2022/3 Wader Quest Grants Summary

As the financial years draws to a close, it is worth looking back to see what species Wader Quest helped to conserve by making grants or donations during that time.

As always a number of projects are overseas and there, this year, plovers dominated, demonstrating how beach nesting birds are up against it. Closer to home, the dire population dynamics of the Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata meant that they featured again this year and will we suspect continue to do so in years to come.

Wilson’s Phalarope © Elis Simpson

However the first grant made was to neither Eurasian Curlew, nor a plover species. It involved the salt lakes of the USA and in particular Mono Lake in California where thousands of Wilson’s Phalaropus. tricolor and Red-necked Phalaropes P. lobatus either pass through or winter each year. The lakes are drying out and numbers of phalaropes are falling sharply.

We also committed to continue to support the Projecto Aves Limícolas Peruíbe (Peruíbe Wader Project) in south-east Brazil. The project has had some amazing successes in securing local government help in protecting beaches, preventing vehicular access and mechanised beach cleaning, as well as some superb community engagement projects relating to migrating waders.

Eurasian Curlews © Phil Hadley

The 2022 Anniversary Grant was given to a young Freelance film-maker called Alicia Hayden, to help enable her in the production of a short educational film about Eurasian Curlew conservation and exploring the Curlew’s life from birth to death. The other grant in favour of Eurasian Curlews was given to the Shropshire Ornithological Society Save our Curlews Campaign, in a study to find out how Curlew chicks use the landscape, and what happens to them. Understanding the reasons for low levels of chick survival is part of the key to an effective conservation plan.

Overseas projects 2022-23; Mongolia, USA, Nicaragua, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina.

The plovers we helped this year were to be found in Argentina, Colombia, Nicaragua and Venezuela. Two-banded Plovers Charadrius falklandicus are not endangered as such, but as beaches are developed more and more and used for recreation in increasing instances, it is worth making sure we understand how, when and why, these birds migrate through these habitats. That is what the Argentinian study of the Two-banded Plover is trying to do, so that our increased understanding will help us to manage their conservation so that they never become endangered. Part of that management is being carried out by engaging with local communities and helping them understand the importance of the beaches to migratory waders and the waders to them.The same applies to the Collared Plover C. collaris in Colombia and the Near Threatened Snowy Plovers C. nivosus in Nicaragua. In the case of Venezuela the project we are supporting, for the second rime, is investigating the breeding of Wilson’s Plovers C. wilsonia on Margarita Islands just off the Venezuelan coast. The study is looking at the habitat selection and success rates therein, and also anthropogenic pressures on the birds, with a community outreach element that is proving successful in engaging the local people whose actions impact on the birds

As there is an increased awareness of the importance of stop over points for waders on migration, so the lack of knowledge surrounding them is becoming frustrating. It is therefore essential that more is learnt about this crucial part of the birds’ life cycle, and no more so than in remote areas that are less studied. For this reason we felt we wanted to support a monitoring project  at Ugii Lake Shorebird Monitoring Centre in Mongolia,  to assess and monitor, the distribution and numbers of shorebirds during northward and southward migration, as well as those breeding there, while promoting public awareness, especially among local government officials at Ugii Lake.