By Chris Heward, Wetland Research Assistant
As winter becomes spring, things change for the Woodcock Watch team. Our winter fieldwork comes to a close when we say good-bye to our migrant woodcock and we begin preparing for the upcoming breeding season.
One of the nice things about this time of year is reflecting on our efforts over the winter. Andrew Hoodless and I have spent a lot of time catching and ringing woodcock as part of an ongoing study into woodcock populations throughout winter (see here and here) and it’s nice to know this effort is well spent.
Totting up the numbers
Now that this is over for another year we can tot up the numbers of birds we have caught and re-caught and the amount of data this has provided us. This has been particularly satisfying this year as we have reached new highs in terms of the number of new birds ringed.
At our usual Hampshire study site, where the bulk of this work is conducted, we have managed to ring 183 new birds beating our previous record of 147 which we achieved last year. On top of this we have gathered data from 37 recaptured birds including 26 woodcock first caught in the winter of 2014/15 or earlier.
At our Cornish study site, where we manage two week-long visits each year, we have caught and ringed 125 new birds. Here we recaught 31 ringed birds, 12 of which were first ringed in previous years (including some carrying geolocators.
In total we have made 385 captures consisting of 355 unique woodcock. To do this Andrew and I have spent a combined total of 60 nights in the field this winter.
Let’s hope this effort translates into more interesting recaptures next season.