Thursday, 23 January 2014

Pinkies Galore

It has been some time since any significant numbers of pink-footed geese have been ringed in the UK, with the group's last catch being 20 birds at the Loch of Skene in 2008. However when we heard colleagues at the WWT had 2 GPS neck collars to fit on 2 pink-footed geese, we were keen to help out. With a stalwart group baiting and checking a site on the outskirts of Aberdeen with a mixture of tatties, carrots and grain a small catch looked imminent.

After weeks of dedication all things aligned and we were set to take a small cannon net catch of pink-footed geese. With the birds finally on the bait around lunch time, 30 were in the area and I gave Carl Mitchell from the WWT the "3.2.1. Fire" command  only to be met by "hold on a minute I need to just charge the firing box up first". Luck was on our side and as the box charged up, so did the geese. With the box charged we took a catch, with the net flying beautifully and catching an incredible 91 pink-footed geese - our second largest ever catch.
Pink-footed geese waiting to be extracted (Euan Ferguson)
With a good team of 12 we were able to quickly extract and process all birds, fitting each with a neck collar containing a unique 3 letter combination for reading in the field. Two special birds were fitted with incredibly light weight GPS neck collars to track their movements as part of a pilot project to gather information about feeding and roost site use in the UK.

High tech pink-foot (Euan Ferguson)
So far the birds have remained fairly local. We will bring you updates on their movements later in the winter and hopefully when they have safely arrived back in Iceland.

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