31 May 2011

3 May: Catching and handling - isn't that harmful?

Truly - it seems obvious. The birds must be scared by a big bang, a cannon-net flying over their heads, a herd of people running over the marshes to pull the geese out of the nets, and some hours of handling.

We do our utmost to harm the birds as little as possible. When they are in the net we cover them with a tarpaulin cloth so they can't see us, and that makes them calm down. In between handling they are stored in tents on the marshes or in wooden storing boxes lined with hay, again so they can't see us. When we catch the geese, an average bird is handled less than 10 minutes (we handled 60 birds between 7:00 and 12:00 3 May). All birds are released together, so paired birds and goslings have a chance to find each other soon after release.

But perhaps the best evidence for a low impact is that hundreds of geese including several of the newly ringed geese have been seen almost daily on the catchsites after our intervention, that birds easily can manage to fly 2,500 just a few weeks later - and that we still can find live birds in the flocks, we ringed 15-20 years ago. Additionally seven of the eight transmitter birds were observed in the field between 4 May and 25 May, six of them with a female we also ringed, and one with an unringed partner.