Discover a feather – a seaside treasure hunt


Off to the seaside this summer season? Scientists from the British Belief for Ornithology (BTO) need individuals to assist shield one in every of our most vibrant geese by searching for his or her distinctive feathers on seashores round UK estuaries.

At the moment of yr, most British Shelduck migrate throughout the North Sea to discover a protected place to moult. Many encounter current or deliberate offshore wind farms alongside the best way, whereas flying at altitudes that set that would set birds on collision programs with sweeping turbine blades. Analysing the feathers they lose will enable scientists to develop a deeper understanding of Shelduck migration routes, one thing that can inform future planning choices and assist to minimise the impression of significant renewable power infrastructure.

Shelduck feathers are simple to identify, whether or not you’re constructing sandcastles, strolling the dog or simply absorbing some rays – or rain. The perfect ones to look out for are round 12–16 cm lengthy, with one white facet and one other that’s both darkish orange or iridescent greenish-black. They may not appear to be a lot, however these feathers are actual treasures that can make an enormous distinction and will reveal data new to science. Simply bear in mind to scrub your palms after you’ve touched them!

Shelduck, copyright Glyn Sellors, from the surfbirds galleries

Shelduck moult all their wing and tail feathers collectively, leaving them flightless for between two and 4 weeks every summer season. To maintain themselves protected, UK Shelduck spend this time on mudflats each right here and throughout the North Sea in Germany and the Netherlands. There are 5 recognized UK moult websites, however there might be many extra that we don’t find out about but. May you assist us discover them?

Ros Inexperienced, lead scientist on the challenge, mentioned: ‘Chemical compounds in a hen’s feathers can reveal a lot about the place the feather was grown and what the hen has been consuming. Build up an image of how Shelduck populations migrate is significant if we wish to be certain that offshore wind farms – that are an important a part of our renewables infrastructure – don’t get of their method.

She added: ‘Looking for Shelduck feathers is an ideal exercise for the summer season holidays. Seashores are filled with all kinds of fascinating issues, so this can be a nice alternative for youths to study extra concerning the world round them concurrently making an actual distinction for science and conservation.’

For extra particulars – and to search out out the place to ship your feathers – head to


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