Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Watch migration from your armchair.

The GWCT Woodcock Watch website is now live and you can follow the journeys of all 12 Woodcock satellite tagged in the UK this winter. The Woodcock Network helped by tagging two in Wales (Rebecca from Crychan and Aderyn from Llanilar), as previously posted on the blog.

The tags are made by Microwave Telemetry Inc. and use the French Argos satellites to plot positions. Data is uploaded to the satellite every third day and so far the accuracy is proving to be very good.

The device uses a small solar array which charges batteries that power the system, however once the bird is back on its breeding grounds and summer foliage prevents charging it is possible that we will loose contact with our bird. This is not critical because the batteries will charge again and the the system will restart once there is sufficient light. The primary purpose of this exercise is to study migration and previous studies in Scotland and Spain have proved successful in yielding accurate information on routes and stop over times of individual birds.

The sample of 12 Woodcock has 6 adults and 6 juveniles, which might show differences in migration strategies. Five of the tags have been placed on birds from one location in Cornwall to see if there is a link between wintering sites and breeding sites.

All the data gathered by these tags and the 40+ geo-locators that have also been fitted to birds this winter will be used by Dr Andrew Hoodless of GWCT for furthering our understanding of this fascinating species.

You can follow all 12 woodcock at http://www.woodcockwatch.com

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