The old bird returns

After a long drive from the Netherlands, today was my first chance to cross the treeline in search of Long-tailed Skuas. Earlier reports were not hopeful: although there were skuas around, they did not show territorial behaviour. Observations today gave the same picture: only very few birds present, and those that were present were not territorial at all. No alarm calls, nothing. Although they were approachable down to about 15m, they flew really, really far away after flushing. So it seems like it is going to be a non-breeding year, which means that I have to wait another long, long, long year before I get another chance of retrapping the birds with geolocators…

Still, there was something very interesting about the first Long-tailed Skua I saw. The bird was perched on a large rock, located where a ringed bird has been defending its territory in every year since I have been here (2007). Even before that, the bird has probably been occupying this territory for a long time, as it had been ringed in 1997 at exactly the same place. Although I could not read the entire code on the ring, it must have been this old bird, as this is the only one who is wearing its metal ring on its left tarsus… As it was already an adult in 1997, it must now be around 20 years old!

The old skua, which was ringed in 1997 at the same place.

Other goodies today were three Dotterels, four Ptarmigans, a Willow grouse, a Hen Harrier… and a Brown Frog jumping about on the snow!

Chillin’ poikilotherm.
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6 thoughts on “The old bird returns

  1. francisco machin June 11, 2012 / 11:19 pm

    very interesting

  2. Alemachin June 11, 2012 / 11:29 pm

    It is possible to a bird to be 20 years old?!!!!!!

  3. Ugo June 12, 2012 / 12:26 pm

    Hej Rob! I know this bird, jeje! Good luck!

  4. Agnes June 12, 2012 / 1:21 pm

    Nice to have news from you again, Rob! Fingers crossed for at least a few breeding couples – on the other hand – if they don’t – another chance to come up next year B-)

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