An automatic incubation recorder for wildfowl
Automatic recording devices which can be buried under ducks' nests to provide records of incubation rhythms have been developed by workers in North America, though no detailed accounts of their construction and use seem to have been published. Such equipment appeared to have obvious application to the nests of Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna (L.)), where it could be easily disguised. During the winter of 1962-63 various prototype equipments were constructed and eventually a crude but effective working apparatus was used in North Kent during the 1963 breeding season. Apart from a wide variety of miscellaneous sites the principal Shelduck nesting places in the area under observation were in rabbit burrows, trees, or hay and straw; all were of roughly equal importance. Hay and straw sites seemed most suitable for recorder experiments and the co-operation of farmers was obtained in arranging interiors of barns and sheds to make them more suitable. Farm buildings chosen all had a previous tradition as breeding sites, and artificial nesting places were constructed in them with bales of straw, meal bags, corrugated iron and other miscellany. Five of these sites were subsequently occupied.
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