November 26th Update
News from the GWTC satellite tagging woodcock scheme is excellent. Monkey III has returned to Hampshire in the UK, settling 5km from where he/she was originally tagged back in March earlier this year. This familiar wintering site for Monkey III will be her home for the next four months or so before setting off to return to Western Russia where she has spent most of this year.
Several other tagged birds are sitting pretty in Europe, such as Amy and Nastasia, resting before their final hop across the channel to the UK and Ireland. The data is transmitting well so we should have the information as soon as they move on. Only weather or predators would prevent or delay their arrival but, so far, the climate has remained relatively stable without the strong winds predicted that could interfere with their chosen courses. However, reports of cold weather, including snow is due to push into Russia and Scandinavia in early December which will certainly see a larger movement of woodcock towards the west.
It is hard to tell whether woodcock are male or female and can do so only by the length of their bills. Males generally have shorter bills than that of the female with the grey area being where the ranges overlap. Monkey III’s bill measures 72mm which falls within this region, so we are not 100% certain of the sex.
Already we are half way through November and the combination of sightings and information from the recorded data on tagged birds have shown a healthy influx and arrival of woodcock from the East making their laborious journey to Ireland and the UK. With a fresh SSE wind, Orkney saw a sudden arrival of many woodcock, indeed 174 counted in one day. The Facebook page, Woodcock Watch and the GWTC blog is currently publishing regular reports from London, Norfolk and Scottish sightings to Europe.
Monkey III is now recorded in the Netherlands having left Russia, Amy has flown through Belarus on her way back from Russia and is now resting in Lithuania, one step closer to her Ireland start off! Thanks to the excellent electronic tagging data, we have hugely detailed information as to where the birds are resting. Rocky is recorded to be happily resting in a very wooded area in Leipzig, Germany, James in a small silver birch and by pine trees in Kivoli, Estonia while Lanyon is recorded nearby a village in Trzebielino, Poland. Incredibly descriptive through the satellite photos and data received. We wish them well on their onward journeys.
With many woodcock already being ringed and tagged in the UK this November, the future of their survival and protection goes on. An incredible migratory bird that will survive through atrocious weather, predators and huntsmen, the woodcock population is healthy.