Spring migration has begun!

By Chris Heward, GWCT Wetlands Assistant

Fonthill Abbie IIILast week, I predicted that the tagged woodcock would begin their migrations ‘very soon’. In a typical year, spring migration would have begun two weeks ago. This year things have been delayed, probably because of the snowfall in March.

Now, the tagged birds are doing something woodcock very rarely do – behaving as expected! Several of our tagged birds have departed over the Easter weekend and some are making very good progress. We’ll try to provide more detailed blogs on each of our transmitting birds, but for now, here is a summary.

Holkham is the only newly tagged bird this year. She has not yet departed, but her tag is transmitting. Her latest update shows that she was still in Norfolk on 30 March.

Nellie III hasn’t moved either. She was still transmitting from Norfolk on 1 April. She also left very late last year, so this may just be part of her strategy.

Sir John has pushed eastward from his last known location in Germany. He moved from this site near Hannover to the east of the country on 24 March and then crossed into Poland sometime between then and the 29th. This is the latest data shown on the Woodcock Watch map. We have, however, received some less accurate data suggesting he is now in Belarus, close to the Lithuanian border. The map will update to show this once we have received high-quality data from this location.

Monkey IV is in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic coast. S/he arrived here around 31 March. S/he was last recorded in Norfolk on 26 March. The tag sent one intervening fix from Germany, close to the border with the Netherlands, on the 28th.

Fonthill Abbie II

Fonthill Abbie II was missing, so we removed her marker from the map, but the sunshine of last week must have helped her tag’s flat battery recover. She sent us data from Germany on 28 March and then Kaliningrad on 2 April. This is remarkably similar to the journey made by Monkey IV! We can only assume they’re both taking cues from the weather. Abbie is currently not on the Woodcock Watch map, but will be reinstated shortly.


Phynodderee has, like Abbie, unexpectedly reappeared after a long absence. The data she has sent is of a low quality, and may therefore be unreliable, but it proves that she is still alive and the tag is still working. We are hoping for better data to follow and when it does, Phynodderee’s marker will be reinstated on the map. The poor fixes we received showed Phynodderee first over the North Sea and then in Denmark. This suggests that Phynoderee is migrating, which is a little frustrating as it means that we have received no information of her wintering site this year – something that we were particularly interested in as she was caught on the Isle of Man last March.

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at 10:01 on 04/04/2018 by Stephen Morant

Delighted to see Fonthill Abbie has risen from the dead!......it is good to see you doing some active blogging , or whatever you call it, at this time of year when things are happening! Stephen


at 6:09 on 04/04/2018 by CAZENAVE

Congratulations for this excellent blog and many thanks for this accurate and very comprehensive update. I hope to see Phynoddereee on the move again.

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