A bird on the wing

Heather Warrender

Heather Warrender

Heather is BASC’s science officer. She has a BSc in Animal Science and an MSc in Wildlife Management from Newcastle University. She has undertaken several research projects has been involved in the management and conservation of a small grouse moor from an early age.

Heather Warrender and Kane Brides discuss the importance of BASC’s wing survey to the future of sustainable shooting…

What is the wing survey?

The wings of quarry-listed species can provide us with a wealth of invaluable information on the age structure of wild duck, goose and some wader populations, and gender ratios of some species.

Over time, such information can help us to demonstrate the principles of sustainable shooting. That is, shooters only take sustainable portions of the populations.

For ducks in particular, we can assess both the age and sex of individuals from the wing. That means that we’re able to monitor sex ratios but also monitor breeding success over time. This in turn provides vital knowledge on their annual breeding success and is an extremely useful tool for monitoring the state of our wild bird populations. Visit our website to see how patterns have changed over time for Wigeon and Teal.

Why is the wing survey important?

Data from wing surveys across the world are used to monitor shot populations.

Countries such as the United States, Denmark and France run successful annual wing surveys which feed data in to informing international trends such as the Wetlands International’s Waterbird Population Estimates (WPE).

Working with the Waterfowlers’ Network, we intend to share data and results from our wing survey to contribute to the overall bigger picture of what is happening across the flyway.

This combined effort from all countries who share the northwest European flyway is key to underpin the sustainability of shooting and contribute to the conservation of our shared populations.

Why should people take part?

Data is king in demonstrating our sustainability credentials and across a social and political landscape where we increasingly have to prove and justify our activities.

By taking part in the wing survey, you will playing an active part in securing the future of responsible, sustainable shooting.

No data equals uncertainty

We are seeing an increasing amount of regulation coming into the world of wildfowling and much of this is due to the uncertainty surrounding our migratory bird populations. In particular, the numbers of birds harvested, population trends and changing distributions are all under scrutiny.

By contributing to this survey, we can build on the data we have already, using this to swap uncertainty for certainty. Through an evidence-led approach, we can make more informed future decisions regarding the hunting of certain species.

How do I get involved?

To get involved in the wing survey you need to do the following:

  • Remove one wing from each duck or goose that you shoot, as close to the body as possible using either a knife or secateurs, ensuring you get all the tertial feathers, and ideally the axillaries too (see below images).
  • Place all wings from the same day and location in the same zip-lock bag or sealed container and write the date and the county in which they were shot in permanent marker.
  • Seal the bag and place in the freezer.

Then either;

  • Post your wings to BASC Head Office (DWS, BASC, Marford Mill, Rossett, Wrexham, LL12 0HL).
  • Arrange with your club or joint council to collect your wings and for your representative to bring them along to or arrange collection from one of our regional offices.
  • Email monitoring@basc.org.uk to discuss alternative arrangements.

If you have any questions regarding the survey or would like to discuss our work in this area in more detail, get in touch here.

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