Wednesday 26 February 2014 11.33 GMT
Smaller and lighter tracking devices are opening up whole new insights into behaviour, movements and migrations
Today sees the launch of the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science – and one of the most exciting areas of research the centre will be involved in is tracking birds and other animals as they migrate, forage and breed.
Last June, at the edge of a small loch on the island of Fetlar in Shetland,RSPB conservationists and members of the local bird-ringing group caught a red-necked phalarope, a dainty, sparrow-sized wading bird. They had caught it exactly one year earlier at the same nesting site, and fitted it with a small rucksack. This was a geolocator, made by the Swiss Ornithological Institute, an electronic tag that records light levels and the time.