Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Latest woodcock locations

Our birds appear to have mostly settled at their breeding grounds now with no major movements recorded recently. New data received from Garth on the 10th June however indicates she is still making her way toward the Russian border with Kazakhstan.

Latest location data

Please help us continue our woodcock research

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

How do we catch and tag woodcock?

Before fitting woodcock with satellite tracking tags we first need to catch them. This is done by dazzling them with a spot-lamp on fields at night and using mist-nets across woodland rides to catch them leaving or returning to woodland at dusk or dawn.

Unfortunately for us, dark, windy nights are best for catching woodcock, usually around the time of the new moon.

Once we have captured each bird we measure them and attach a small numbered metal leg ring provided by the BTO. Catching and ringing requires training and practice and therefore our work is performed under license.

After ringing each bird we then fit a satellite tag and geolocator to the lower back with an elasticated leg-loop harness. Hypo-allergenic tubing is then applied in order to prevent abrasion or discomfort. The tagging process takes between 3 and 4 minutes and the birds are then released from their capture location.

Please help us continue our woodcock research

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

5 things we’ve learnt from our woodcock satellite research

With satellite technology improving all the time we've been able to conduct our woodcock research over the last three years by attaching small satellite tags to each of our birds.

The information provided by the tags has provided some fascinating insights including the following:

1. Departure times are typically mid-March to early April from winter sites and late September to late October from breeding sites.

2. There is a mixing of migrants at wintering sites – birds tagged at the same winter site often flew to different breeding locations.

3. Some birds fly extraordinary distances – three birds have travelled distances of 6,180-7,100km (3,860-4,440 miles) to breeding sites in Siberia. One male, tagged as an adult in 2012, is estimated to have flown at least 38,000km (23,750 miles) during his lifetime!

4. Journey times to reach breeding sites can vary from three weeks (northern Norway) to eight weeks (central Russia).

5. Evidence from a few of our woodcock followed for more than one year indicate they use exactly the same winter and breeding sites each year.

Please help us continue our woodcock research