Satellite Tracking: 2009-2010

In 2006, a project on the satellite tracking of bar-tailed godwits was initiated by the Highland Foundation for Wildlife and the Highland Ringing Group, with part funding by Scottish Natural Heritage, to research the migrations of bar-tailed godwits wintering at Whiteness in the Moray Firth, and to learn more about their use of the Firth in winter and of their breeding areas in the Arctic.

Photo by Laurie Campbell

Unfortunately, we were unable to catch suitable godwits to deploy the four tiny 9 gram satellite transmitters over the next two winters.  Numbers and suitable sites are no longer as good as previously.  In March and April 2009, transmitters were finally fitted to  two bar-tailed godwits at Ardersier.

Male Bar-Tailed Godwit (75381)

Initial attempts by The Highland Ringing Group were unsuccessful despite there being 40 godwits and 80 knot flying around in the bay, as well as oystercatchers, curlews and redshanks.  However, on 2nd March we managed to cannon net 11 godwits and 60 oystercatchers.  Most of the godwits were juveniles but we wanted to track adults, so a non-juvenile male was chosen and tagged, despite it still being in winter plumage. The ring number was DD02469 and the satellite transmitter number 75381. It was released with the rest of the godwits and they flew up the Firth towards Castle Stuart.

Note: please remember these tiny transmitters are not GPS technology, but they are solar powered so hopefully will transmit for several years. The data is collected using the old system so fixes are based on classes – with class 3 being accurate to 150 metres, but many can be a few kilometres out. Because of battery size and lack of sunlight in winter, the transmitter is programmed to send data every 4 days.

To view details of the movements of the male godwit click here:    Male godwit 2010


 Female Bar-Tailed Godwit (75383)

The Highland Ringing Group carried out high tide cannon netting on 19th February at Ardersier and at high tide there was a roost of 150 bar-tailed godwits on the beach. But due to the mobile nature of the godwits, there were less than 10 godwits with oystercatchers, turnstones and dunlin, when the net was fired. We caught 4 godwits, two adult males and two juvenile females, and satellite tagged the heaviest female. Later, after dark, she was feeding on Whiteness Sands just before 9pm with a location accurate to 150 metres.

To view detailed movements of the female godwit click here:    Female godwit 2010