By Adriana Arnal (Follower at Valencia)
Wading on waterproof boots across the marshes. We walked on a crust of crystallised salt and the feeling was like walking on a planet (as I imagine it). The sunset dyed everything as we set the nets, spreading them out with the fall of the sun as background.
We were in the Marismas del Odiel, Huelva,
and our purpose: Monitor larolimic birds during the night.
During the 18th and 19th of August we could participate and enjoy the banding of shorebirds and gulls that was going to take place there during the whole week in this incredible place.
This banding project is of great importance since it allows us to gather information on the status of these species and their populations, to know the migratory routes, as well as whether their wintering and breeding sites are optimal in terms of feeding or others, in short, to obtain data for the conservation and improvement of the knowledge of the populations of gulls, terns and waders that use our Natura 2000 Network sites as technical stops in their migrations of thousands of kilometres.
We had come to Huelva for several purposes; to help in this activity, to learn as much as possible, and to interact with both coordinators and volunteers participating in the LIFE Followers project from different parts of Spain (and even Europe). The reality is that they all came true.
Banding consisted of a series of rounds in which birds were captured and collected for subsequent data collection and placement of the ring.In one of the rounds of the second night we managed to take out 70 birds of different species: common redshanks, curlew sandpiper, turnstones, black-tailed and bar-tailed godwit, different species of terns, gulls…
Then we would arrive at the workplace and in a well-organised human chain, the necessary measures were taken for birds and people due to COVID19 pandemic and the individuals were ringed. Then they were released.
It was exciting to see so much activity, a group of people working together to achieve the goal in one hour and to be able to go back and check the nets. Careful hands holding feathers, legs and beaks. Then we would put our boots back on and go through the water under the stars.
But there was also time to get to know each other, to talk about how we had got there and what our experience in the project had been like.
All this made the experience both professionally and personally enriching.
It is important to highlight this type of activity, which involves effort and dedication and provides us with useful information for the management of our spaces and the conservation of species.But it is also important to thank, for having shared this experience with us, Carlos Molina, coordinator of the volunteering in Doñana, and all the people who are part of this project.