Tuesday, October 20, 2009

20th October: Release of Pacific Golden Plover

By this afternoon, the bird's weight had gone up to 96g, and I felt I should release it rather than hang on for another day.

I decided to release it at Kampung Pertama, as Hakim has found a flock of Pacific Golden Plovers there, and he visits daily, thereby increasing the chances of us monitoring its movements after release. To help with this, I fitted a couple of colour bands to the legs - a red one on the left tibia and a yellow one on the left tarsus. They aren't leg flags, just bands, so hopefully won't interfere with the flyway flag system.

A view of the underwing.

Free at last? On release the bird walked slowly away from us, watching us the whole time.

At a safe distance it started to preen.

Oil secreted from the preen gland (or uropygial gland) above the tail is wiped onto the bill...

Then the oil is applied to the feathers to waterproof them. It 'zips' the flight feathers through the bill to reconnect all the barbs.

First one wing, then the other.

Returning frequently to the preen gland for a top-up.

At the end of the preening session, the bird 'rouses' to shuffle the feathers back into correct position.

Ready to party!

This was the bird's reaction to a perceived threat from above - a crow flying over. By crouching down the bird hides its white underparts, exposing only the cryptic parts of the plumage which help it blend in with the background.

When we left it was making its way up the field to the large flock of Pacific Golden Plovers at the far end.

When we returned at dusk, we relocated the bird in amongst the flock. You can just about make out the red band in the gloom. A satisfactory end to the episode I felt!


Choy Wai Mun said...

Well done, Dave!

Unknown said...

Great stuff!