The two Tufted Ducks with Portuguese nasal saddles, which visited East India Dock Basin Nature Reserve last spring, have returned.
The female, originally marked at Säo Jacinto Dunes Nature Reserve, Portugal on 14th January 2011, reappeared at the Basin on 28th March this year, and has been seen intermittently since then. The male, marked at the same Portuguese site on 16th December 2007, returned to the Basin on 10th April and immediately seemed to pair up with the female.
Despite their apparent attachment, they spent the winter apart, as the male returned to Portugal, being seen back at Säo Jacinto Dunes between 26th November and 20th February, while the female was not seen back at Säo Jacinto. Her whereabouts since leaving East India Dock Basin last spring is unknown.
Nasal saddles, which cause no harm or inconvenience to the birds, are fitted as a way of tracking the movements of ducks. This enables us to better understand the international importance of wetlands, and so helps conservation. Leg rings are used in a similar way on many birds, but require the bird to be re-trapped before they can be read. Nasal saddles are much more obvious and can be read in the field. For more on nasal saddles, see the Portuguese Ducks website.
Photo: the male Tufted Duck with its nasal saddle, photographed in Portugal (David Rodrigues/www.pt-ducks.com)