Sunday, 14 February 2010

We meet again.

After a WWT swan catch you'll often hear the researchers & ring readers say ''now the work begins'' and as I write this I'm sat on a train on my way home from WWT Caerlaverock in Scotland. I was sent up there to help find out ''who is who'' - by this I mean to try and figure out which Whooper Swan is paired with the other and which family party that cygnet belongs to! Once fieldwork is complete the information then gets added to the ever increasing database.

One of the utmost pleasures (and I do count myself very lucky) of helping to research a migratory species is being able to spend time in both it's wintering and summering country. Chasing after Whooper Swans in boats in Iceland and eagerly awaiting their return to the UK, to welcome back ''old friends'' is a spectacle that never ceases to amaze me.

However the last time I saw Whooper Swan A8461 was when I was ringing it on lake Brennitjorn in Northen Iceland on 05.08.09. We caught it with it's mother + 2 siblings. Unfortunately due to a delayed nesting start (due to snow in May!) these cygnets were very small and therefore unable to hold darvic (plastic) rings. We did however, metal ring these birds and released them - which left us pondering as to whether they would actually make it to the UK that winter.
It seems they did. Sadly though, we recovered A8461 this week - found dead just a mile away from WWT Martin Mere underneath power line cables. Unfortunately power lines are an ever increasing threat to Whooper Swans. I pleased to report that United Utilities have acted quickly and placed deflectors on this stretch of line, which hopefully will decrease the number of hits.

On a happier note whilst at Caerlaverock, Larry Griffin told me that Barnacle Goose - Yellow 3S - is back for its 23rd year. Having first been caught in Svalbard as a juv in 1986 this goose has been seen on the Solway Firth nearly every year since then. I find it quite amazing since that 3S is older than me and has travelled to and from the Solway over many years.

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