|The Tay reedbed runs for 15km along the estuary, the largest continuous reedbed in the UK|
Around this time last year, Iain Malzer conducted a radio-tracking study of these elusive birds, following them around the reedbed. He was intrigued when he found that none of them moved out of the Tay area during what is assumed to be a traditionally dispersive period. However, this year the picture is quite different. When the population reaches the huge numbers we’ve seen on the Tay this year, ‘Beardies’ sometimes undergo irruptive movements, flying in small flocks in all directions. By understanding the extent and drivers of these movements, we can observe how connected these birds are at a population level, how they remain stable genetically and how they colonise and occupy new areas of reedbed.
|Photo (c) Amy Lewis|
Many of the birds ringed on the Tay have unique colour-ring combinations, allowing us to identify exactly who they are. Birds may have three colour-rings in any combination of red, orange, green, yellow, light blue, dark blue, white, grey and black. Reports of any sightings, colour-ringed or not, at your local reedbed will be an essential contribution to the understanding of the movement systems of these peculiar birds and their wider conservation.
|One of the colour-ringed birds (a female) from the Tay reedbed|
So if you're out over the autumn and winter, listen out for the unique ‘pinging’ of Beardies (have a listen on xeno-canto here) and let’s leave no reedbed unchecked.