Thursday, 16 August 2018
IT was a real treat for members to listen to the talk provided by Rick and Elis Simpson about the work of Wader Quest.
This is a registered charity and raises funds and awareness of the plight of waders throughout the world, many of which are critically endangered.
The pictures taken by Elis of waders were sublime and provided a fantastic accompaniment to Rick’s lively dialogue.
One wader species is the diminutive spoon-billed sandpiper which breeds in north-eastern Russia and winters in southern China, making research difficult.
Other waders in distress include the sociable lapwing and the possibly extinct slender-billed curlew.
A few days later, on a cloudy and cool Sunday morning, the group visited Otmoor, the RSPB reserve north-east of Oxford. This is an area of wet meadows and recreated reed beds that is representative of the type of habitat that covered large areas of the Thames Valley before drainage and farming changed the landscape.
This means that compared with the surrounding countryside Otmoor is now a magnet for birds and birdwatchers.
While we were in the car park a curlew, a declining breeding bird on lowland wetland, was calling.
Soon afterwards came the familiar sound of the cuckoo, a first of the year for many.
In addition to the numerous ducks, geese and swans, several marsh harriers quartered the reed beds and there was a distant view of a male hen harrier, which should be moving to the upland moors to breed soon.
A drumming snipe flew over a couple of times; the drumming is made by two stiff outer tail feathers that vibrate as it dives.
In the flooded fields the Wader Quest talk sprang into life as there were numerous waders such as redshank, lapwing and black-tailed godwit.
There were few summer visitors as the persistent cold weather means most are still to return to their breeding territory, but the group was compensated by large flocks of linnet, reed bunting and yellowhammer.
At one viewing screen the distinctive call of a crane was heard and towards the end of the visit one flew overhead — a brilliant end to a great day’s bird-watching.
The next meeting of the group takes place at Pangbourne village hall on Tuesday, May 8 at 8pm when Martin Harper, conservation director of the RSPB, will talk about the charity’s current and future projects.
Visitors are always very welcome.
For more information, visit www.reading-rspb.org
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