Tuesday, 29 January 2013
News came in yesterday of a ringed woodcock (EX28486) that had been shot only a field away from where it was originally ringed last winter at a site adjacent to the Cleddau Estuary. Site fidelity between winters is not unusual and we have plenty of examples of woodcock recaptured at the same spot as they were ringed in a previous winter, in some cases within a few metres. However in this case initial panic set in because the bird should have been wearing one of the geolocators fitted last winter, and it was feared that the bird must have somehow managed to lose its tag. A few phone calls later and Mike managed to confirm that the geolocator was still on the woodcock (which had not yet been prepared for the table) and it simply hadn't been noticed. So in this case, in due course we will hopefully be able to tell where EX28486 spent the summer. Thanks Mike!
Geolocators are fitted to the bird in such a way as to cause no discomfort using a specially designed harness. Unlike the more expensive GPS tags they cannot transmit positions, but instead record daylight and time. From these data approximate positions can be subsequently calculated but only if the tag can be recovered.
Friday, 25 January 2013
Despite the very infrequent blog posts, the winter’s ringing activities have been going well and In particular, the long-term study of the nocturnal use of farmland by waders has picked up speed with the addition of a new and highly accomplished recruit - Paul – who has joined the steadily increasing number of individuals in Wales who no longer think the telly is adequate entertainment on a cold and wet winters evening, and instead take to the fields to record and ring birds.
|Paul ringing a woodcock (photo - Myles Jenks)|
So far this winter woodcock have been the most frequently encountered species and over 130 have been ringed in the county. Snipe are encountered almost as frequently but only 3 have been ringed and this is entirely due to their wary nature and habit of grouping together in squelchy wet parts of the fields, making close approach nigh on impossible. Golden plover are more approachable and 20 have ringed, but jack snipe have been very thin on the ground with only 2 seen, both of which were associated with a load of jumpy snipe.
|Woodcock roosting in improved pasture (photo - Myles Jenks)|
Ground roosting passerines have included 18 redwings but only 2 fieldfare and a song thrush, a dozen or so meadow pipits and skylarks.
|Only two fieldfares have been ringed this winter (Photo - Jennie Caldwell)|
The recent snow will undoubtedly cause a lot of redistribution of birds and it will be interesting to see how the birds react. Some of the county has been knee deep in snow while much of the coastal strip has still been completely green, so as soon as the full moon passes we will be out there again to see.