28 August 2013

The return of Sanderling NT88726

Below, Richard du Feu recalls one of those amazing moments when you meet an old friend on its travels...

"In the 25 years since my first visit to the Wash as a 9-year-old boy, there have been many memorable and interesting individual birds I have ringed and retrapped. But I have no doubt that NT88726 will remain as one of the highlights for many years to come.

Originally the Wash Wader Ringing Group caught this Sanderling in September 2010 and ringed it as a moulting adult. Fast forward to November 2012 when I joined an expedition to Portugal with members of the Farlington Ringing Group, primarily to work on Black Tailed Godwit and Sanderling. There in amongst a small catch of Sanderling near Lisbon was a British ringed Sanderling that I recognised as a bird ringed on the Wash. Colour rings were added as part of a project run by the University of Groningen (see the photo below, courtesy of Justin Walker).

On the recent WWRG summer trip to Snettisham, Norfolk, I was fortunate enough to be present when NT88726 was once again caught and, as in 2010, this bird was moulting.

NT88726 adds to our understanding of the Sanderling life-cycle and shows how important the Wash is, not only for the birds that winter on the Wash but also for birds that winter far south of the UK, using the large food resource of the Wash as a place to moult and fatten up for the long flight to their wintering grounds.

I look forward to resighting this special bird in Portugal in November."

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