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Last Updated: Friday, 8 February 2008, 13:08 GMT
Painted birds confuse twitchers
Oystercatcher with painted yellow breast
The dye is said to be harmless but makes them easy to spot
Researchers using dye to paint birds they are tracking off the Gower coast are causing confusion for twitchers.

Over 100 Oystercatchers have had their normally white breasts turned yellow to make them easy to spot.

But it has left some bird watchers, unaware of the project, believing they have discovered a new species.

The joint tracking project between the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW) and the British Trust for Ornithology aims to shed light on their movements.

A team of ornithologists spent a day at Whiteford Burrows National Nature Reserve, on Gower, catching, ringing, and marking 136 birds.

Pembrey County Park ranger David Hughes said: "Information gathered will be tied in with other surveys enabling an overview of the bird's movements.

"They have been spotted as far away as Dale in Pembrokeshire - that's 65-miles - and Mumbles on Gower.

"Park visitors get quite excited if they spot the birds and are unaware of the project believing their have spotted a new species."

He said some had also raised concerns the dye would hurt the Oystercatchers when preening.

"The dye used is picric acid. It is harmless and will last the winter but will be lost when the birds naturally shed the feathers in moult before the summer," added Mr Hughes.

He said for the project to be a success they needed help from members of the public who spot one.

They are asked to contact the British Trust for Ornithology or the visitor centre at Pembrey Country Park.

SEE ALSO
Rare bird's first Welsh sighting
03 Dec 07 |  South West Wales
Rare bird is spotted by schoolboy
16 Oct 06 |  North East Wales
'Alarming' decline of UK wading birds
04 Jun 03 |  Science/Nature

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