It won’t be long before the first of the wading birds start to arrive back from their northern breeding grounds. Normally this begins around the end of the first week in July, with several thousand having returned by late July. This is a good time of year to see these birds as the majority are still looking fabulous in their breeding plumage, so a visit on one of the higher tides in the second half of July or August is recommended.
Waders can be found on every continent on earth, from the poles right through to the equator and even Antarctica where sheathbills are the only example. They are often thought of as being strictly water birds, but they can be found in every type of habitat including high mountains (plovers) deserts (coursers), savanna (lapwings).
As an interesting fact, the southern lapwing has different alarm calls to warn its chicks according to the threat they face. If the threat is cattle and therefore the chicks may be crushed, they emit one call which causes the chicks to flee. If the threat is a predator such as a bird of prey they emit a different call and the chicks freeze to blend in with the environment.
Interestingly the lapwings use the same call that they use for cattle for a car.
Migratory wader adults leave their fledglings on the breeding grounds so they have to find their own way unaided to the wintering grounds. That could explain why so many vagrant waders are juveniles.
Green sandpipers nest in trees and not on the ground as other members of the same family do. They often use the abandoned nests of other species such as thrushes. Bar-tailed godwits fly non-stop for 8/9 days from Alaskan breeding grounds to overwinter in New Zealand.
This year’s spectacles will culminate in a wader festival weekend to be held in conjunction with Waderquest and Birdwatching magazine. This festival will take place at Titchwell and Snettisham and is a wonderful opportunity for us to highlight these amazing birds. There will be lots of chances for you wader fans to help out either during the waderfest or at one of the wader events as listed below.
Wednesday Sept 2 @ 7:00 am
Friday Oct 2 @ 7:50 am
Friday Oct 30 @ 5:30 am (eek!)
Saturday Nov 28 – Sun Nov 29 – day events Titchwell and Snettisham.
We anticipate that the wader events will last around 2-3 hours depending on visitor numbers and weather.
For more information go to rspb.org.uk/tichwell or ring 01485 210779.