(Photo taken at Southport Marine Lake, Dec 10 by Stephen Menzie)
December 2010 was exceptionally cold across the UK; the coldest December in over 100 years and it was the coldest calendar month since February 1986! This saw most of the countries’ lakes & ponds frozen over which placed huge numbers of wildfowl on the move in search for open water.
At times Southport Marine Lake was 90% frozen and thanks mainly to the Mute Swans, they kept a patch of water open for themselves and other water birds. This provided perfect Coot catching conditions and allowed a sample of birds to be assessed on how well the birds were coping with the adverse weather conditions. Over a three day period 233 Coot were hand captured & colour ringed at Southport, with an amazing 106 in one day, as the birds came to bread.
Now as we move on into Summer and put that memorable Winter behind us, I thought it would be worthwhile bringing an update to the blog on where some of these birds have since been sighted.
Just days after ringing, the first sightings started to trickle in as birds moved around. GR25043 sighted 10km at WWT Martin Mere 2 days after ringing, then reported on territory at nearby Mere Sands Woods in March 2011 and GR25270 reported 4 days later at Seaforth, Merseyside 21km – may give indication of local birds.
However a rapid movement made by GR25118, 390km SSW in 26 days to Cornwall was impressive and GR25010 sighted 299km SSE in 80 days to Salisbury, gives a good representation of how far some birds dispersed from Southport.
Of the 212 marked birds, 117 have been reported since ringing with 41 of these being away from Southport Marine Lake.
It’ll be interesting to see whether any of these birds return back this coming winter, or whether their last visit to Southport was a result of the severe weather pushing them there…..
In the meantime it would be most useful if you could check your local Coots for colour rings and report any sightings to me at kanebrides’@’gmail.com