Monday, 11 March 2013

Woodcock Journeys.

It's that time of year again. Only a few more days of ringing left before our wintering woodcock head back east to their breeding grounds in Russia and Scandinavia. With the task of fitting 20 geo-locators and 2 satellite tags to birds I've not seen much evening telly for the past week...... or my wife Sally.

The Woodcock Network has been working with the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust on this joint project for the past 2 years. It was decided that we would fit our geo-locators to retrapped woodcock as these birds show a high level of site fidelity which means there is a greater chance of these birds returning to the site next winter. This maximises the chance of us recovering the devices and download their data.

We have recovered 2 geo-locators from 14 that were fitted over the past 2 years and I am expecting to receive the maps from these any day now, so look out for further posts on Ruffled Feathers.

Satellite Tags.
Last year The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust funded 12 tags which were fitted to woodcock across the UK. I fitted two of these, with the help of Tony Cross and Terence Lambert, to birds on ringing sites in Wales.
The migrations of 11 of these birds (one tag failed) can be seen on

This year a further 12 are being used and last week one was fitted to a bird on a site near Llanilar. We have taken care that these go on strong birds and have set the criteria of wings longer than 200mm and a body weight of over 320gms. Having fitted one to a juvenile the task was on to find an adult of the right size. We had planned that the second would be fitted to bird on one of Tony Cross's ringing sites near Llandrindod Wells. After a long night searching two sites in thick fog we caught 6 woodcock but failed to find an adult big enough. Frustratingly we caught 2 juveniles that were very large and robust.

The following night Terence Lambert and I caught a good sized adult on one of my sites near Lledrod and the tag was fitted.

You can follow the progress of these bird over the next month on the link above which will go live once the migration starts in a few weeks. although there have been issues with low light conditions causing the batteries running flat on over the winter months we derived some fascinating details of last years spring migration and hope to reveal more about woodcock migration this spring.

This map show the track of 'Rebecca' a woodcock tagged by Tony Cross and myself near Llandovery last spring. Having spent the summer in Belarus she returned to the same wintering location. Within the next few weeks she will be leaving for another long journey east.

Take a look at our facebook page for regular posts on all matter to do with woodcock at The Woodcock Network

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