Surf scoters and black scoters were instrumented
with PTT100 satellite transmitters (Microwave Telemetry, Inc.,
Columbia, MD) in late winter. This activity took place on both
Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, and the Restigouche River in New
Brunswick, where satellite telemetry is providing new information
about these important areas. The
data collected will be beneficial in protecting critical breeding and
molting habitat of scoters and improving future management of their
telemetry tracking requires that scoters be captured alive.
Several capture techniques successfully used in waterfowl
research are described. Two of these techniques have been successful
on this project.
Mist nets were specially designed to be used in deep waters
and be free floating. Many
obstacles had to be resolved for the nets to withstand wave action,
tides, boat traffic, and lack of visibility, yet work in an open
water environment. Initially,
several prototypes were tested, and after various modifications a
design was adopted. We
now use a design that utilizes fisherman’s “bullet” foam
floats cut in half and clamped around PVC tubing. Pinned to the
float poles are PVC weight poles (1.82m), which have a small cinder
block attached at one end. These weights act as a counter balance
and can be used in fairly shallow water. The cinder block weight is
adequate to submerge the floats so they are not visible above the
water surface. The PVC net poles are attached to the float poles and
painted flat black to reduce their visibility.
The mist nets have a mesh size of 121 mm, measure 12 m by 2.6
m, and have two shelves. Mist
nets are set vertically over water with the entire system secured to
the bottom using 16 m long ropes and Danforth anchors.
Decoys surround the nets in several patterns and many ducks
flew in to the decoys. Once
set, nets are continually monitored.
However, in spite of extensive efforts, no ducks were
captured with mist nets during the winter of 2000-01 and 2001-02.
Net Gun: A capture
net gun (Coda Enterprises, Inc., Mesa, Arizona) was obtained and
numerous techniques were tested with deployment of the net.
A small styrofoam float is attached to the net with a 15 meter
nylon string so it could be retrieved after deployment.
It is obviously important to shoot the net on water with depths
less than the retrieval line length.
Although the net gun worked well, it is dependent on calm seas
to attain proper speed for capture and to safely operate the boat.
This technique is very labor intensive, often 5-10 shots are
necessary for each duck captured.
Also, nets are occasionally lost, which adds to the cost of
this technique. In March
2001, the first scoter (a male surf scoter) was captured from a
fast moving boat from approximately 10 m.
A total of 15 surf scoters have been captured using the net gun
in Chesapeake Bay during 2001-02.
was tried, utilizing long-handled nets and slow-moving boats.
Flood lights were used, either hand-held, or mounted on the bow
of each boat. These
lights were powered by a 12-volt battery, or generator. In the
Chesapeake Bay no birds were captured.
However, 14 black scoters (both males and females) were
captured on the Restigouche River in New Brunswick. The night-lighting
technique worked most successfully when water conditions were calm and
ducks were actively feeding or courting.
Cloudy, foggy, or rainy conditions are optimal. Also, it was
important to maintain a constant speed,
minimizing changes in motor sound volume.
A total of 17 scoters (3 surf and 14 black) have been captured
with the night-lighting technique.
Captured ducks are held in holding crates with bedding
material to keep them dry and warm.
All captured scoters are banded with USGS bands.
It would be beneficial to band ducks immediately after
capture, so time of capture would be known for each duck and also if
ducks were captured together. On one occasion, two female surf
scoters were captured together in one shot, and once a male and
female black scoter in courtship display were captured with a dip
net while night-lighting
Alison, R. M. 1975.Capturing and marking oldsquaws.
Briggs, R. L. 1977.Mist netting waterfowl. N. Amer.
Dau, C. P. 1976.Capturing and marking spectacled
eiders in Alaska. Bird-Banding 47:273.