Friday, 18 November 2011

The Woodcock Network show us the way...

A trip up to Aberystwyth yesterday to learn how to fit geolocators to Woodwork was an all round great learning experience. As we work with The Woodcock Network, it was good to meet Owen Williams, the Director and Dr Andrew Hoodless, Scientific Advisor.
Following a successful trial of geolocators by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust and having secured funding the plan is to fit geo locators on between 35 and 40 woodcock. This effort will be as a part of a wider collaboration between the Woodcock Network, GWCT, and The French Game and Wildlife Department.

Practical experience is obviously the way to learn so out in the field Andrew showed us how to fit the geolocotor.
We were using dummy satellite transmitters which are bigger than Geolocators but the fitting technique around the legs of the Woodcock is the same.
The transmitter sits comfortably and securely on the Woodcocks back and does not interfere with preening or flying.
Enough Woodcock were caught for us all to practice on different birds. All the birds were also ringed and biometrics taken as usual. There is a useful pictorial ageing guide on the Woodcock Network website.
As well as learning this technique, the invaluable part of the evening was the lengthy discussions about the different equipment we all use. Not one net was the same and we have come back with new ideas about lamps and nets and a shopping list! Also it was good to compare the field type and Woodcock habits at sites we use. Could earthworm density and different farming practices be a big factor in Woodcock usage is something that would be interesting to look at in the future.
Thanks to Owen and Andrew for a very enjoyable, educational evening.

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