Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Flying Scootsman Returns North!

Just a few weeks ago we blogged about catching a cr-ringed Coot that was ringed in Greater Manchester, which became the first bird from the project to be re-sighted in Scotland. It returned back to it’s wintering (& ringing site) at Crompton Lodges near Farnworth in December 2012 and we managed to catch it in January 2013 were we replaced it’s rings.

Big Coot.

This week I got a call from Andrew Bramhall in the Scottish Borders to say he’d seen a colour ringed Coot on the River Tweed at Tweedbank and it soon became apparent that this was the newly re-ringed ASC returning back north!

Coot ASC showing darvic TB 23rd Few 2013

ASC tucking into some Scottish bread! Photo: Andrew Bramhall..

Andrew thought his initial sighting of ASC would be the last, however ASC soon departed the River Tweed and presumably during the night relocated to Gunknowe Loch, Tweedbank where apparently a territorial pair were seeing off ASC! So I guess he will not be sticking around there for too long! I wonder where it’ll be sighted next!? Gillian Dinsmore will have to go on the look for him and confirm whether he’s breeding up there!!

ASC Red pin – Ringing location ~ Farnworth, Grt Manchester 23/12/2010.

Yellow pin – Straiton, Midlothian sighted on 02/02/2012 – 264km N

Red pin – re-sighted back in Farnworth on 28/12/2012

Purple pin – re-sighted in Tweedbank – 20/02/13 & 22/02/13. 229km N

Many thanks to Andrew and others who have reported this bird……….

Friday, 8 February 2013

The Wild Goose Chase is OVER!

I’ve now been in Bulgaria for nearly two weeks and over this period we’ve been out working 15+ hour days monitoring, counting & weighing up catching locations and also trying to catch Red-breasted geese! As soon as darkness fell we’d be out in the field working into the night setting cannon nets, often setting up to 4 nets a night!

Over the last two weeks we seen many a Red-breasted goose approach the catching area only to be flushed off by a White tailed sea eagle, Goshawk, Peregrine or a Long legged buzzard! There have been times when we’ve worked late into the night setting nets and the birds just didn’t turn up the day after!

Today was our last day of catching! It was now or never! After carefully watching the birds all day yesterday, we kept birds off the ‘green patches of wheat’ in the fields & set 4 cannon nets in likely places last night. Exhausted we returned back to our hotel & were up well before dawn. Within half an hour of me & Bob being in the tent (our firing point!) we had successfully made a catch of Red-breasted geese & White-fronted geese! Oh WOW!

Here’s some photos!!


I have never been so scared & nervous in all my life - as today when I pressed this red button & fired the cannon nets, on Bob's call - the net flew out & caught 91 Red-breasted geese & 28 White-fronted geese! So HAPPY -  Making all those long days in the field over the last 2 weeks worthwhile!


The world’s most stunning goose species!?



Peter Cranswick – WWT’s Head of Species Recovery – fitting satellite transmitters.


Two very happy WWT Conservation staff holding the world’s most endangered goose species!


A Red-breasted goose in a special ‘goose jacket’ designed to keep the birds still in order for us to x-ray them. We were x-raying birds to see see whether any were carrying gun shot in their tissue.


One of eleven male RBGs that we fitted with tags to help us answer many questions, in order to help conserve the species.


Bob Swann – lead cannon netter keeping us all in check and directing the setting of cannon nets!


Go, go, go – go and help us collect data to help us answer those questions!


One of 28 White-fronted geese that we caught. All carrying neck collars.


Packing up the cannon net that held over 100 birds! Non got out! Whoooh!

Staff back at Caerlaverock & Slimbridge have already been in touch with us to let us know that the first fixes from the transmitters have been received – phew!

What a trip! It has had it’s low points and it’s high points! I’m now looking forward to celebrating with the team tonight, going looking for Eagle owls tomorrow and then flying home on Sunday – looking forward to a nice break!! Massive thanks to the team out here from WWT Anne & Peter. The Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds. Thanks to Bob Swann for assisting us on this trip and for teaching me so much! Being cooped up in a tiny tent with Bob for large periods of times allowed me to pick his brain on everything cannon netting! Thanks also to my Line Managers for sending me on such an awesome WWT trip!

More photos here -