Our woodcock appeal centres around a pioneering project that involves tracking woodcock migration paths using satellite tagging technology and this cutting-edge research is enabling us to identify the threats and risks to woodcock from climate change, deforestation, marsh drainage and intensive farming across Europe.
Live research on live migrating woodcock
In February 2012, Andrew Hoodless attached miniature satellite tracking devices to woodcock in Cornwall, Norfolk, west Wales and central Scotland. The signal transmitted by the tagged woodcock is picked up by the Argos satellite network, which is dedicated to environmental tracking projects, and the birds’ positions are relayed via a network of receiving stations to the processing centre at Toulouse and hence to the Trust.
For the first time Trust scientists and supportive members will have a real-time picture of woodcock migration. We will see where they go, how long they stay there and where they finally settle for the summer.
The science gained from live tracking will inform woodcock conservation for years to come. We are now starting to discover:
1. Routes taken between British wintering areas and continental breeding grounds in spring and routes back to wintering areas the following autumn.
2. Details of the timing of departure from different breeding grounds and the total time taken to complete the autumn and spring migrations, including any differences between adults and juveniles.
3. Details of stop-over locations and durations.
4. Fidelity of individual birds to particular migration routes and winter sites.
By tagging more birds in 2014, we aim to get an insight into influences of prevailing weather and if habitat degradation in certain areas affects stop-over locations and migration routes.
Some of our birds have travelled to breeding grounds as far afield as Latvia, Belarus and Russia. Tagged woodcock have also reached Norway, Sweden, Finland, Poland, with three birds making the astonishing 4,360 mile journey to Siberia.
We now know that woodcock migration consists of a series of long, fast flights of 600-1,100km (375-690 miles), broken up by stops en route typically lasting at 7-15 days. Flight speed averages about 30 km/h (19mph), but can reach 93 km/h (58 mph).
We have also learnt that woodcock can be extremely faithful to the same breeding and winter sites each year, with two birds in particular going back to the same sites year-on-year, despite the distances involved.
How you can help - sponsor a woodcock
You can find out more about our Woodcock Watch project and sponsor one of our woodcock at www.woodcockwatch.com.
A small sponsorship of just £36 helps us to monitor a bird’s location throughout the year using satellite technology. Each sponsor can then track their bird’s journey online as it travels up to 7,000 miles throughout the year. Each bird that we are able to track helps provide more essential data to assist in our drive to conserve the woodcock in the UK.
How you can help - giving to the appeal
We also gladly accept donations to the appeal if you would rather not sponsor a woodcock. This is vital work and a small contribution can help generate significant results.
The Trust was the first scientific organisation to use the latest in micro-electronic and satellite technology to track woodcock during the 2012 migration. We are calling on members to help us secure the funding to continue this important and wide-ranging project.
How your contribution helps
£36 enables us to download satellite data once per month
£67 covers the cost of downloading satellite data for a whole month
£153 to fit a satellite tag to one woodcock
£459 scientific monitoring and analysis of data from one woodcock for a whole year
£3,512 covers the cost of buying, fitting a tag and monitoring a woodcock on its epic migration for one year