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Scolopax rusticola without frontiers

Jul 9, 2018

The Eurasian woodcock, Scolopax rusticola, is a very special bird as it is crepuscular. During the day, it rests in places where there is not much light.  Thus, this species was not very well known before the first tracking – in 2006, as before that the lightest Argos PPT was 18 g, twice too heavy for a bird around 300 to 350 g.

Questions were numerous: What is(are) the real path(s) of Eurasian woodcocks? How long are they flying from the beginning up to their arrival locations? How fast are they flying? Are the Ural Mountains really their destination?…

Track of an Eurasian woodcock (credit Joseba Felix Tobar-Arbulu)

Track of an Eurasian woodcock (credit Joseba Felix Tobar-Arbulu)

From 2004 onwards, Argos PPTs were made weighing 12 g and soon less (the smallest one is currently 2 g), with solar panels to give them power. This has enabled the tracking of birds as small as the Eurasian woodcock, to the greatest satisfaction and pleasure of people interested by this species, who designed a special harness to attach the Argos PTT to the bird.  With the financial help of different institutions (Government of Navarre, of Catalonia, of Bizkaia, of Majorca, … some banks), of the Argos team, plus many people (hunters, field people, …) who helped to locate the birds in many different places around the whole Spanish state, from Galicia to Catalonia, from Andalusia to the Basque Country, so much more of this bird’s behavior is now known.

And as usual, when some of those questions were solved by the tracking, new questions came with the first results, and the study went on, and was also made in other countries — Russia, Scotland, Italy, England, and even the USA for another species, the Scolopax minor.


Joseba Felix Tobar-Arbulu (PhD in Engineering, Prof. of the University of the Basque Country)

(Members of the CCB team: Miguel Minondo, Felipe Diez, Zarbo Ibarrola, Izaskun Ajuriagerra, Rubén Ibáñez, Ibon Telletxea and Joseba Felix Tobar-Arbulu)