Thursday, 31 December 2009

Duck day.

Went along to help ring the catch at the Blunham trap from last night. Two days ago, we (Arnold and I) had inspected the south lake and the trap. Three-quarters of the lake was frozen over with an open channel from the boat right the way across to the trap. The trap was full of Tufted, there was a decent number of Gadwall, perhaps 150, about 70 Pochard and a handful of odds and sods. The water level was rising.

Ringer (Chris), winger (Paul) & flinger (Joe)

This catch was the first of the winter, mainly due to the lousy weather we've been having, but ringing had also been put off because of the low number of migrant duck on the local lakes.

"Am I the first?"

"Yes. Just shut up; there's a queue building up"

The total catch was 160 - 127 new & 33 recaptures; of these, 86 (60 + 26) were Tufted. Second highest were Gadwall with 48 birds (43 + 5).

Gadwall - soft as tripe?

"That's what you think. I'll be off in a trice"

Compared to the Tufted, the Gadwall were a 'wilder' proposition, prepared to wriggle given the slightest chance. You may have twigged that we ring on the left leg. It's safer for us "amateurs", as you can cradle the bird better. Boss man, Arnold, rings on the right - and much quicker, so much so, you have to keep alert if you're scribing!

"Errol did me today"

There were just 7 Teal, 4 Pochard including 1 retrap, five Wigeon, a lone female Goldeneye and a couple of handfuls of Mallard that had most likely been released at a 'farm' about 3 miles south of here. These last were a bit of a farmyard mixture (but looking to all intents and purposes like the real thing), and most preferred to walk back "to the digs" .

"... and me!"

The noticeable thing was the large number of male birds throughout compared to females, especially with the Tufteds. There were also very few 1CY birds. Sexing is generally easy. Ageing is done on the tail first and foremost, with median coverts, primary tips, eye colour, leg colour, moult limits all playing a part. In the last resort, we age and sex the ones we're not quite sure of after a cloacal examination.

My next job is to put IPMR on trainee Chris's computer and get him inputting these data and working backwards through umpteen years worth. I then might give him a hand putting the recoveries in!

1 comment:

Phil said...

Nice finish to the year Errol.
All the best. Phil