The Penelope project takes off in the UK
The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) has started work on the UK phase of a leading international project to track Eurasian duck duck.
Entitled Project Penelope, after the Latin name of the duck Maréca penelope, the study will follow the species’ flyway with fieldwork carried out in the UK, Denmark and Finland. BASC, in partnership with the Waterfowlers Network, will record winter movements, flight paths and breeding sites for the species.
The results will aid management and conservation regimes across Europe for a species whose breeding density and range have declined over the past 20 years.
Over the next three years, a dedicated army of researchers and bird banding volunteers in the UK, Denmark and Finland will ring over 6,000 ducks. In addition, GPS-GSM trackers will be installed on a hundred ducks to display live updates.
BASC Scientific Director Dr Matt Ellis said: “The results of this study could be monumental in understanding the reasons for the recent decline in the species’ breeding population.”
“The combined Penelope project will be the largest Eurasian duck study. BASC is extremely excited to play a major role in the future of the species.
Iben Hove Sørensøn, Biologist and Secretary of the Waterfowlers Network, said: “The Penelope Project is an international collaborative project between the shooting community and scientists aimed at improving our knowledge of one of the most popular career ducks in Europe.
“The project will provide valuable information on habitat use, movement and demography of duck ducks. The results will help inform decisions on protected sites and secure sustainable hunting. “
Funding for the project comes from the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and a £ 50,000 grant from the Wildlife Habitat Charitable Trust (WHCT). A charity created by BASC to fund wetland conservation projects in 1981.
Paul Williamson, WHCT Secretariat and BASC Land Management Officer, said: “The WHCT funds projects that seek to conserve and enhance biodiversity. The Penelope Project has the capacity to deepen our understanding of this magnificent species and secure its future on our shores.
The project is supported by Defra and the European Association of Hunters (FACE).