Over the summer of 2007, we conducted a pilot study on Skomer Island to monitor the coming and going of the Manx Shearwaters at a small number of monitored burrows. By attaching RFID tags to the birds' rings, we were able to identify the return of specific individuals to their burrows.
One of the key reasons for conducting the pilot was to assess the potential impact of the sensor network on the birds behaviour. Over the season we compared the behaviour of the birds in the monitored burrows to that of the birds in unmonitored burrows and were very happy to see that the system had no adverse effect on their behaviour.
We were also excited to see the amount of data that could be gathered throughout the project, seeing individual birds returning at specific times and the general fluctuations in activity across the monitored burrows. Recording similar data by hand would require a number of field researchers and considerable expense. This highlights one of the limiting factors in modern ecology and it is this that we hope our system can begin to address.