Monday, 13 July 2015

Do satellite tags hinder our woodcock?

One of our kind sponsors recently asked whether the satellite tags we use to track our woodcock ever hinder them in terms of flight, feeding or courtship.

Here was our response:

With regards to the potential impacts of the tags upon the birds: these are clearly questions we are constantly asking ourselves.

Obviously the welfare of the bird is paramount and the continued use of the tags depends entirely upon their safe use.

Additionally, it is important to us that the tags are comfortable and have no impact upon the bird as we are seeking to record normal behaviour that is unaffected by the presence of the device.

Tags are under 3% of the birds body weight. The 3% figure is a benchmark used by most ornithologist when considering the added weight of a tracking device. It is widely agreed that at this level, the tag's impact will be minimal.

Nevertheless we need to be certain that the tag (both its weight and means of attachment) poses no detrimental effect upon the bird. This is understandably hard to measure.

However, we have been able to re-capture three of our tagged birds in subsequent winters - these bird's tags had stopped transmitting, probably as the result of 'battery issues' and so were removed and re-used.

Having a bird in the hand, that had carried the tag for a year or more, allowed us to check for physical signs of wear or damage resulting from the tag. In all cases, there was no evidence of this.

Additionally, the birds were all still healthy weights, similar to those when first caught, indicating that the tag was not impacting upon fitness or the ability to feed.

Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Friday, 10 July 2015

How do we interpret the data we receive?

The satellite tags we use to track our woodcock provide us with data every three days, with the information presented in tables like the one below:


The columns highlighted in red show the information required to build a ‘flight map’ on Google Maps, such as the one on the Woodcock Watch website.

'Program' is the unique program number that our project has been allocated and ‘PTT' is the identification number for each bird’s satellite tag.

'Location class' provides an indication of the accuracy of the data. A number denotes a position which is accurate to within 1km and a letter indicates a margin of error too large to display on the map.



All the data we receive from these files is automatically processed by a computer program every 24 hours. As new files are received the program scans them for the appropriate location data so the map you see on the Woodcock Watch website is updated accordingly.

Simple!

Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Latest woodcock locations

Our birds appear to have mostly settled at their breeding grounds now with no major movements recorded recently. New data received from Garth on the 10th June however indicates she is still making her way toward the Russian border with Kazakhstan.


Latest location data


 
Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

How do we catch and tag woodcock?

Before fitting woodcock with satellite tracking tags we first need to catch them. This is done by dazzling them with a spot-lamp on fields at night and using mist-nets across woodland rides to catch them leaving or returning to woodland at dusk or dawn.


Unfortunately for us, dark, windy nights are best for catching woodcock, usually around the time of the new moon.

Once we have captured each bird we measure them and attach a small numbered metal leg ring provided by the BTO. Catching and ringing requires training and practice and therefore our work is performed under license.

After ringing each bird we then fit a satellite tag and geolocator to the lower back with an elasticated leg-loop harness. Hypo-allergenic tubing is then applied in order to prevent abrasion or discomfort. The tagging process takes between 3 and 4 minutes and the birds are then released from their capture location.

Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

5 things we’ve learnt from our woodcock satellite research

With satellite technology improving all the time we've been able to conduct our woodcock research over the last three years by attaching small satellite tags to each of our birds.

The information provided by the tags has provided some fascinating insights including the following:

1. Departure times are typically mid-March to early April from winter sites and late September to late October from breeding sites.

2. There is a mixing of migrants at wintering sites – birds tagged at the same winter site often flew to different breeding locations.

3. Some birds fly extraordinary distances – three birds have travelled distances of 6,180-7,100km (3,860-4,440 miles) to breeding sites in Siberia. One male, tagged as an adult in 2012, is estimated to have flown at least 38,000km (23,750 miles) during his lifetime!

4. Journey times to reach breeding sites can vary from three weeks (northern Norway) to eight weeks (central Russia).

5. Evidence from a few of our woodcock followed for more than one year indicate they use exactly the same winter and breeding sites each year.

Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Thursday, 28 May 2015

The tags we use are solar powered - and look where Nellie is!

As you probably know, the satellite tags attached to each of our woodcock are solar powered which is why we sometimes go weeks without hearing from certain birds, depending upon their location.

It is therefore quite amusing to note that Nellie is currently in the Norwegian town of Rjukan, located in a valley where three giant mountainside mirrors are used to reflect natural sunlight on to residents in the winter months. Read more about the mirrors here.



Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Latest location data for our tagged woodcock

The springtime weather across Europe has enabled us to receive a steady stream of location data from our tagged birds, even if the level of movement has dropped overall. As the map below shows, Garth is still out on her own, currently heading for the Russian border with Kazakhstan.


Latest location data


 
Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Garth, Pinks, Penning, Hugh, Smithy & Olwen leading way through Russia

With 11 of our woodcock now having made it to Russia, Garth continues to steam ahead. She's taken a more easterly route than the others, south of Moscow and has clocked up nearly 6,000km. The map below shows the locations of the other birds currently in Russia:



This table shows current location data for each of our Woodcock Watch birds:

 
Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

European sunshine leading to regular Woodcock Watch updates

The spring sunshine across Europe means our birds are currently relaying a plethora of location data on a daily basis, their current locations are shown on the map below (except Garth -she's flown so far in to Russia she won't fit on the screengrab!)


This year we have several birds who have headed north-east into Scandinavia including City who has travelled less than 1,000k from Scotland to Denmark. After dropping off the radar in February and recently reappearing in Belarus, Hugh has now made it well into Russia

Our birds in Scndinavia - Soval, City, Doc, Ruan and Knepp

The table below show current location data for each bird:

 
Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Major movements recorded by our tagged woodcock

The last few days have seen a flurry of activity from our satellite-tagged woodcock. As you can see from the map below, many have travelled east and several have already reached Russia:


Most interestingly Garth has unexpectedly resurfaced in an unusually southern location in Russia. Is she lost or is she heading far out east?


City has flown east to Denmark - could (s)he be our first Danish migrant?

After a long silence Soval sent 3 updates on 11th April from three very different places in Sweden.

The table below show current location data for each bird:

 
Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A closer look at the veterans

Eight of the woodcock we are tracking this year were caught and tagged prior to 2015 – either in spring 2013 or spring 2014. This means we are currently following their outward migration for the second or third time.

Irena's journey
Three of these birds are already at the breeding sites they visited last year. These are:

Irina – who has travelled from Ireland to the exact same site in Norway in spring 2014 and 2015.

Wensum – who was tagged in Norfolk in spring 2013. Wensum has wintered in Germany the past two winters and has returned to the same wood in Finland each year.

St. Brendan – who flew from Ireland to Latvia in 2014 and 2015.

Unsurprisingly these three, who have already finished their migrations, are those who travel the shortest distances.

Knepp and Olwen are both pretty close to the breeding sites they have used in previous years (Finland and Russia respectively) and appear to be heading in the right direction. Nastasia also appears to be plotting the correct course but still has 500 or so km left to travel before she reaches her Russian breeding grounds.

Remy has not transmitted data for some time so we are unsure of her exact whereabouts. Assuming she is a) still alive and b) returning to the same breeding site she ought to be en route to eastern Latvia. The last we heard she was in Belgium, but that was on the 22nd March.

The final bird is Monkey III. Monkey III should be heading towards Western Russia by now. Last year he/she had arrived on his/her breeding site by 30th April. This year, however, Monkey III has not yet left the UK and is still sending regular and accurate data from Hampshire. This seems very strange – we didn’t expect birds to ‘opt out’ of migration! Either Monkey III is leaving it very late to leave or there is something wrong with him/her.

Whilst Monkey III appears to be alive and moving around on a regular basis, there may be an issue that is preventing him/her from achieving the condition required to migrate – perhaps the result of a parasite, illness or old injury.

Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Monday, 13 April 2015

Doc heads north to Sweden

Last week, via our Woodcock Watch Twitter feed, we asked this question: “DOC waits beside the Kalmar strait. Will the next move be northward, further into Sweden or across the Baltic?”

Doc has answered over the weekend by travelling 300km north. (S)he is still in Sweden, and if remaining there to breed this year, Doc will be only our fifth Swedish bird since the Woodcock Watch project began.


We expected a large proportion of Britain’s wintering woodcock to hail from Fenno-Scandia but up until this year, only 9 birds have (3 from Norway, 4 from Sweden, 2 from Finland). That is around a quarter of the birds we have tagged. Obviously this is still a significant proportion, but it is not as many as predicted by our isotope analysis, which estimated 39% of wintering birds would have Finnish or Scandinavian roots.

Perhaps this is because a large number of our satellite-tagged birds have been caught in Cornwall and Southern England? Scandinavian migrants may be more likely to winter in Scotland and Ireland – this relationship appeared to be supported by our isotope work. Full analysis of our satellite-tracking data will tease out these finer details. Click here for more details on the stable-isotope analysis.

Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Olwen's route to Russia

Here on the Woodcock Watch blog we’re always talking about ‘site fidelity’ and ‘faithfulness’ and how woodcock appear to be incredibly loyal to particular wintering and breeding sites. But as with anything, there are always one or two individuals that choose to go against the grain.

Olwen was tagged in Wales in March 2013 and proceeded to migrate to Russia that spring. Olwen returned to spend the winter of 2013/14 in the UK, but instead of heading back to Wales as expected, (s)he spent the whole winter in Yorkshire. In the winter of 2014/15, Olwen switched again and chose a site in Lincolnshire. This is at complete odds to the majority of our other woodcock, who usually return to spend winter at the same site year-on-year.

Olwen has recently left the UK and is heading out on a third spring migration. Whilst Olwen may not be particularly faithful to a single wintering site, (s)he does appear to return to the same breeding site each year (a remote piece of wilderness in northwest Russia). What is most interesting though, is the fact that Olwen also appears to use roughly the same route each time.

The map below shows data from three springs – 2013, 2014 and 2015. Each year, Olwen appears to head from the UK, via the Netherlands and Germany, up through Denmark into Sweden. From Sweden, Olwen passes into Latvia or Estonia by crossing over the Baltic. Here, there is usually a pause in progress, before moving on into Russia.

Click map to enlarge
We have other Russian birds that take a different route. Instead of moving up through Denmark and Sweden, they will make the whole migration overland via Poland, Lithuania and/or Belarus. If you look at www.woodcockwatch.com now, you can see this in action with our new 2015 birds.

Whilst Ruan and Izzy appear to be following the likes of Olwen and Wensum along the northern ‘Baltic’ route, Monkey IV and Penning are following the southern ‘Continental’ route.

It’s not clear why these birds choose different courses, but as Olwen’s example demonstrates, each individual seems to use roughly the same route each year.

We are lacking large amounts of data on Olwen’s time in Scandinavia; we only have a cluster of 4 points in Denmark in 2013, and 5 in Sweden in 2014. The reason that the data is so scant is probably because Olwen makes this part of the journey quickly with few stops.

From Latvia, however, we have more data. After making the long Baltic Sea crossing, Olwen seems to spend a bit of time recuperating here. In 2014, particularly, Olwen used a site in Latvia’s Talsi muncipality, the area that makes up the Western coast of the gulf of Riga.

Olwen stayed here between 13th March and 9th April. The data we have received recently, shows Olwen was in the exact same place between 23rd and 28th March 2015 (see inset). Within the last week Olwen has pushed further, and is now on the Latvian/Estonian border on the eastern side of the Gulf of Riga.

Below is a photograph of woodland in the Talsi area of Latvia, where Olwen has made an annual pitstop in both 2014 and 2015:

Photo by Anbien from Panoramio
Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Monkey IV first to reach Russia & other location updates

The Easter weekend saw a flurry of Woodcock Watch activity as a number of our birds continued and in some cases started their journey east.


Doc - now in Germany after leaving Ireland (1358km).

Izzy - has travelled north east from Dorset to Sweden (1317km).

Monkey IV - first to reach Russia after leaving Norfolk (2022km)

Olwen - third migration, now in Latvia after flying from Wales (1678km)

Penning - left Wiltshire and is currently in central Poland (1795km)

Pinks - currently in western Germany after leaving Bath (1259km)

Ruan - in Sweden after flying from Cornwall (1559km)


Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Monkey IV, Wensum and Doc on the move

Another day, another set of Woodcock Watch location updates!


Monkey IV: we've received some great data from Monkey IV over the past few days. Having left Norfolk on 25th March s(he) was in Poland by the 27th and then left Poland on the 28th, crossing the Russian border yesterday.

Wensum: has made the final push from Sweden into Finland over the Baltic. She's now close to the summering area she used last year. Great progress.

Doc: was tagged in Southern Ireland this spring and left on the 28th March over Ardmore Bay, Co. Waterford. By the 31st s(he) was in Lower Saxony, Germany.

Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

2015 Woodcock Ringing Round-Up

Chris Heward with woodcock
by Chris Heward

Ringing is one of the most basic, yet most useful, tools available to ornithologists. By ringing woodcock we’re able to ‘mark’ each bird with a unique ID number and then recognise that individual every time we recapture it.

Over time, this gives an insight into each bird’s movements, survival and changes in condition. We can relate an individual’s fitness at a specific time to the season and the weather as well its size, age and sex.

Obtaining data this way can take time. Between us, Andrew Hoodless and I have spent a total 58 of nights in the field this winter, but it has been worth it as we have managed to ring 311 new woodcock.

Over the past couple of weeks we have ringed woodcock all over the country, in Scotland, Northern England, Norfolk and Cornwall, whilst deploying the 2015 satellite-tags and geolocators.

Andrew Hoodless with woodcock
Generally, however, our everyday ringing that runs throughout the winter takes place at just one particular estate. In order to make the most of ringing, we need a large proportion of the local population marked and we must spend a lot of time and effort trying to recapture those birds.

As a result, we chose to focus ringing efforts on one well-covered site.

Between mid-November and mid-March, we have spent a combined total of 32 nights covering this particular site and have caught 147 new woodcock. On top of this, we have already managed to recapture 33 ringed woodcock including three that we ringed in the winter of 2012/13, three from 2001/12 and one from 2010/11.

We have put new rings on more birds this winter than in any previous year so we are expecting to obtain even better recapture data next winter.

But for now, the season is coming to a close. The numbers of woodcock are starting to dwindle as most of the migrants have left. It won’t be long until only our few resident birds remain. We can hang up our lamps and nets until they are back with us next winter.

Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Monday, 30 March 2015

Location update for Wensum, Penning and Monkey IV

We've received a number of location updates over the weekend:

Wensum, who was caught in Norfolk in 2013, normally winters in Germany and summers in Finland. This weekend she's flown Germany to Sweden.

Monkey IV is the latest bird to leave the UK. Tagged in Norfolk this winter, (s)he has made it as far as northern Poland.

Penning is in central Poland having been tagged in Wiltshire at the end of February.


Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Introducing our new Woodcock for 2015

by Chris Heward

It is beginning to look like spring has arrived and so it is with great pleasure (and relief) that we are finally able to introduce the new 2015 batch of satellite-tagged woodcock.


The Woodcock Watch team have been busy throughout February and March catching and satellite-tagging new birds across the UK.

Up on Islay, we have City, Central and Soval, in County Durham, Ariel and in Lancashire, Hugh.

Across in Norfolk there are three new birds, Woody III, Monkey IV and Nellie.

In southern England, we have Pinks in Somerset; Penning and Fonthill Abbie in Wiltshire; Izzie in Dorset; and Ruan in Cornwall.

We have two Welsh woodcock, named Malt and Garth, thanks to the efforts of our long-time collaborator Owen Williams of the Woodcock Network.

As well as these new birds, we have nine woodcock, tagged in previous years, returning for another spring migration. These are Knepp, Wensum, BFC, Remy, Olwen, Quill, Monkey III, Irina and Nastasia.

Knepp and Remy have both started their migrations. Knepp is nearly back on the breeding grounds; (s)he left Sussex on the 7th March and was back in western Finland by the 16th. Now (s)he has just 350km of a 2700km migration left to go (assuming (s)he will return to the same site as last year – this remains to be seen).

Several of the new birds are now following Knepp’s lead though they have only made small starts on their spring migrations. In the past five days, Ruan has made the leap from Cornwall across to Belgium, and Penning and Woody III have both got as far as Germany.

At the moment, most of the UK is experiencing light west and south-westerly winds. Surely this tailwind will encourage the rest of the woodcock to leave? We’re expecting to see the majority of our tagged woodcock departing for Europe sometime soon.

We’d like to thank all of the sponsors and landowners who have made the satellite-tagging possible this year and allowed us to continue this project into 2015!

Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Knepp first woodcock to begin migration in 2015

Data received this weekend shows Knepp to be the first of our woodcock to migrate. Over the past couple of days (s)he has travelled from his/her wintering site at Knepp Castle in Sussex to western Latvia. This is a journey of around 1600 km.


Knepp spent last spring and summer in Finland. From Sussex, (s)he followed a route that took him/her through Germany and Poland, up through Latvia and Russia, and finally across the Gulf of Finland not far from St. Petersburg. (S)he arrived at his/her breeding site on the 10th April. Knepp’s latest location from Latvia suggests that (s)he is taking a similar route this year.

Last year, Knepp made a migratory pit-stop in the woodland beside Lake Peipus. This huge lake is the fifth largest in Europe and forms part of the border between Estonia and Russia. Knepp rested at this site for over a week last year. We are very interested to see whether (s)he will call in at the same stopover site in 2015.

Knepp was tagged in spring 2014 and survived the 2014 breeding season and following winter. Now we are able to follow him/her into a second year. Knepp will soon be joined on our website by a new batch of 2015 tags. The new tags have been deployed across the UK and Ireland and final arrangements are being made to get their profiles online. We are hoping this should be done for tomorrow.

Whilst they are not yet visible on the website, we have been able to check the progress of the 2015 woodcock. None of the new birds have left the UK yet but with Knepp already in Latvia we are expecting to see some of them departing soon. We are hoping to get them online before this happens; keep an eye on the Woodcock Watch website or twitter page for further updates of our new woodcock!

Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Thursday, 12 March 2015

More great news - now Nastasia and Quill have reappeared

Following the recent reappearance of Remy we are pleased to report that two more of our tagged woodcock have sent new location data for the first time in months.


Nastasia has returned to South-west Ireland having not sent any data since November when she was in Latvia and Quill is once again sending data from Durham.

Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Remy returns

At this time of year we are preparing the Woodcock Watch website for a new batch of birds. The new tags are currently being deployed across the UK and arrangements are being made to get the class of 2015 online before the spring migration starts. This task also involves assessing the activity of the current birds and removing those that are missing or dead.

One such bird, removed last week, was Remy. Remy last transmitted from Latvia back in October, and after nearly five months of silence, we assumed that that was the last we would ever hear from her. Until yesterday, when out of the blue, Remy got in touch with us in the form of a single transmission from Scotland. She has now been reinstated on the website. This new location shows her very close to her tagging location in the Highlands.

We are always hopeful that will see one or two of these miraculous resurrections; in most winter there are usually a couple of birds that manage to do this. Remy’s tag must have lost charge during the winter when days were short and sunlight intensity low.

Now, with spring fast approaching, the tags are receiving more light, their solar-powered batteries are recharging and for the first time in months they are able to transmit. Let’s just hope that Remy’s battery stays well-charged and that we can track her back to Latvia for a third spring.

Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Friday, 13 February 2015

Irina reappears in Ireland

As day length and sunlight intensity increase, our tags now have a better chance to recharge. This can see the revival of tags that have been inactive over the darker, duller winter months. Knepp’s tag did this early last week: after several months of silence it reappeared and is now regularly sending high-quality data.

Today, a second bird, Irina, has done the same. Irina was tagged in County Cork last spring and, unlike her compatriots that visited Western Russia and the Baltic states, she headed north to Norway. Prior to Irina, the only Norwegian birds we had tagged in the British Isles had all been caught in Scotland.


The last time we heard from Irina was 14 July 2014. No further data regarding her whereabouts had been received until the arrival of two new data-points this morning. These show that Irina is back in Co. Cork at a site very close to where she was caught. We do not know how long Irina has been back in Ireland. It is possible that she has been there since the beginning of the winter, but this is the first opportunity her tag has had to transmit.

Although it means we have missed some potential autumn and winter data, Irina’s sudden return is good news. With luck, her tag will remain charged and we will be able to watch Irina make a second outward spring migration. We’re particularly interested to see whether Irina returns to the same breeding site in Norway later this year.

If and when she does, Irina will be joined by a new batch of tagged woodcock. The satellite tags arrived yesterday and are currently being charged, waiting for deployment across the UK in the coming weeks. We’re hoping these birds will go live in March, and join the likes of Irina and Knepp, as we track a fourth spring migration.

Please help us continue our woodcock research
 

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Knepp transmits first data since September - returns home

At this time of year the amount of incoming data is never particularly high. This is always the case during the winter when the short days and low sunlight intensity are unable to keep the solar-powered batteries fully-charged. But there is always the hope, that if the conditions are right for long enough, the inactive tags will find receive enough sunlight to recharge and send new data.


After over five whole months of silence, one tag has managed to do just that. Knepp, a bird caught one year ago in Sussex, has returned new data for the first time since September. This surprising news shows that Knepp successfully completed his/her autumn migration and returned to winter at Knepp Castle; the site where (s)he was caught. This is yet another clear illustration of impeccable site-fidelity. Woodcock which, for the most part, seem loyal to particular breeding sites, wintering sites and stop-overs.

We’re incredibly pleased to receive these new data and we only hope that more tags will follow suit in the coming weeks. However, for those frustrated with the small amount of data being received at the moment – don’t fear. The new tags we’ve ordered are arriving shortly and will be deployed in a fortnight’s time. Once this is done, a new class of 2015 will go online and their spring migrations will be broadcast live from March onwards. Hopefully though, amongst these new birds, there will be one or two returning characters, like Knepp and Olwen, who we can track for a second or third year.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Free woodcock sponsorship for schools

by James Swyer

The GWCT is always keen to promote the importance of game conservation to future generations and in late 2014 we started to offer schools the opportunity to track a woodcock through our Woodcock Watch programme at no cost to them.


Fifteen schools have already signed up to the programme, and have been keenly tracking their bird as it makes its return journey. Interest has been widespread, with schools scattered from Norfolk to Belfast and covering all age ranges from pre-schools all the way up to sixth form colleges. All participants receive a pack including a certificate of sponsorship, factsheet, details of how to track their woodcock and regular email updates about the bird’s location and other relevant GWCT work – all free of charge.

I am delighted with the early feedback and have received telephone calls and emails from teachers telling me that ‘this has brought science to life for our pupils’, ‘it’s generating a lot of excitement’ and ‘my after school club love the fact we are sponsoring a real bird’.


Giving schoolchildren the opportunity to track their own bird as it travels thousands of miles could foster a real passion for our countryside, wildlife or science and we provide a series of lesson plans, produced by the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation Education Trust, to help teachers fit this all in the demands of the National Curriculum. All of these resources (and many more) are freely available to teachers nationwide via the TES website.

By providing information suitable for both Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 (ages 7-14), we are complementing the excellent work undertaken by our advisory department and Katrina Candy and introducing the importance of game management to schools to a younger age group.

I also hope to introduce the initiative to the Scouts and Girlguiding networks to show the value of our countryside and a bird most children would be unaware of.

If you would like more information about how your children’s school can apply for their free sponsorship pack, please contact me at jswyer@gwct.org.uk or call 01425 651021. If you are a teacher, teaching assistant or run an after school club, Scouts or Girl Guides group, please get in touch and I would be happy to send you a sponsorship pack.

Please help us continue our woodcock research


Friday, 16 January 2015

Taking stock whilst catching woodcock

We were out woodcock-catching again this week, adding to our totals at one of our ringing sites.

Project leader Andrew Hoodless had an impressive session on Monday night with eighteen woodcock caught; ten of which were recaptures. This is what this project is really all about; the investment in ringing is reaped when we recapture previously-ringed birds. Collecting repeated biometric measures from different marked individuals will, over time, improve our understanding of the bird’s movements and changes in condition. It does, however, come at some cost – especially on nights like Monday. The best woodcock-catching weather is wet and windy, which it certainly was, and Andrew ended the night soaked through and freezing cold.

We were out again last night with far less success. There was enough wind, but it was a very clear starlit night, and most of the birds we saw flushed. We managed five between us (mostly Andrew) and this did include one recaptured bird. Frustrated by having missed a lot of birds, I ended the night by catching something other than a woodcock. This obliging stock dove sat nicely, and made an interesting and unusual addition to our night’s total.


Please help us continue our woodcock research