Friday, 30 October 2009

''How do you catch your Coot?'' a question that I've been asked many times this week. Since my last blog post on colour ringing Coot - I've had quite a number of e-mails from ringers all over the UK and even one from Norway asking how I catch my Coot. So I thought I would put something on the blog for all to see.

Really - it is quite simple. You'll need a couple loafs of bread and a bit of patience and basically just go feeding the ducks! (Of course with the permission of the landowner first) as soon as a Coot comes near enough to catch it - Go for it! You may however get ''funny'' looks from members of the public - most seem to ignore it - but it can be good PR work!

Whilst Me and Craig where out catching birds - he videoed me catching a bird (see below)

Most of the birds I catch are in the water - so am on my hands/knees when catching - however some birds do wander out of the water and will feed at your feet. They seem to be more confident when the weather gets cold and natural food dries up - I've found November and December to be my most productive months. Also they seem to be more confident when larger wildfowl such as Mute Swan / Canada Goose are surrounding them.

Now that's in parks/lakes where the local wildfowl regularly get fed by the public - however not all Coot are tame and certainly at locations were feeding does not occur they can be ''wild''. However Coot can by caught in duck traps and decoys baited with grain/corn - once they have become accustomed to entering them.

It must be said that once you've got hold of a bird, they can be quite vicious! - they scratch, bite and poop everywhere!!

Ageing Coot.

Birds are aged on their tarsus colour - with adults having bright yellow, orange or even red on the side of the tarsus. Juvenile birds have dull legs - side of tarsus grey gradually becoming yellow/orange. Adults also have a black breast were as juvs have white streaks on the breast. Adults have reddish iris and Juvs have brownish. Size of frontal shield is also useful - smaller in juveniles.



So now you know how we catch our Coot - grab some G's and give it a go.....

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Feeding station and Coot.

Out again with Craig netting at the Shakerley feeding station.

Jay (1), Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (2), Willow Tit (2), Bullfinch (2), Goldfinch (2), Chaffinch (2), Blackbird (1) and Dunnock (1).

Then onto catching more Coot for the colour ringing project - 7 more marked. Also caught and ringed 5 Canada Geese & 1 Mute Swan.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Martin Mere controls.

When ring reading at WWT Martin Mere yesterday, we read four rings that were from other countries. Three on Icelandic ringed Whooper Swans and one colour ringed Ruff that had been ringed in the Netherlands.

Whooper Swan - A8344 (Red line) was ringed in Skagafjordur area of Iceland in July 2008 as a (3) cygnet as part of a brood of three. There are no records of it visiting WWT Martin Mere last year.

Whooper Swans - A8142 (Darvic S4A) & A8194 (Darvic S5D) (Pink line) are a pair that were ringed on Lake Sandvatn (Iceland) in August 2008 - as non breeders. I first saw them last year at WWT Caerlaverock on 28/10/2008 then next at WWT Martin Mere on 01/11/2008 & 02/11/2008 then they disappeared. It was only when I was carrying out a swan census around the WWT Welney area on 13/01/2009 that I saw the pair in a field just outside of Welney. Then they were back at WWT Martin Mere on 06/02/2009 and were last seen on 31/03/2009. They arrived back at Martin Mere on 08/10/2009 this year. (See below for a map on their movements)

Ruff - (Green line) waiting to get the full details on this bird - but it was ringed at Warns Skarl Kilf in the Netherlands - 566km

Black Headed Gull - 361203 (Yellow line) I read this ring on 01/12/2006 and recently received some information back. It was ringed at Veluwemeer in Ijssoelmeepolders in the Netherlands as a pullus on 07/05/2004. Movement to Martin Mere - 587km.

S4A & S5D pair of Whooper swans - and their movements (below) during 2008/2009

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Out with Craig.

Met up with Craig today to try and catch more Coot at Southport Marine Lake. However it was very windy and the Coot were hiding! The only Coot we managed to get our hands on were both dead - one being ringed (GC21882) - a control bird. So we turned our attention to catching Mute Swan cygnets for the NWSSG - catching 9 birds in total. Also ringed were 2 Canada Geese & 1 Tufted Duck.

Thanks to Craig for a nice day

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Colour ringing Coots.

I'm now back from my holidays and was out this morning catching Coot. Myself and Steve Christmas have started colour ringing Coot in the North West area to look at winter site fidelity, dispersal to breeding / moulting sites and to get more understanding on Coot movements.

Each bird ringed will carry three colour rings + a BTO metal ring.

Colors used -- Light Blue, Dark Blue, White, Black, Green, Red, Orange, Yellow, Pink and Purple.

Birds are being ringed with 2 colour rings on the Left Leg and a colour ring above the metal ring on the Right leg.

Any sightings of these birds would be gratefully received - sightings can be sent to me at kanebrides''@'' or reported that - All sightings will be acknowledged with full ringing and resighting information.

Saturday, 10 October 2009


I'm currently away on holiday in Turkey for 2 weeks and hoping to meet up with a local ringer next week, for a days ringing - fingers crossed!!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Mipit Control.....

Thanks to Pete Marsh for getting in touch regarding the Meadow Pipit that we controlled last week in Grt Manchester. The bird had been ringed by North Lancashire Ringing Group in September 2008 near Carnfourth - a distance of around 60km to Rivington.

Thanks to Pete & John Wilson for the information.

Thursday, 1 October 2009


Out again with Sean Gray this morning - this time to his Rishworth Quarry site catching Twite.

24 birds caught in total - 23 Twite & 1 Linnet.

11 of the Twite were new (10 this years birds + 1 adult)

12 recaps including one ringed in 2007.

Thanks to Sean for another good morning.