12 February 2009

Russian and Polish Woodcock abound - not quite a normal week in the Ringing Unit

The BTO scheme gets quite a lot of records of foreign-ringed birds sent in and, every week, part of a Recovery Officer’s job is to send a batch of these records to ringing schemes around the world asking for the original ringing details. There are never very many of these records but are always eagerly anticipated by their finders, whether they be. members of public or BTO ringers.

This morning I was entering a ‘standard’ foreign batch of just eight birds, all ringed abroad and found in the UK. This consisted of two Black Headed Gulls, one from Belgium and the other from the Netherlands, a Snipe, also from the Netherlands, and a Blackbird from Germany. This is not too unusual but this batch also contained a large number of Woodcock, including three wearing Russian rings and one that had been ringed in Poland!

How unusual is this I hear you ask? Well out of 393 foreign-ringed Woodcock found in Britain and Ireland since the start of the Ringing Scheme, only 46 of these were ringed in Russia and there has only ever been one other report of a Polish-ringed Woodcock (which was found in Strathclyde in January 2002) in the UK!

This could be an exceptional cold weather movement or are other factors at play? This will have to be looked into but what we do know is that this batch of records is definitely something quite special.

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