Thursday, 1 March 2012

Caerlaverock Swan Catch

Yesterday I took part in my first swan catch at WWT Caerlaverock. I traveled from Stirling early yesterday morning and met up with the team at Caerlaverock for a pre-catch briefing. Being able to take part in the swan catch was special to me as the first bird I ever held was a Whooper swan at WWT Caerlaverock when I started volunteering for the trust back in 2008, before I was even a ringer!

The catch ran smoothly with 204 swans being safely caught in the swan pipe along with a handful of Mallards.

Inside the swan pipe

Of the 204 swans caught, 57 were Mutes and the rest were all Whoopers. WWT swan catches are very important to the trust's ongoing monitoring work and as part of this work every Whooper swan processed received a Darvic colour ring that can be read in the field. Sightings from these birds have helped map the species' migratory routes as well as establishing both breeding and wintering grounds. If you see any colour-marked wildfowl then you can report it using the colour-ringing website.

I really enjoyed my first swan catch experience and it was great to get to grips with taking biometrics of swans, a completley different kettle of fish to wee Coots I'm used to that's for sure! All swans processed had their full biometrics taken: wing, weight, skull & tarsus, along with being aged and sexed.

Getting so close to the Whoopers allowed me to appreciate their unique bill patterns, absolutely stunning.

The catch was a great opportunity to catch up with the Slimbridge team as well as to meet other local ringers from The North Solway Group and beyond, such as fellow bloggers Kev Scott & Sean Gray from The Isle of Man.

A real treat was ringing a Whooper swan. Whoopers are a real favourite of mine and I love them even more now after admiring them up close, I especially love the way some make soft 'whoop whoop' calls as you process them!

Massive thanks to the team and to WWT for inviting me along. A brief trip now back home to Stranraer, the first time this year I've been home! Hopefully I will get out ring reading and nest recording to start of my first nest record card for the BTO's Nest Record Scheme (NRS), wish me luck!


  1. Hi Gillian, it was great to meet you. Some great photos of the day on your blog. I wouldnt mind using some on my blog if thats OK?

    1. Hi Kev,

      Thanks and feel free to use any of the photos, if you send me your email then I can email you some more. I have some photos of you taking biometrics too.