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

No comments:

Post a Comment