Sharp-eyed birdwatchers at East India Dock Basin have spotted two tufted ducks bearing red saddles on their bills this spring. The first, a male, was seen on 17th April, then again on 27th. On 1st May he was joined by a similarly-marked female.
A little online research revealed that both ducks had been marked at Säo Jacinto Dunes Nature Reserve, Portugal; the male (“RedU1”) on December 16th 2007 and the female (“Red-1”) on January 14th 2011. That is 1375 kilometres from East India Dock Basin. Both birds were noted in the Säo Jacinto area until 28th February this year and were then re-found in France at the Reserve de la Graude Noé, Val de Reuil, Normandie, where they remained from 26th March to 8th April. The next sightings were at the Basin. For more information, see the Birding East India Dock Basin blog.
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: female Tufted Duck “Red-1” at East India Dock Basin (John Archer)