Sunday, 25 January 2015

Terrific Trustees' meeting.

You can read that title to mean that it was terrific meeting or, that the Trustees are terrific; both are true.

The Wader Quest power house of Allan Archer, Lee Dingain, Chris Lamsdell, David Lindo and Rachel Walls (with apologies from Oliver Simms) were all together in one room with the addition of Sue Healy from REGUA in Brazil and Vanesa Palacio from Extremadura in Spain both of whom came along as guests for this meeting.
The dynamic Wader Quest Board of Trustees (L to R) Lee Dingain, Rachel Walls (Secretary), Chris Lamsdell, Rick Simpson (Chair; standing), Allan Archer, Sue Healey (guest) Elis Simpson (Treasurer, standing), Vanesa Palacio (guest) and David Lindo.

We discussed a wide range of topics from 'what we have achieved' to 'where we are going' and left the London Wetland Centre all pretty much of one accord while Elis and I came away with a positive glow about Wader Quest's future.

A big thank you to  the team for giving up their Sunday to help us build the organisation into a worthwhile and workable entity, without their positive and constructive outlook on things we would soon stagnate, but, thanks to them, Wader Quest remains dynamic and forward looking.

We look forward to developing the ideas that arose from the meeting and building a stronger more significant wader conservation organisation equipped to deal with the problems that waders are increasingly facing around the world.

We are very grateful to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust for allowing us to use one of their meeting rooms for this crucial meeting.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Cheltenham Bird Club talk.

Following close on the heels of last weeks talk in Maidenhead Elis and I headed west to Cheltenham for yet another, this time to the Cheltenham Bird Club.

John Harvey, meeting organiser opening the meeting.

It was a very cold evening and we were very pleased by a very good turn out and furthermore they turned out to be a very lively and friendly group. This club was unusual in that it meets weekly and not monthly and yet they still seem to find lots to talk about and share about local birding.

A happy and expectant audience.

Once again we were gratified by the interest that our growing cause elicited from the club and after the talk we enjoyed chatting about our work and aims.

Answering questions from the audience.

Once we left we headed back home and the outside temperature went as low as -5°.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Mystery wader photo.

Recently on our facebook page we posted a photo of a bird feeding with half of its head and all of its bill underwater which we have reproduced here. Bills are very important in identifying waders and so making this bird's ID a little tricky. If you didn't see that post have a guess what this bird is before scrolling down.

Our mystery bird.

Of course straight away we were asked "Where was the picture taken?" This is the first question I always ask in these situations too as bird identification is all about narrowing the options if you don't automatically recognise the bird straight away. In this case that would have made life too easy. Lets look at some of the suggestions made; Curlew Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper and Great Knot.

The slim shape of this bird and lack of flank markings can rule out Great Knot fairly quickly and its relative lack of breast-heavy stature would also seem to exclude Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. Curlew Sandpiper would be greyer and would not show the breast markings. So that would leave us with just two.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper Calidris acuminata. Cairns esplanade, Queensland, Australia. 22/09/2013.
Note the heavy structure of this bird compared to the mystery bird.

With those long primaries it could be either White-rumped Sandpiper and Baird's Sandpiper. As suggested in the comments on the post, you would expect that a white-rump would be greyer. The same comment went on to add a note of caution, mentioning that the light can alter colours in photographs; however the observation about the colour is correct and the bird is indeed quite brown in real life.

Baird's Sandpiper Calidris bairdii (Left) and White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis. Laguna Verde, Tierra del Fuego, Chile. 06/11/2013. Note the slightly warmer tones of the Baird's compared to the White-rumped even in dull, overcast conditions. (This is most noticeable if you flick your eyes back and forth from the head and neck of one to the other quickly.)

With the combination of the warm tones, breast markings, lack of any dark flank markings and long pointed back-end we think it is possible to identify this bird as Baird's Sandpiper even without knowing where it was photographed which, just happens to be Laguna Chaxa, Antofagasta, Chile.

Our mystery bird is a Baird's Sandpiper Calidris baridii. Laguna Chaxa, Antofagasta, Chile. 31/10/2013

Well done to all those who thought this was a Baird's Sandpiper and thanks very much for making the effort and having the courage to have a stab at what was a tricky ID conundrum.