Tuesday, 1 September 2015

A stint (9 to be exact) in Norfolk

With a couple of errands to run in East Anglia, we decided to make a day of it.

We started by heading to a small village near Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk to deliver the BBF Wader Quest competition prize of an Ibisbill print that has been signed by the artist Steve Cale which, Steve had kindly donated to Wader Quest. 

Michael Hicks with his Ibisbill prize.
From there we headed to the Wash and had a brief visit to The Old Schoolhouse, the field HQ of the Wash Wader Ringing Group. They were between catches so we had a quick catch up and chat about the Wash Wader Festival with Nigel Clark and Ruth Walker before they had to dash off and catch some oystercatchers.

Next we visited Titchwell and enjoyed some stunning close-up views of Little Stints (we saw nine of the 14 seen that day including one adult) 

Juvenile Little Stint Calidris minuta feeding. Their method of feeding is obviously different from the larger Dunlins which vibrate their head back and forth in an action known as 'stitching' as it is like the action of a sewing machine needle. Little Stints will pick and probe as they walk seldom if ever 'stitching'.

Juvenile Little Stint Calidris minuta wing stretching.

Juvenile Little Stint Calidris minuta. Note the small tight wing feathers and white fringed lower scapulars. The split supercilium, dark central crown and white 'braces ' all clearly visible.

Adult Little Stint Calidris minuta. Compared to the juvenile above note how the feathering is larger and it lacks the white fringing of the lower scapulars and has rufous ear coverts and lower neck. There is one new winter plumage scapular feather showing

There were many Dunlins feeding near to the hide. Among them were some really pretty juveniles and the odd adult bird. 

Delicate juvenile Dunlin Calidris alpina. This pale bird shows the buffy brown typical of juvenile birds and the spotting, in this case very delicate and well defined on the breast.

Adult Dunlin Calidris alpina.
We were keen to see Curlew Sandpiper as we hadn't caught up with one this year and had to be satisfied with a fairly distant view of a juvenile in the end along with a single Spotted Redshank. We also enjoyed some close views of our favourite wader Northern Lapwing, a dapper Common Ringed Plover and also a few Ruffs.

Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus.

Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula.

Juvenile Ruff Philomachus pugnax.

There was also a bit of a kerfuffle when a couple of teal decided to set about each other, spreading the startled sandpipers in all directions. This spectacle was enjoyed by the admiring crowds in the hide including the young man in the photo below.

Commotion in the mud.

That's what we like to see, get them started young!

After this we visited the Wildwings team in Salthouse for a chat and then headed home satisfied with an excellent day.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Solidarity: the Wader Quest way!

Now that the dust has settled a bit on the Bird Fair weekend, we are able to look ahead and what do we see looming on the horizon?

Wader Conservation World Watch:
7th & 8th November 2015

Last year we did an event called Wader Quest World Watch where we asked our friends and supporters, wherever they happened to be in the world, to go out and look at waders. It was a celebration of Wader Quest's anniversary. It was very successful too with 118 species being seen.

This year however we wanted to make more of a statement with the event and raise the profile of wader conservation itself. There is no doubt that waders are a popular group of birds, but we do not feel that enough is made of the dire circumstances in which they find themselves through no fault of their own. That is why we have turned our event into a celebration of wader conservation.

There are many people out there both professional and volunteer who are working hard, day and night, to protect waders and their habitat

There are of course the headline stories such as the Spoon-billed Sandpiper on the brink of extinction, the crisis with the Horseshoe Crabs in Delaware Bay, the destruction of the intertidal zone in the Yellow Sea region and so forth, but behind these very important issues many hundreds if not thousands of small conservation tragedies are happening. Each one on its own not necessarily significant, a nest here, a roosting beach there, but the cumulative effect is staggering.

Realistically we cannot hope to regain all the losses suffered, but we can go a long way to mitigate the relentless pressure being placed on our environment by supporting communities which are willing to give up their time and effort to do something about what is happening.

This is why we think that it is important to recognise the tremendous work that is going on around the world to save waders.

The people that carry out these projects deserve our thanks for the work they are doing and you can show your solidarity with them showing you care and appreciate what they are doing, simply by going out and looking at waders. There are more details about what to do and how to do it here.

It couldn't be simpler and those that are working hard to save the birds will know that you appreciate the effort and sacrifices they are making.

And remember: 
Black-tailed Godwit chicks: Photo Astrid Kant

Monday, 24 August 2015

Birdfair; all done and a great weekend as always.

The calm before the storm. The Wader Quest stand ready and awaiting visitors.

The first people we want to thank for this marvellous weekend are Carole Allen who organised all the exhibitors so well putting up with all our daft questions and incompetent organisational skills and also Tina Lindsay who organises the talks for giving us the opportunity again to talk to the birding public. 

Tina Lindsay on a brief visit to the stand.

In addition we should thank our friend Tim Appleton and all those incredible volunteers who make the whole thing run so smoothly.

Tim on his new mode of transport for the fair.
We must also thank our volunteers this weekend too who helped out on the stand releasing us for short periods to get out to see people that we only get to see once a year at the fair. John Davis came to see one of our talks and afterwards volunteered his time to help us at the Bird fair. John spent most of Friday helping out at the Wader Quest stand. 

Volunteer John Davis on the stand on Friday.

Also Trustee Chris Lamsdell and his wife Denise who spent a vast amount of their time covering the stand on all three days and also talking to people as they went around the marquees on our behalf. Thanks too to the other Turstees who passed by the stand although busy themselves on other stands; Lee Dingain, Rachel Walls, Sue Healey, David Lindo, Oliver Simms and Allan Archer.

Chris and Denise Lamsdell with Wader Quest Rob Young of Birding DC one of our Corporate Sponsors.

We had some fantastic prizes this year for our raffle and competition with some excellent artwork from Richard Allen, Steve Cale and JanWilczur plus a pair of binoculars from Opticron. To all of them we offer our thanks for their generous support. Talking of artists we can't forget Robert Parkin who produced a magnificent artwork of one of our favourite birds, the Northern Lapwing. It featured on the T shirts that Elis and I wore at the fair and was one of the postcards which were for sale. We hope that this artwork will feature much more in the future in our merchandising.

Robert Parkin's fantastic design with our new slogan.

So of course we must also thank all those that attended our stand. With 380 to choose from we are always amazed at the interest our humble stand creates. To everyone that took the time and trouble to stop by and especially to those that attended the talk, we offer a big thank you for your support. We should especially mention Mark and Michelle Cornfield who have been kind and continuous supporters and friends of ours since we started and first appeared at the Bird Fair.

The opening slide from the talk.
We were very pleased with the number of people who took an interest in Wader Quest and what we were trying to do with offers of help and advice coming thick and fast, all of which was received with much gratitude and we say an especially big thank you to those that put their faith in us by joining Wader Quest, without you there would be no future in what we are trying to achieve.

The stand attracted plenty of interest.

So how did we do?

We sold a good number of raffle tickets, not surprising when you consider the prizes. The winners of the raffle were; 1st Prize (Signed print of juvenile Calidris sandpipers by Richard Allen) went to Jo Gould one of our most active followers on social media, particularly twitter so a just reward for her support; 2nd Prize (Jan Wilczur original line drawing of a Long-billed Dowitcher) went to Mike Harmer who had joined at the Norfolk Bird and Wildlife Fair; 3rd Prize (Jan Wilczur original line drawing of a Pectoral Sandpiper) went to Julie Robinson who had travelled all the way from Cumbria for the fair; 4th Prize (Opticron binoculars) went to John Todd who we are still trying to contact.

The fantastic raffle prizes.

The competition this year was to guess the number of birds in a photograph of a flock of mainly Red Knots in flight. The total number was 1118 and the nearest guess was 1176 by Michael Hicks who will receive a beautiful signed print of an Ibisbill by Steve Cale.

Competition picture with prize inset.

Sales went well with the pins doing particularly well as usual, the new Dunlin being by far the most popular, we also started to sell some lovely little figures of waders made and hand painted by Styewart Langworth who had been exhibiting in the Art Marquee with the British Decoy Wildfowl Carvers Association (BDWCA).

The 2016 Wader Quest Calendar launched at Bird Fair.

As always there were very few downsides to this year's fair, it was good to catch up with many old friends, but as we were so much busier this year many got missed, we also missed the carts of food coming around the marquees, this will have affected many like us who find it hard to get away from the stand to eat.

Part of the crowd in our marquee.

The biggest disappointment though has to be that someone thought it was a good idea to pay for their Wader Quest Collectables pin badges by substituting £1 coins for 5 Sri Lankan Rupee coins - seven of them. With the cost of the pins and cards to manufacture, that cynical act has cost Wader Quest over £10.00 in lost revenue and for a non-profit organisation that is hard to take.

Overall though it was a magnificent occasion as always, fantastic camaraderie, friendship and friendliness, co-operation and support. 

The British Birdwatching Fair is a unique occasion and we would not miss it for the world.

Some friends who stopped by to see us:

Rob and Chrystal Young of Corporated Sponsors Birding DC.

John Kinghorn of Founder Corporate Sponsors Birding Ecotours.

György Szimuly of World Waders (I hate standing next to him, he makes me look so small!).

Three lovely folk from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust; Nigel Jarrett, Ellie Wise and Baz Hughes.

Friends from Brazil Fred Crema and Guto Carvalho.
Lilás Nascimento; Brazil Toursim

Keith Betton

The lovely Vanessa Palacio from the equally lovely Extramadura.

Another year notched up; the Wader Quest stand 2015. Photo: Lee Dingain.