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