Phalarope count and food in the fridge!

Most of the ponds up on the tundra are still frozen. Species dependent on them are therefore still waiting for them to thaw. Among them are Red-necked Phalaropes. This is a small wader that feeds mostly swimming and winters on the ocean. There is a huge flock of phalaropes feeding (and waiting…) at the lake near the village. Today we counted little over 300 individuals! Arctic Terns were surface dipping between them. What would they be feeding on?

Arctic Tern on the ice

Up on the tundra, small arthropods start to emerge. While the snow cover is still around 80% in some parts of the study area, mainly rove beetles (Staphylinidae) increasingly are seen on the snow following air channels created by penetrating shrubs to forage on microarthropods, such as springtails (Collembola) and mites (Acari). These tiny creatures climb from the ground upwards, through little pores of the snow cristals. Higher up in the food web, waders feed on these tiny invertebrates. Maybe birds with longer bills have an advantage finding food at an early stage on the tundra where most parts are cover by snow or ice layers, probing the snow with their bill to catch the hidden invertebrates.

Temminck´s stint foraging on the snow

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