Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Farewell Ducks!

That's me back in good old Stirling now and looking forward to the nesting season that's just around the corner. Already I have clocked onto a pair of Ravens that are scouting for potential nest sites on the cliff faces opposite my bedroom window - my first Scottish nest record card?!

As always I have really enjoyed my time down at Slimbridge, volunteering for The Species Monitoring Unit of WWT. I was sad to leave and even ended up staying a little longer than planned but am happy to be back in 'my patch' and at uni. During the last couple of weeks at Slimbridge I was lucky enough to help out on a number of duck ringing sessions with the wardens. 

Me and 'The Boss'

Through these sessions I have learned a lot about duck ringing, sexing and ageing as before I had little experience of the webbed feet variety!

It was a great opportunity to get to grips with taking biometrics of larger birds. I find taking biometrics of ducks difficult as I always feel like I need bigger hands (the guys make it look so easy!) but with practice I am definitely gaining more confidence. Ducks caught at Slimbridge have their total head, wing and weight measurements taken, this allows us to assess the general health of the birds.

 Fortunately most of the ducks processed were showing very healthy weights which indicates that they are coping well with the wintery conditions and should be strong enough to migrate soon.

As always a number of retraps were processed and these birds help to create a fascinating history for the different species. WWT receive many reports of birds that they have ringed in the UK that have been recovered all across Europe and beyond.

One of the many retraps

Whilst getting to grips with the different duck species I have become fascinated by their plumage, something that is never quite fully appreciated in the field. Personally I never noticed just how beautiful female Pintail's beaks are with the amazing marbling - now one of my favourites!

Absolutely stunning.

A really great way to end my volunteering at the trust and I can't wait until my next volunteering stint there. Thanks to Dave & Kane for teaching more about these cracking birds.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely pics. I share your problem with the small hands, maybe we should petition the BTO for a ladies range of pliers :-)