Breeding starts on the tundra

Snow cover has been reduced to 50% in many parts of the study areas and finally waders seem to start breeding. However, the still high snow cover in some parts force waders to nest on small snow-free patches making it easier for predators to detect them giving rise to a very high predation rate on nests.
Red Fox photographed in Bjorkfjället last season 2011
The high number of predators around make it even more difficult to find nests before they get predated. Large number of Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) tracks and droppings but also the observation of several individuals hanging around the area, Wolverine (Gulo gulo) tracks, the encounter with a Stoat (Mustela erminea) and many of their winter nests found, recognized by the skins and underfur of the rodents they kill, in a no-lemming year like this, make predators have mainly one target: nests!
Rock Ptarmigan on snow
Mainly Golden Plover nests have been found so far but also other species nests aswell. For the first time since we are coming here in 2008, we have found two Ptarmigan nests, one of a Willow Ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus) and another of a Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus muta). We have seen many individuals around in previous years in the study areas and also chicks but never found a nest before!
Rock Ptarmigan nest with 7 eggs
Also Temminck´s stint (Calidris temminckii), Redshank (Tringa totanus), Ruff (Philomachus pugnax) and Dunlin (Calidris alpina) nests have been found so far but few with a complete clutch. As soon as snow melt, snow-free patches are progressively used for nesting.
Ruff in flight
Dotterel foraging on a snow-free patch
Dotterels and Ringed Plovers are also seen in the study areas but few nests have been found in previous years. Maybe their anti-predator tactics that use against us for finding their nests also work with other ground-living predators.
Ringed Plover

One thought on “Breeding starts on the tundra

  1. Miguel Ángel Fernández Elipe June 22, 2012 / 12:25 pm

    Stunning images. Godd job.

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