Tagging our first woodcock of 2017

By Chris Heward, Wetlands Research Assistant

Last Thursday I satellite-tagged the first of our new 2017 woodcock. As the satellite-tagging component of our migration study draws to a close, the small number of 2017 birds are likely to be the last tagged by the project.

Thursday’s tag has been sponsored by the Manx Game Preservation Society and as a consequence it was decided that it ought to be deployed on the Isle of Man. My hosts at the MGPS had arranged potential capture site in advance, and knowing little about it or the island in general, I felt some trepidation as to whether birds would be seen or caught.

Woodcock In Hand

Once in the field, however, my worries were allayed, the apparent suitability of the habitat set us in good stead and within just five minutes, we had found our first bird. We catch woodcock at night when they leave woodland to feed on open fields, and in just a couple of hours we had seen 18 birds over 20 or so acres of pasture. We managed to catch six, and tagged the largest of these. 

So far, the majority of our tags have been deployed in Southern England, so another northern bird will balance the sample and complement those already tagged in Northern England and Scotland. But the Isle of Man, in particular, adds another interesting element; will we see this bird returning to the island next winter, and if so, for what reason? Will this bird spend its entire winter there, or simply pass through en-route to wintering grounds in Ireland?

You will be able to learn more about our Isle of Man bird, including the name selected by the MGPS, once its profile is added to our website. This will be done in the next few weeks once all of the 2017 tags have been deployed. Keep an eye on this blog for further news.

I’d like to thank the Manx Game Preservation Society, not only for funding this satellite tag, but for hosting me during my visit and helping co-ordinate the tag’s deployment. We thank the landowner for providing access and to all of those who provided donations at our woodcock talk.

Please help our British woodcock population


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