Project summary

Birds colour-marked

Sightings received

Years project started

Colour-marks used
Blue leg ring, 2 yellow characters (combination of letters and numbers) on one leg with BTO metal on other leg.
Lime leg ring, 2 black characters (combination of letters and numbers) on one leg with BTO metal on other leg.


The large, brightly coloured Shelduck is a familiar bird of estuaries and muddy shores, throughout Britain and Ireland, where it feeds on small invertebrates sieved from the surface layers of the mud. Most Shelducks in western Europe undertake a moult migration to the Helgoland Bight in Northwest Germany followed by a gradual return to the breeding areas. A small minority of British & Irish Shelducks, however, moult locally.

This project started in 2017 at WWT Martin Mere in Lancashire, the most important catching location for Shelduck in Britain. The group has recorded over 4000 sightings providing information on movements both within Britain and overseas across Europe. The information from birds already marked will also provide greater understanding of movements of this species between Britain’s estuaries. Further recruitment into this project will provide sufficient numbers of sightings to provide updated survival estimates.

All of the resighting data will also feed into a current PhD project researching the migration of Shelduck in relation to offshore wind farms. Any colour-ring sightings of these birds will help to improve our understanding of how Shelduck move around the country and continent.

With thanks to the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust for facilitating access to the swan pipe at WWT Martin Mere for the capture of Shelduck.

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