New Birds providing valuable information but St. Brendan “the Navigator” still going strong!

St. Brendan with tag attached

Image 1: St. Brendan with tag attached

Eurasian Woodcock Satellite Tagging and Tracking Project: November 2014 Update.

For those of you who are interested and still following this research project you will be aware that despite St. Patrick being “missing in action”, St. Brendan (Image 1) is still going strong and returned to his summer breeding grounds in Latvia in April of this year (Map 1). This being his second “summer” migration since tagged in March 2013.

Also, as you would have been aware, we were fortunate enough to secure funding to tag two more birds in March of this year. The tags were on my desk to the time of writing the last article. Irina (Image 2) and Nastasia (Image 2) were tagged in Co. Cork in March 2014 and as soon as “spring” threatened they were off! (Map 1)

Irina was tagged on the 23rd March and headed for Scandinavia. She settled around Sogerfjord in Norway (around 80kms NNE of Bergen) for the Breeding season where we can only assume she is still residing as we have not received any signals from her for couple of months.

Figure 2: Irina (left) and Nastasia (right)

Figure 2: Irina (left) and Nastasia (right)

Nastasia, on the other hand, is leading the charge. Since being tagged on the 20th March she has been sending back great data and was the first of all the Woodcock tagged in Ireland and the UK to start her 2014 return “winter” migration earlier this month (Map 2). Since leaving Russia, she has spent the last two weeks on the Banks of the Daugava River, near Kegums in Latvia. Maybe she’s stocking up on reserves before she starts the long haul leg of her travels? Amy (tagged in Co. Galway 2013), James, Lanyon and Rocky have also followed suit by recently leaving their respective breeding grounds.

This is a great time to follow the birds on the website as we expect a lot of activity over the next month, provided the tags receive enough light to charge sufficiently to send us the signals of-course! So, for the most up to date information on all the birds see

As with last year’s birds, some great data was received over the summer and autumn months, however as winter approaches we hope to continue receiving data, but for how long is anyone’s guess!!

Map 1: Migration tracks to end of Sept 2014

Map 1: Migration tracks to end of Sept 2014

As winter approaches and the days draw shorter, expectations of the arrival of large numbers of winter migrants is growing. Within the Hunting community, the main “fall” of woodcock (winter migrant arrivals) usually takes place in conjunction with lunar cycles. Many will be on the look-out around the next full moon (22nd Nov) as this is often around the time when large numbers are expected to arrive. It is estimated that in the order of 1,000,000 birds will spend their winter in Ireland and the UK.

Finally, we are hopeful that we will be able to tag two more birds this year. This would be great and it would increase the total number of birds tagged in Ireland to eight. We are also looking into the possibility of longer term more dedicated study/studies on Woodcock in Ireland starting in September of 2015.

Map 2: Migration route of Nastasia (to date)

Map 2: Migration route of Nastasia (to date)

At this point I would like to thank all who have made this project possible, especially our sponsors over the last two years. The work to date has really raised the profile of these amazing birds which have unfortunately last year entered the Bird Atlas red list as a species of conservation concern. There really is no better time than now to be putting resources into studying these elusive birds to ensure their long-term future from both a species and hunting perspective.

We look forwards to, hopefully, progressing this project further in 2015 and hope it is as successful as last year.

For more information on Woodcock please consult the Woodcock Watch website.

Signing off for now,



BEES Woodcock Research Group,
Luke Harman, Barry O’Mahony, Dr John Quinn, Prof. John O’Halloran
School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES),
University College Cork,
Distillery Fields,
North Mall,
Tel: 00353 (0)21 490 4668

Sponsors (2013 and 2014):
Federation of County Cork Gun Clubs
National Association of Regional Game Councils
Mayo Regional Game Council
Monaghan Regional Game Council
Waterford Regional Game Council
Kerry Regional Game Council


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