Splay Collection and Preservation
Splay Collection and Preservation

Collecting a Splay

There are over 8,350 species of flying birds and for each of them there are something like 600 possible dietary combinations. Even when ignoring factors such as seasonal fluctuations, new synthetic foods or insecticides — all of which cause excremental variations — a total of 5,000,000 quite distinct types of birdsplay may now be collected on windshields around the world at any one time.

Our windshields are in fact, extremely efficient collecting nets. At just 60 MPH the average windshield sweeps a volume of air equal to 594 cu. ft. per second. On a 60 mile journey, that's the same as spreading a net of some 396,817 sq. ft. Or, to put it another way, 100 hours of driving equates with a gigantic windshield nearly 1.5 miles square miles in area, held aloft for one sixteenth of a second. With such an effective gathering device positioned in front of our eyes, it is easy to see why the growing store of fascinating information about dejecta has led to splay collection becoming a major global pastime.

The two most important factors in the capture and preservation of splays are a collection surface enabling the splay to be easily removed, and the proper observance of correct drying times so that the specimen remains intact. Most splay enthusiasts prepare the surface of their windshield by first wiping it down with a damp cloth. A sheet of good quality clear plastic film of the clingy type is then laid over the glass. Provided there is some moisture underneath, the film will remain bubble free and sit firmly in place without the need for additional fixing. Once a splay has formed on the surface, it can be easily removed with the specimen in situ.

Splays that strike uncovered windshields may be loosened with a clear high–grade oil such as oleander or witch–hazel. They can then be carefully removed with a flexible blade. However, this should not be attempted until sufficient drying time has allowed the formation of a binding crust or skak. The skak should cover the entire surface of the splay. It is also important to check that the skak is of sufficient consistency to firmly hold larger nucleic particles such as insect debris, seeds, etc. As most drying is achieved by driving which creates an air–flow over the specimen, it is necessary to be constantly alert to the danger of losing these more wind prone pieces and thus significantly lowering the value of the splay.


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