12/4/2017

More exciting news from Nellie III

By Chris Heward, Wetlands Research Assistant

Earlier this week I blogged about the surprise departure of Nellie III. Nellie had shown no sign of migratory behaviour and we were starting to suspect that s/he was a British resident. Then, completely out of the blue, Nellie III left the UK, doing so nearly three weeks after the rest of our tagged woodcock.

Nellie IIIsweden

Like all of our tags, Nellie III’s transmitter is active for a 10 hour period, then takes a 48 hour break whilst it recharges. Nellie III’s transmission period came to an end somewhere over the North Sea – approximately 50 km from the coast of the Netherlands. We never saw her make landfall.

In the intervening 48 hours Nellie III was busy. We can only assume s/he arrived in the Netherlands shortly after his/her last transmission and travelled west along the coast into Germany and then Denmark. The next transmission came from Læsø; a ‘Jersey-sized’ Danish island off the north east coast of Jutland. Nellie III was on Læsø for at least half a day, probably taking the chance to rest and feed. 

LæsøPhoto of woods on Læsø taken by  lasse000 and shared on Panoramio

It would be interesting to know just how Nellie came to settle here; was it based on a prior knowledge of the island’s existence or the result of a chance encounter? Nellie III is a juvenile bird making a spring migration for the first time; if s/he’s visited Læsø before it could only have been last autumn on the outward journey, but that may be enough for this safe stop-over to be established as part of his/her migratory routine. 

WoodsPhoto of woods near Vänern taken by Erik Morell and shared on Panoramio

Whatever the answer, Nellie III did not wait here long. Yesterday s/he arrived in Sweden. Nellie first settled in woods besides a lake called ‘Skagern’ but has since shifted westward to a new site closer to ‘Vänern’.  Vänern is a huge lake, the largest in the European Union and over 14 times larger than the UK’s Lough Neagh. The woods around Vänern look like ideal woodcock breeding habitat, but whether or not Nellie chooses to stay here – it’s too soon to tell. 

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