I’ve been out catching Woodcock for the last few winters and as yet I haven’t had any long distance controls but have had returning birds showing site fidelity, as ringers find at other sites. Being out at night (well evening for me) also gives the chance to catch other species and see different behaviour of birds and other mammals.
I concentrate at two different sites with one having a higher diversity of species. This winter has not been that productive due to super moons, clear skies, calm weather, flu etc but things picked up this week. I was out on the fields and caught a couple of woodcock plus a retrap from a month ago. I missed a few more and saw Snipe, Jack Snipe and Common Sandpiper. A Barn Owl calm into my torchlight and hunted around me on a few occasions which was exhilarating. I spotted a couple of Oystercatchers and as I got closer they settled and I noticed a ring on one of the birds. I almost caught them both but made sure I went for the ringed bird. On inspection the ring was very worn, thinned and the gap had opened. I had a feeling it was quite old and that it was best to replace the ring. I measured the wing and released the bird within a couple of minutes. I contact a friend who inputted the ring number into the BTO database and within a few minutes discovered it was ringed on 21/06/1986!
The following day the full details had been submitted and the details of the bird came back. It was ringed by SCAN RG at its regular wader catching site near Abergwyngregin, only 16km away but 32 years (11559 days) prior and it was aged as being in its 3rd year then so it was born in 1983!
According to longevity records online the GB record is 36 years 11 months and Europe-wide is 43 years so at 35 years this bird might yet make it a bit longer. Inspiration for me and others of you ringing low-ish numbers- you just never know what’s out there.