Assessment of commercial sand barge radar for detecting overwintering diving ducks at Lough Neagh

Irena Tomankova, Ruth Kelly, Neil Reid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Overwintering diving ducks at Lough Neagh have declined dramatically in recent years, but it has been suggested that on-to-offshore redistribution may have led to an underestimate of numbers. Most species feed nocturnally and their distribution at night is unknown. We used radar and visual observations from on board commercial sand barges to determine the diurnal distribution of diving duck flocks in an effort to assess the feasibility of using standard
boat-mounted radar to describe their nocturnal feeding distribution. Sand barge radar was poor in identifying flocks compared to independent visual observations as it was sensitive to interference by waves during windy conditions. However, visual observations were useful in describing diurnal distribution. Sand barges were on average 1.5km from shore when a flock of diving ducks was observed and the probability of detection declined with distance from shore. This supports the reliability of shore-based counts in monitoring and surveillance. Given the poor performance of commercially available boatmounted radar systems, we recommend the use of specialised terrestrial Bird Detecting Radar to determine the movements of diving ducks at Lough Neagh.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-562
Number of pages3
JournalIrish Birds
Publication statusPublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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