Although skua-wise Gelmetje may not be the best area, I couldn’t resist visiting that area already on our second day. I felt a huge urge to check whether any of the Red-necked Phalaropes from last year safely returned… In total, I fitted ten males with geolocators. Other studies reported a return rate of 50-60%, so at least some must get back here.
Although I had a look at Gelmetje from several kilometers away, I wasn’t sure about the snow conditions at Gelmetje. Only when the ice on the lakes open up do the phalaropes return. The first lakes we checked were almost entirely covered with ice and snow. At the edge of the big lake, in one of the best patches of phalarope habitat in Gelmetje, had thawed, and there were two pairs of phalaropes swimming and calling softly. In a split second I saw what I hoped for: the thin stalk of a geolocator sticking out of the backfeathers of one of the males! At the other side of the lake Tim found another male with a geolocator – and a female obviously entertaining some family plans… To be continued!