the most imaginative so far!

Garden Route Shorebird Conservation team (L to R) Alex Cook, Selena Flores, Twan Slagter and Craig Midgley. Photo: Selena Flores 

Monday, 1 February 2016

World Wetland Day

Wetlands are under enormous pressure across the world. Destruction and draining, pollution and over use for recreation are all responsible. You will notice that these, along with climate change, are all things that we, the human race, are responsible for. We have to stop this selfish and aggressive attack on anything that does not make us a quick profit... now!

This time last year Elis and I visited our local wetlands. There are many famous and major wetlands across the country and the world, but it is these small, local wetlands that are most vulnerable and it is the local communities who are the custodians of these places and also the ones who stand to lose the most if they disappear.

One of the places we visited last year was Linford Lakes Nature Reserve which is now run by the Milton Keynes Parks Trust (MKPT).

Linford Lakes Nature Reserve.

This place was once a real mecca for waders. There were about three pairs of Little Ringed Plovers (Charadrius dubius), four pairs of Common Ringed Plovers (Charadrius hiaticula), nine pairs of Northern Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus) and six pairs of Common Redshanks (Tringa totanus) breeding at the site in the 1980s.

Little (left) and Common Ringed Plover

Linford had the distinction of being one of only three breeding sites in Buckinghamshire for the declining redshanks. Today there are no redshanks, lapwings or either species of plover at the site!

Common Redshank a potential return to breeding in our home town is an exciting prospect.

Wader Quest will be working the MKPT to help restore this and other sites to their former glory by management of the habitat and by providing better breeding conditions. Work will start soon with the restoration of plover and lapwing nesting areas on the bund which has become overgrown and unsuitable for waders (see top photo above), and we will be accompanying the development and keenly watching to see the results.

Northern Lapwing has declined by 50% in the last 30 years. We need to provide habitat to reverse this.

Recently we were involved with the Youth Rangers project run by MKPT when they built 40 chick shelters on one of their Saturday sessions, these shelters will be distributed around the various potential wader habitats in the Milton Keynes area. We hope that one day we'll be able to get a cute picture of a chick using one, that would be very satisfying indeed.

One of the chick shelters built by the Parks Trust Youth Rangers ready for deployment.

Happy World Wetland Day, get out there and enjoy your local wetland, the more it is appreciated the easier it'll be to preserve it.