Thursday, 30 October 2014

A phalaroping we will go!

Earlier this month to celebrate our wedding anniversary Elis and I decided that we should pay a long overdue visit to the RSPB reserves of Frampton Marsh and Freiston Shore in Lincolnshire. By coincidence a Grey Phalarope had been there all week, would it stay and be the icing on the cake?

We didn't however go straight to Lincolnshire, we got a bit side tracked and ended up in Norfolk at Burnham Norton, the attraction being a Steppe Grey Shrike, but that seen we were soon on our way again.

Steppe Grey Shrike Lanius (meridionalis) pallidirostris, Burnham Norton, Norfolk., UK 11/10/2014

We went first to Freiston Shore where the phalarope had been seen all week and met some other birders there who were also looking for it. We took and hour or more to walk all the way around the scrape only to find that that the bird was actually on a pool known as 'The Reservoir' and had flown off while we were looking elsewhere. We decided to go and have a look anyway but as we started out for this body of water an enormous thunderclap overhead followed by a cloud burst made us think twice so we retired for the night and hoped the phalarope would return for us the next day.

Freiston Shore RSPB reserve, Lincolnshire, UK 11/10/2014

In the morning we headed straight for the reservoir. Through the slats of the blind we could see a mass of roosting waders and keen to sift through them even though it was against the light I lifted my bins to look at the middle of the group. And what did I see twirling around immediately behind them? You guessed it, the Grey Phalarope.

Grey Phalarope Phalaropus fulicaria (behind roosting birds). Freiston Shore, Lincolnshire, UK 12/10/2014

By chance we were joined by warden Toby Collett with his children Finley and Neve and we had a really interesting chat about the waders to be found at Freiston and Frampton.

Toby Collett RSPB warden with Finley and Neve.

Toby told us that RSPB reserves have an internal competition for wetland sites called 'The Golden Welly', but I hope he'll write and tell us about that one day so I won't mess the story up by getting it all wrong now.

Grey Phalarope with Eurasian Oystercatchers Haematopus ostralegus and Herring Gull Larus argentatus, Freiston Shore, Lincolnshire, UK 12/10/2014

A large flock of Eurasian Golden Plover flew over, some 600 of them so Toby estimated, some calling as they did so twinkling in the sun, a truly beautiful juxtaposition of sight and sound against the clear blue sky across the brooding, misty, early morning marsh.

Eurasian Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, Freiston Shore, Lincolnshire, UK 12/10/2014

The birds in the flock included; Black-tailed Godwits, Red Knots, Dunlins, Eurasian Oystercatchers, Common Ringed Plovers and a single Common Greenshank.

The roosting flock (just beyond the island) on 'The Reservoir' in the morning light. Freiston Shore, Lincolnshire, UK. 12;10;2014

After this we headed for Frampton Marsh and what a lovely reserve it is too. We strolled around at leisure and ended up sitting peacefully on a bench on the sea wall overlooking the marsh with the sun warming our backs as we watched no less than four Little Stints foraging in among the many Dunlins and Common Ringed Plovers that rippled over the wet mud; adding to the atmosphere somewhere behind us a Eurasian Curlew called, unseen.

Little Stint Calidris minuta, Frampton Marsh RSPB reserve, Lincolnshire, UK 12/10/2014

The other waders we saw there were a single Grey Plover, a small flock of Eurasian Golden Plovers, many Common Redshanks, Ruff, a few Black-tailed Godwits and many Northern Lapwings to my delight. A Curlew Sandpiper was reported, but sadly we didn't come across this one.

Northern Lapwin Vanellus vanellus Frampton Marsh, Lincolnshire 12/10/2014

As we left we sat for a while in the visitor centre where we reported our four stints and had an interesting chat to the two volunteers, one of whom, Daniel, later signed up as a sponsor and made a donation... thanks Daniel you made a great day out even better.

RSPB visitor centre Frampton Marsh, Lincolnshire, UK 12/10/2014

Sunday, 26 October 2014

An interesting week in the life of Wader Quest.

This has been an unusual and interesting week for us.

On Wednesday we ventured into London on public transport, not something we are greatly accustomed to doing, and found the experience was far from being unpleasant despite our metropolisophobic tendencies. (Couldn't find a proper name for a phobia about cities so I invented one.)

The reason we were there was to give a talk to the London Natural History Society following an invite from Kat Duke. The talk was in the Isis Education Centre in the middle of Hyde Park and was a very pleasant venue indeed. We talked about some of the waders we had seen on our travels and how they are being affected by the modern world.

LNHS talk showing the excellent presentation equipment.
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago on screen.
On Friday we did the opposite journey and headed out to Thetford in Norfolk. There we spoke at a seminar at the BTO HQ at the Nunnery. We had been invited to speak there by Allan Archer, who  has agreed to be a Trustee of Wader Quest so we were able to take the opportunity to have a useful chat about our future with him at the same time. We had a fabulous response from the good folk of the BTO and we really enjoyed our visit there immensely.

BTO seminar.
 Black Stilt Himantopus novaehollandiae on screen.
It was particularly good to see some of our friends from the Wash Wader Ringing Group, Nigel, Ruth, Justin, Samantha, David and Lucy who even came in from maternity leave just to see us. It was very pleasing to have their support, particularly that of Nigel as it was his talk about the Spoon-billed Sandpipers that pretty much spurred Wader Quest into being in the first place, who'd have thought that two years later he'd be attending a Wader Quest talk?

Then Saturday morning we dragged ourselves out of a cosy warm bed to set up the Mobile Charity Shop at a car boot sale in the dark and chilled pre-dawn mist. I was not, I confess, over optimistic. However, as the sun rose over the horizon and the temperature crept into double figures, a few hardy souls turned out and fortunately for us they were people who wanted to buy, not just browse. The result being that we had one of our best mornings for some time.

The scene at the car boot site just after we arrived (the cars are behind us; we weren't the only people there!)

Friday, 17 October 2014

Charity Status Update! (and other wader Quest news)

Recognition as a charity by HMRC

Finally we have had a response from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs department.

We have been notified that Wader Quest is now officially recognised as a charity by HMRC and as such we will now be able to benefit from Gift Aid and other tax exemptions and allowances.

As a result, once we have worked out exactly what we can and can't do, we will be looking at sponsorships and donations that have been made since March 2nd (our official starting date) until now. We will be contacting existing sponsors to see if they are willing and eligible to sign a gift aid form so that we may benefit from this valuable extra source of income.

That means there is even more reason for those who have not yet done so to sign up as a sponsor of Wader Quest, what with this extra income your sponsorship will bring us and the Prize Draw we are offering (see below) there has never been a better time to do it.

Wader Quest Anniversary Prize Draw

To celebrate the second anniversary of the commencement of Wader Quest we are holding an Anniversary Prize Draw. Anyone signing up as an ordinary, family or life sponsor one month either side of the anniversary on the 1st of November (October 1st to November 30th) will be entered automatically into the prize draw which will be made on the 1st December 2014. The prize is a splendid pair of Optictron 8x30 T3 Trailfinder Binoculars.

Sponsorship income is currently being ring fenced to swell the Wader Quest Grants Fund which will be used to pay for equipment and materials via application to the fund from small wader conservation projects. The first such grant was made earlier this month when we purchased colour rings and measuring equipment which were sent to the Anak Burung Birdbanding Club in Indonesia where, under the supervision of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, they are going to study Javan Plover and White-headed Stilt. We have since been asked to provide some mist nets for a project in Peru a decision about which will be made shortly.

See the JOIN US page for rates, benefits and details of how to become a sponsor.

Trustee news

We are very happy to welcome Allan Archer and Oliver Simms to the Board of Trustees.

We first met Allan when we attended the OSME AGM at the BTO headquarters in Norfolk earlier this year, he joined Wader Quest as a sponsor and has been most supportive ever since. His business acumen will be essential as we drive Wader Quest's development forward as we strive to make a difference.

Oliver we met when he came to volunteer with us in Brazil where he helped us with the small group of children we worked with. He brings a new, young, modern approach to the board and his connections with the Next Generation Birders Club, which he helped to set up and until recently served on the committee of, will certainly help us engage with the younger generation which is an important aspect of what we do.

At the same time we sadly say farewell to former trustee Martin Simpson who stepped into the breach to help us set up the organisation in the initial stages. We wish him luck in his new life in Thailand.