Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Docked Whooper & The Darvics

Pale-bellied brent goose
I got a text from Guy McClelland this morning saying there was a brent goose, along with a lone barnacle goose among the pinkfeet on Aldcliffe Marsh.
I managed to squeeze in a quick pre-work visit and found the two interlopers in with around 500 pink-footed geese on the saltmarsh, viewed directly out from the parking area. The brent was pretty active, disappearing into the gullies occasionally and even making a short flight within the flock of grazing geese.
It was a pale-bellied brent, presumably from the Svalbard population.
Having got a good goosie eyeful, I had a brief check of the tide rack beyond Walled Meadow; traditionally the best spot to find the first patch wheatears and stonechats. - two species already turning up at other likely sites nearby.

Whooper swan
Unfortunately the area was migrant passerine-free but I did come across a single whooper swan with the mutes. Better still, this bird was ringed.
If memory serves, and it rarely does if I'm honest, this may well be the first ringed whooper I've ever seen at Aldcliffe - exciting stuff! It took a bit of doing but eventually I managed to read the numbers on the red darvic on its right leg. It'll be interesting to learn of this bird's movements.
Reading birds' rings in the field can often be a major challenge, especially when they're the metal BTO-style ones. But the increased use of coloured plastic leg rings, and in some cases collars, has enabled even pretty incompetent oafs like to me to be able to decipher the odd one here and there, thus adding to the expanding knowledge of bird migration.
It's always a real thrill to confirm a sequence of numbers and / or letters and then later receive details of an individual's movements. Just one more element of birding that makes it all so fascinating!

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