By Chris Heward, Wetlands Research Assistant
It’s been a noticeably quiet winter on Woodcock Watch this year. It always tends to be quieter through the winter months, as the batteries on the solar-powered tags struggle to keep their charge during the short winter days, but this year the lack of activity has been exaggerated by the fact that we have fewer birds.
As the project starts to wind down, we are tagging fewer new woodcock each year. Last March, only three new birds were tagged (Nellie III, Phynodderee and Fonthill Abbie III). The other birds shown are those remaining from previous years. These were tagged in 2016, 2015 or in the case of Woodcock Watch veteran, Wensum, 2013. Many of these older tags, or the birds wearing them, will sadly be coming towards the end of their average lifespan and it is therefore not surprising that the number of transmissions is reduced.
Recently, we’ve cleared some of the inactive tags from the map; retaining those that we think might start to transmit again in the spring. Amongst these is Nellie III, a bird that has bucked the general trend and transmitted regularly through January and February. Nellie III was tagged in Norfolk last spring and, following her 2000 km round trip to southern Sweden and back, is now back at Sennowe Park where we caught her last year. This fidelity to a single wintering site is common amongst our tagged birds and a valuable finding of the Woodcock Watch project.
This year, only one new woodcock has been tagged. This bird will be introduced via the Woodcock Watch blog shortly.
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