Satellite Tracking: 2009

Brian Etheridge, Bob Swann and Jacquie Heaton of the Highland Ringing Group caught a small number of curlew at Bunchrew Bay on 31st March 2009.  We had decided that we would fit one of our transmitters to a late migrating individual.  HRG has ringed many curlew over the last several decades on the Moray Firth and the adult curlews which hang on into April are the ones most likely to migrate to Scandinavia.

Photo by Laurie Campbell

Roy Dennis joined them to fit the transmitter to one of the curlews, and it was decided to choose the biggest female – with a wing 308mm, bill 150mm and weight 983 grams. She was released with a second bird and they flew out into the Beauly Firth.

Roy fitting the transmitter

Curlew with the satellite transmitter










Note: please remember these tiny transmitters are not GPS technology.  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.

Many thanks to Scottish Natural Heritage Office in Dingwall for financial support with this project, and to Dr Steve North for guidance.

Annual Movements

A signal on April 21st showed that the curlew had started her Spring migration and was over Norway.  She arrived in Umea, Sweden the next day, then stopped on the Swedish coast for 9-12 days.   She arrived in Finland on May 4th after a migration of 1895km.  She spent the breeding season in an area of farms, woodland and rough grounds near a small river to the east of Ruukki.  She began her autumn migration on July 27th and arrived back in Scotland on July 1st.  By the 5th she was back in the Beauly Firth.

Spring and Autumn migrations 2009: a total distance of at least 3777km

For details of the curlew’s migration click on the following link:    Curlew 2009