Waveney Bird Club: 26th July 2020

As restrictions ease and we receive somewhat brighter news that a vaccine will be available soon, maybe we are seeing a chink of light as we crawl through this very long and dark tunnel? Rest assured, the Committee is working hard behind the scenes to ensure that members are kept informed of the few events that your Club are able to run.

As stated in the last Newsletter, our Committee meetings are now conducted remotely using the Zoom IT package as was our AGM that was concluded last Tuesday night. A huge thank you to members who were able to join us and apologies to those who tried to get in, but beaten by technology. These types of meetings are new to most of us but, on the whole, our AGM went well and business was completed satisfactorily. Proceedings included two wonderful presentations given by Chris McIntyre on last year’s ringing results and Andrew Green, a summary depicting the birds of the Waveney Valley in 2019. Andrew’s presentation culminated in his announcement of the converted “Waveney Bird Spotter of the Year”. It was awarded to Tony (“I hate you”) Butler for his sighting of a Honey Buzzard over Beccles last summer. This prestigious trophy will be formerly presented at our first indoor meeting whenever that happens to be?

The Committee does recognise that due to the extraordinary way which our AGM was conducted, it did not offer members a chance to highlight or bring to the Club’s attention any matters that should be shared with other members. This could be the sad loss of a fellow member, a great achievement by you or someone close to you, a great bird site that had been discovered or basically anything that other WBC members would have an interest. So please, whatever it is, forward it on and we’ll make every effort to ensure that your news is shared.

After 12-year stint, Andrew is standing down as our Recorder and this was his final presentation at the AGM, but he will continue to support the Club by leading field events, etc. I’m pleased to announce that the Club’s new Recorder is Richard (Dick) Walden who will start work in the next week or so. Dick is one of Suffolk’s most popular and active birders and did a stint as NE Suffolk County Recorder in the late-1990s.

Andrew was the only Officer to stand down at the AGM, the remainder of the Committee were elected to serve en bloc until the end of the year. This includes our Treasurer Stephen Dean who has continued to look after Club funds despite suffering from ill health. Due to Covid 19, he was unable to present audited accounts as there had been a need to physically transfer books and paperwork as not all could be completed electronically. Our accounts are now with the auditor and copies of our balance sheet will soon be forwarded to members by email for comments and acceptance.

I’m delighted to announce that Vivienne Broughton will take over from Stephen Dean as the Club’s Treasurer as from January 1st 2021 and will work with Stephen on the handover during the coming months. Vivienne has been a great supporter of the Club and has attended many events, including WBC’s last year’s memorable tour of NE India.

Roger Walsh and Sue Alderman have kindly agreed to delay their retirement until the end of the year and their places will be taken by Mark Broughton and Cheryl Deeks. Both Mark and Cheryl will be well known to members being regularly attendees to WBC events.

Our first organised event since lockdown was our annual “Swift Walk Swift Pint” study that took place last Monday evening. It was a fine evening and it was great to see 20+ attendees including some new faces on the walk. The Swifts were feeding high in the skies only coming down to rooftop level as dusk approached. The combined total reached 140 individuals. As usual we recorded all the birds that we saw along the various routes and 27 species were noted. Our preferred watering hole, the Green Dragon, let us down by being shut, but we were able to socially distance ourselves at tables laid out in the gardens (carpark actually!) of The Fleece.

Due to theses extraordinary circumstances, the Club’s indoor and outdoor programme for 2020 has been decimated, but we are planning to run a few outdoor field events. However, to comply with Govt advice, numbers have to be restricted to six members, plus leaders for the time being. A detailed Risk Assessment has also been prepared and we will ensure that our members safety and welfare are paramount in our plans. Hopefully, our trip to Frampton Marsh will go ahead in September, although we are being challenged with securing accommodation, hoteliers being reluctant to release rooms for a night or two, but looking for three-night deals. This is understandable, bearing in mind the additional sanitising that is now required.

WBC ringers have been frustrated by the lack of ringing opportunities. During lockdown, ringing anywhere other than in the ringer’s own garden was prohibited. In recent years, our ringing group has participated in a number of scientific studies including the running of Constant Effort Sites (CES) at Minsmere. This is part of a BTO scheme that is the first national standardised ringing programme within the BTO Ringing Scheme and has been running since 1983.  This involves ringers operating the same nets in the same locations over the same time period at regular intervals through the breeding season. Sadly, with Minsmere closed, participation was possible this year, but a pilot project that involved setting up a CES in gardens was enjoyed by several members of the team. As restrictions eased, other sites came into play, but we were unable to carry out ringing demonstrations at Dunwich Heath and Minsmere as we have done for so many years. Only two of our larger sites are currently in operation: St James reedbed and Bawdsey Hall. Updates will follow. As we speak, there are signs that autumn migration is already underway with juvenile Willow Warblers being seen on the coast and a Green Sandpiper captured by Roger Walsh whilst ringing at St James.

Many thanks, please keep in touch, best wishes

Steve Piotrowski
25th July 2020