16/3/2018

Wensum returns for a sixth year

WensumBy Chris Heward, Wetlands Research Assistant

After a long period of silence, Wensum has reappeared in Germany at a site just south of Hamburg. We’re used to tags suddenly reappearing like this; their solar-powered batteries mean that they often stop transmitting when the weather is bad and are suddenly revived when it becomes sunny again. What’s interesting in Wensum’s case is just how old she is.

She was first tagged in 2013 and, given she was a juvenile when we caught her, we know that she is now nearly six years old. Each year she migrates to a breeding site in southern Finland. If she completes the same journey this year it will be her sixth time making this trip.

Wensum’s tag is the longest-running that the project has tracked. Despite this, the only record we have of her visiting the UK is in her first year, when we caught her. This is probably because she was caught in cold weather and subsequent winters have been milder, allowing her to remain on the continent for the entire winter. The notable exception was the very cold snap earlier this month. Could she have been back to the UK during her tag’s recent hiatus? Perhaps – but unfortunately there is no way of knowing for certain.

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