A recent post on this website, dated 19 September, provided information on only the third ever record of a ringed Curlew moving between Poland and Britain, and gave some details of the excellent Curlew conservation project, currently under way in Poland (see www.ochronakulika.pl). The note also mentioned that this project is marking Curlews on the breeding ground with data loggers, and that, to everyone’s surprise, a number of Polish breeding birds marked in this way have appeared in southeast England, the Channel Islands and in Normandy. One was seen in 2017, and another five (so far) in 2018.
Dominik Krupiński, one of the scientists working on the Polish project has now kindly provided more background information on these birds, which is summarised below. In addition to their metal rings and data loggers, most of the 2018 birds carry a yellow inscribed flag on their leg, making them much easier to pick out and to identify in the field. Dominik points out that the birds are marked not with satellite tags but GPS-GSM-UHF loggers; he notes that more information about their loggers can be found at https://milsar.com/products/gsm-radio-tag-m9.html. This information may be of use for anyone planning to mark Curlews with loggers or satellite tags.
The first bird, metal ring ES 70360 (christened ‘Mux’), was marked as a breeding male, after the second calendar year of life, on 18 May 2017. Its logger revealed that on 21 July 2017 it was at the Blackwater Estuary National Nature Reserve in Essex, then on 31 October 2017 in the Seaton Wetlands in Devon. On 28 March 2018 it was back in Poland, then on the Blackwater Estuary again on 9 June; by 22 October it was once again at Seaton.
Bird number two (named ‘Ola’) bore the metal ring EN 08052 and the yellow flag M76, and was a female of unknown age, ringed at a nest with eggs on 14 May 2018. By 18 June its logger showed it was on Jersey in the Channel Isles, where it was recorded again on 6 and 19 July.
The metal ring on the third unnamed bird was EN 08055 and the yellow flag J55; it was a juvenile ringed in its first calendar year, on 20 July 2018, still nearby in Poland on 6 August, but by 21 August 2018 at the RSPB Medmerry reserve in West Sussex.
Bird number four, ring EN 08048 and flag J48, was also ringed as a juvenile, a male, on 20 July 2018; it was at Auderville in the department of Manche in the Normandy region of northwest France on 19 August, and had moved by 1 September to Alderney in the Channel Isles.
The fifth bird, as yet unbaptised, carried ring EN 08077 and flag M78, and was ringed as a juvenile on 14 July. On 19 September it was at Itchenor in Chichester Harbour in West Sussex.
Finally, ES 073507 (‘Nina’), a female after the second calendar year of life, caught on the nest in Poland on 15 May 2018, had reached West Wick Marina in Essex on 20 July, and was then recorded at Newtown Harbour on the Isle of Wight on 26 July 2018.
Thus, after only three movements between UK and Poland in the first hundred years of ringing, the number has tripled to nine in one year, thanks to the use of loggers. Clearly the use of modern technologies revolutionizes knowledge of Curlews and their migrations. And the very latest news is that from Estonia (from where there has never until now been a single record of a Curlew movement), marked with a logger or satellite tag has recently occurred in UK. Watch this space for further information ……
Map showing movements by Mux: Google Earth map showing movements of Mux
Map showing movements by Ola and Nina: Google Earth map showing movements of Ola and Nina