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.