Last Sunday morning the Group attended the grasslands and pools close to the Otter Estuary, where many species of duck congregate to feed during the winter months. The Project which is being sponsored by Devon Birds is to ascertain the numbers and movements of Wigeon over a period of four winters prior to any works that may take place by the Environment Agency as part of its flood relief scheme.
Apart from fitting a British Trust for Ornithology metal ring a lime green Darvic ring was fitted at the same time. Each colour ring is engraved with two letters. This will give an observer an opportunity to relay back to the Group where and on which date the bird was seen.
The catch was smaller than hoped, but with several pools it cannot be easy to judge where the birds may be at a particular time. Many hours of observing the movement of the birds by ringer Peter Bennett from his advantage point of his home showed that the birds are constantly on the move whilst feeding from pool to pool. As one needs to set the cannon net the evening before to be precisely accurate can be difficult. Nevertheless, we were able to catch 27 duck of which 19 where Wigeon, seven Mallard and one Shoveler.
Photographs of one of two Wigeon we caught show a green glossy feathering behind the eye apparently indicating geographical location in this case from North West Europe and East Asia where about 10% of the birds show this variation. The Shoveler permitted a very close view of the lamellae in its upper mandible, something useful to record whilst the bird is in the hand.
|First Wigeon to be colour ringed|
|Male Wigeon showing the glossy green behind the eye|
|The Lamellae from the upper mandible of the Shoveler|
|Group and Team Leader debriefing the Team|
(All photographs copyright Mike Tyler)