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.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Birdgirl's South American Wader Quest Part 3: Guest blog by Mya-Rose Craig

My name is Mya-Rose Craig AKA Birdgirl.  I am 12 years old and live in Somerset, in the UK.  I am obsessed with birds, passionate about conservation and love writing.  This is the third part to my Wader Quest...

The next part of our journey was a 9 week trip to Peru. That was going to be really amazing.  Early in the trip, we birded the Santa Eulalia Canyon in Central Peru, not far from Lima.  We headed off East from Lima in our “hippy van”, which I loved.  We spent two days birding up the canyon seeing a whole load of endemic birds, before arriving at Ticlio Bog which was at 4,900 metres.  Here we saw the endemic White bellied Cinclodes and Junin Canastero.  However, my bird of the day was Diademed Sandpiper-Plover which we had unbelievably good views of. After searching for it for all those hours in Bolivia, it was fantastic to see it here within ten minutes of arriving and so early in our Peru trip.  This was a good contender for my most magical wader.

Diademed Sandpiper-Plover Phegornis mitchellii © Alejandro Tello, Kolibri Expeditions

Also in Peru I saw Killdeer, another bird I feel confident that I could identify if I found one in Britain, as well as Collared Plover, Pied Lapwing, Tawny-throated Dotterel, Blackish Oystercatcher, the rare Andean Avocet, Peruvian Thick-knee, Hudsonian Godwit, Surfbird, Semipalmated and Baird's Sandpipers.

Blackish Oystercatcher Haematopus bachmani© Alejandro Tello, Kolibri Expeditions
Andean Avocet Recurvirostra andina© Alex Torres, Kolibri Expeditions

Alex Torres, Andy Marshall, Helena Craig, Mya-Rose Craig and Chris Craig
At Junin Lake

Peruvian Thick-knee Burhinus superciliaris© Alejandro Tello, Kolibri Expeditions
Hudsonian Godwit Limosa haemastica© Alejandro Tello, Kolibri Expeditions

Surfbird Aphriza virgata© Chris Craig
On the way back from South America, we stopped in Atlanta for a day’s birding at some wetlands.  It was early September and we were looking forward to seeing some American Shorebirds.  The first was Short-billed Dowitcher, which I looked at carefully, another candidate for a British record. I didn’t know that I was going to be watching one at home only a few weeks later!

Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus© Dan Vickers

Mya-Rose Craig, Bill Lotz and Chris Craig © Helena Craig

It was great to see all of those waders and I feel really lucky.  Diademed Sandpiper-Plover is definitely the most magical wader I have seen. 

My Dad loves waders and they are his favourite type of bird.  Because he looks at them so much, he is fantastic at differentiating between them and identifying them.  He has tried to pass on those skills to me and so I love waders too.

© Helena Craig
Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig is a young birder, writer and conservationist, her South American wader quest continues in Part Two.

Please like her Facebook page

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Birdgirl's South American Wader Quest Part 2: Guest blog by Mya-Rose Craig

My name is Mya-Rose Craig AKA Birdgirl.  I am 12 years old and live in Somerset, in the UK.  I am obsessed with birds, passionate about conservation and love writing.  This is the second part of my South American Wader Quest...

Next, was another six week trip to Bolivia, again chasing endemics.  Here, we added Andean Lapwing and Puna Plover in the first few days, two very lovely birds.  

Andean Lapwing Vanellus resplendens: © Elis Simpson

Puna Plover Charadrius alticola: © Elis Simpson

Heading from the Paraguay border back towards Santa Cruz, we stopped at a lake in the Andes Foothills.  Sandro, our guide saw a wader a long way off.  He knew it was new for him but had no idea what it was.  We went down to the edge of the water and Dad immediately identified the bird as a Least Sandpiper but then started shouting “ow, ow, ow!”.  Sandro then started pointing at Dad’s trousers and shouting “chiwowa!” and we realised Dad was covered up to his knees in hundreds of red ants and was accidently standing on an ants’ nest.  Dad and Sandro tried to swipe the ants off Dad, but then they both got covered.  Mum and I stayed well away as we weren’t going to risk getting ants on us.  When we then ran back to the van, Herman our driver couldn’t help but laugh at Dad and Sandro, as they tried to get the ants out of their pants.

Least Sandpiper Calidris minutilla© Trevor Ellery

After this, there were four more waders that we would be trying to search for.  They were special birds.  The sort that you take a huge diversion to see and then spend the day searching for.  The sort that you also feel devastated if you miss.

From La Paz we drove up to La Cumbre, at 5,000 metres, which is at the top of the World’s Most Dangerous Road and enters Cotopata National Park.  I had already felt the effects of high altitude and so had to make sure that I walked really slowly.  This was also the place that I found out that water boils at a lower temperature at high altitude, so doesn’t really get hot.  I’m not going to forget that bit of science in a hurry.  After we spent some time searching in the ice, we had fab views of our two target species, Rufous-bellied and Grey-breasted Seedsnipe.  That was fantastic, as they can be quite tricky to see in other places.

Grey-brestaed Seedsnipe Thinocorusorbignyianus© Elis Simpson

Mya-Rose at La Cumbre; © Helena Criag
Another place that we visited at 5,000 metres was Sajama National Park, on the border with Chile.  At this altitude, it was hard to breathe and walk and I felt headachy.   This was where I tried my first cup of tea, which was coca tea.  I also chewed coca leaf, which I didn’t like at all.  It does really help you cope with altitude sickness, though I think it made me a bit chatty.   Sandro was from the Amazon and he was really affected by altitude even after taking altitude tablets.  His body just wasn’t made to be at altitude, which kinda makes sense.

The famous Coca Tea; © Helena Criag

Mya-Rose and Chris Craig at Sajama; © Helena Criag

As soon as the sun set, it got really cold and we had to sleep with our thermals on and lots of blankets.  There was no way I was having a cold shower, no matter how long we were here.  It was bad enough even washing my hands, so I tried not to!  It was here that we saw our last target seedsnipe, which was Least Seedsnipe and brilliant to see.  

Least Seedsnipe Thinocorus rumicivorus© Alejandro Tello

The other target wader here was Diadamed Sandpiper-Plover which we heard but just could not find.  That was really disappointing after five hours of searching.  I was still looking for my most magical wader.

Mya-Rose’s Wader Quest continues in Part Three.

© Helena Craig
Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig is a young birder, writer and conservationist, her South American wader quest continues in Part Two.

Please like her Facebook page

Trevor Ellery