Wing Survey

Please collect duck, goose and woodcock wings this season.

If you have collected any wings over the season, please wrap them securely in a plastic bag, then put them in a cardboard box or padded envelope and post to DWS, BASC, Marford Mill, Rossett, Wrexham LL12 0HL. Please post on Mondays or Tuesdays to avoid the wings being held in a sorting office over the weekend.

We are asking shooters to collect duck and goose wings from each bird they shoot to help us demonstrate the sustainability of our sport.

Duck, goose and woodcock wings can provide us with invaluable information on the age and gender ratios of our wild duck populations and, over time, can help us to demonstrate that we take a sustainable portion of the population. The information can also help us to identify where potential issues may be causing problems. For example, declining proportions of young birds in the bag might indicate problems on the breeding grounds.

Every wing submitted will be aged and sexed using characteristics of the feathers. Once we have that data the wing will be destroyed by incineration and will not be used for any further testing. A small proportion may be preserved for demonstration and education purposes at shows and events. We are not conducting any tests including, but not limited to, DNA analysis or chemical analysis on any wings you have sent us. If in the future, we wish to conduct further tests (for example, stable isotope analysis to assess where ducks are migrating from) then we will seek your explicit consent for these tests.

How can you help?

  • 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 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 to discuss alternative arrangements.

Although the wing survey has been run since the 1960s, we unfortunately only have data that is compatible with today’s data going back to the mid-1980s. However, this is still a fantastic 30+ years’ worth of invaluable data on the age and sex ratios of our quarry species.

The total number of wings provided to the survey had varied quite widely over the years and since the end of the survey in 2002 we have not yet managed to achieve the contributions that were seen in previous years. We would like to thank everyone who has supported the survey over the years and encourage you to promote this scheme to your fellow wildfowlers and duck and goose shooters.

A key factor in studying our duck and goose species is the acknowledgement that they are migratory species, and we are, in many cases, the end of their migratory routes. In recent years ‘short-stopping’ which is when migratory species end their migratory route earlier than usual has been observed which has, in turn, shown a decline in some species over-wintering in the UK. Short-stopping can occur for a number of reasons which can inter-link however it is thought that warmer winters are not pushing the birds south as they used to.

Working with the Waterfowlers’ Network we intend to collaborate on our individual wing surveys to paint a better picture of what is happening across the flyway.

Over the years the species which have been requested through the survey has changed resulting in patchy data for some species however Wigeon and Teal have complete datasets.

Wigeon

Age and sex ratios

A graph showing the age/sex ratio of wigeon

The age ratios for Teal seem to have fluctuated more than that of Wigeon which is something we are going to investigate. However, a ratio of 50:50 seems to be expected in the UK. As Teal migrate across the flyway the percentage of juveniles within the population has been seen to drop from 89% in northern Finland to 58% in western France (Guillemain et al., 2010).

Breeding success

From the data collected we can also calculate a breeding success rate from the number of juveniles per adult female. There are some quite large fluctuations seen here however again, the fluctuations have remained consistently around the mean and there is no increasing or declining trend.

Teal

Teal along with Wigeon make up a large proportion of the samples submitted to the wing survey.

Age and sex ratios

The age ratios for Teal seem to have fluctuated more than that of Wigeon which is something we are going to investigate. However, a ratio of 50:50 seems to be expected in the UK. As Teal migrate across the flyway the percentage of juveniles within the population has been seen to drop from 89% in northern Finland to 58% in western France (Guillemain et al., 2010).

Breeding success

Teal breeding success according to our data has been lower than average since 1996 however with missing data between 2002 and 2017 we cannot determine if this has been consistent. We hope to have an increase in submissions over the coming years so that we can better monitor population dynamics such as these within our quarry species.

Mallard and other species

Unfortunately, in the historical survey Mallard were specifically not asked for due to the high number of released birds which would skew the results of the survey for this species. Currently we ask for wild Mallard only (those which are shot on sites which do not release farmed Mallard). Due to this we only have four years worth of data for Mallard 1986/87 and the past three years of which we cannot yet form valuable trend data for. Same same can be said for the other quarry species too however but the hope is that we will build up datasets for other species too.

Guide to the sex and age of European ducks

You can find out about the ageing and sexing ducks in a newly-released guide by the ONCFS available online here.

This book is also available in hard back. Please complete the Duck wing guide order form and return it to ONCFS.

PEDS Poster