Somerset Ornithological Society - Bird News
This Forum is Locked
Spaxton Wildfowl Collection

Today, in an attempt to add some rigour to the debate about the Hawkridge Hooded Merganser, I tracked down and met the gentlemen who owns a wildfowl collection in the village of Spaxton. He also kindly allowed me to view the collection in situ on his lake and grounds.

I offer the following facts that emerged from our meeting (any speculation I leave to others):

He has owned and kept wildfowl for more than 20 years and "knows his stuff".

Most of his collection are pinioned, but importantly, some are free flying individuals.

He has 4 Hooded Merganser in his collection; 3 are pinioned, one is not. The free flying male bird was not present on his lake during our conversation!

He has some Smew in the collection, all are pinioned; but he gets up to 4 visiting Smew in some winters.

He has not had any Ring Necked Duck in his collection for some years - because they all have escaped over the years.

He has only a few Mandarin (pinioned) but get up to 14 free flying visitors in the evenings coming in for feed.

I leave you to decide on the merits as to why his collection is largely unringed - it was not a topic I felt he would have welcomed. His views on the latest edicts on pinioning are also something you might like to speculate on - he was quite voluble on the subject. Overall I found him to be very helpful.

I have given this a separate subject heading, as I feel the topic merits it - but have included a reference under the Hooded Merganser thread. I shall also put something in the Hooded Merganser thread on BirdForum to aid the debate on the bird's provenance.

Re: Spaxton Wildfowl Collection

Good for you, Ash, for doing the legwork on this. I found a female Hooded Merganser in Tenerife some years ago, which I believe became perhaps the first proven genuine Transatlantic migrant. It was exhausted and suspicious when it arrived, and crucially, we did some research on the island about wildfowl collections, as part of the provenance. They do come over, and eliminating the possible is a necessary first step in raising their possible wild origin. Well done, and a pity!

Re: Spaxton Wildfowl Collection

Does this cast doubt on the majority (all?) of local ring-necked duck records?

Does he keep lesser scaup too?

Re: Spaxton Wildfowl Collection


He has none of the scaup species in his collection - the nearest species is a few tufties.

He hasn't had a RN Duck in the past 8 or so years - so I suspect his escapees are unlikely to still be around (don't know the average age for RN Duck survival in the wild) - but this is getting into the realms of speculation, so I'll bow out now.

rgds Ash