Fonthill Abbie II was tagged as a first-year bird in Wiltshire in Spring 2016. S/he* must have hatched in the spring of 2015, meaning Abbie has reached his/her fourth birthday this summer.
Abbie has provided us with spring migration data in each of these four years. The first spring migration we tracked in 2016, was the first that Abbie had ever undertaken, and s/he migrated to a breeding site in western Russia, south-west of St. Petersburg. S/he has made the same journey in every subsequent year and provides us with an interesting opportunity to observe how the migration of the same individual changes from one year to the next.
But this pales in comparison to the true veteran of Woodcock Watch: Wensum. Wensum was caught in Norfolk in Spring 2013. She is by far the longest-transmitting satellite-tagged woodcock of the project. When she was tagged, she was more than a year old (we know this because she did not retain any juvenile plumage) and must therefore be at least eight years old now, possible more. We have watched her make the same 1,300 km migration from Germany to Finland every year since 2014 and yet, despite this, she has never returned to Norfolk!
Wensum has been at her usual Finnish breeding site since 30th March and has transmitted in the last few days (31st Aug) to let us know that she is still alive. Wensum is one of the true heroes of Woodcock Watch, not only for the sheer volume of data she has provided, but for the particularly interesting insight into woodcock migration that she has given us.
*Woodcock are sexed according to certain biometrics (bill length, tail length) but for around half of individuals this cannot be done with certainty.