Team Wader Quest – Global Birding Weekend

Record shot of Long-toed Stint, St Aidan’s RSPB reserve – Elis Simpson

The last time I had two British ticks on the same day was in 1987; Isabelline Shrike and Little Auk! Today, I repeated that feat, and moreover, they were both waders! The last time I ticked two waders on the same day was way back on the 5th August 1984 when, incredibly, I saw two new waders at Minsmere RSPB reserve. They were White-rumped Sandpiper and Temminck’s Stint.

On Saturday the 9th of October, the Global Bird Day, Elis and I set off to look for the long staying White-tailed Lapwing, which had obligingly stayed put at Blacktoft Sands RSPB reserve since August, the Global Birding Weekend organised by Wader Quest patrons Tim Appleton and Penny Robinson, giving us the excuse we needed to go and look for it. On our way up the M1 motorway we got news that the Long-toed Stint at another RSPB reserve, St Aidan’s, a mere 30 odd minutes from Blacktoft, and this caused us to divert and head there first.

Predictably it was a bit of a scrum and the bird a little distant, but in the end good scope views were obtained (despite the tripod head being broken), some record shots obtained and some shaky footage in the can. Not wasting any time, we left in a hurry and headed for Blacktoft. Happily the White-tailed Lapwing was on view when we arrived and we enjoyed watching it until it disappeared behind a pile of mud for a snooze.

White-tailed Lapwing, Blacktoft Sands RSPB reserve – Elis Simpson

Our day tally was just 55 species, but two being such mega rarities certainly made up for the lack of variety (some of which may have been missed as our attention was elsewhere). Talking of elsewhere. There was another British faction of Team Wader Quest out in the UK in the forms of Allan Archer and Barry Madden, who visited Titchwell RSPB reserve (what would we do without the RSPB?) where they tallied 82 species, a fine effort.

But our team was not confined to the UK. In Australia we had enlisted the help of Alan McBride, who was out and about within the legal confines of the local lockdown, in Victoria. Meanwhile, in Queensland, Renate Hottmann-Schaefer was out birding in Brisbane, adding more Australian species to our list.

In southern Africa, we had the amazing Sue Oertli visiting various locations and amassing a fine list from South Africa, along with fellow South Africans Martin Benadie and Niall Perrins. Our other South African friends Peter and Jenny Sharland were in Costa Rica, so unexpectedly we got an additional list from there too, an real bonus. Also in southern Africa we had a contribution from Gary Rowan in Mozambique adding another few species.

Remaining in the same part of the world, we had a list sent to us from the French island of Reúnion, courtesy of our friend Jean-François Cornuaille, who is a regular contributor to our Wader Conservation World Watch event (which is coming soon – 6th and 7th November), a few local species from there really helped.

While on the subject of islands, our team total was also blessed by no less than 14 lists from the Caribbean and all from Jackie Cestero on Anguilla, this again certainly helped with variety we achieved in the species list.

Heading south from the Caribbean we received two contributions from Brazil. The Wader Quest Brasil / Aves Limícolas Peruíbe team of Bruno and Karina, who are doing so much to protect waders on the São Paulo coast and an additional list from Alan Porto from the interior of Brazil added yet more species to the growing list. This weekend while we will be at the Martin Mere Wetlands for the WWT Northwest Birding Festival, Bruno and Karina will be running their own first Festival for Coastal Birds on the São Paulo coast. We wish them good luck with that event and hope it is a great success, like everything else they are doing.

In the end, the joint team list, from these 8 countries came to 524. It would have been 525 if eBird accepted Alexandrine Parakeet on Reúnion (a feral population of escapes).

Of these species a tremendous 66 were waders, a great forerunner for WCWW to come in November.

But of course this event is about more than amassing big species lists, the serious side of it is the collection of funds to help BirdLife International, and this year their funding will go towards protecting wetlands, so for Wader Quest this is an important cause. We raised between us £135.00, not a huge amount, but it all counts and every little helps as they say in certain supermarkets around here.