Almost over!

The 2014 field season is almost over! With Tim leaving Ammarnäs, and Morrison, Denise and me leaving Slettnes, only Kees and the Tobseda team are still in the field.

Morrison placed the last of 40 loggers on Arctic Skua in Slettnes. When we arrived, Arctic Skua chicks were fledging en masse, making it a real challenge to tell which juveniles belonged to which adults. We’ll have to do the math yet, but it seems like this was a very good breeding year, as many pairs managed to successfully raise two chicks. Over a hundred chicks have been ringed. The two fluffy Great Skua chicks grew from huge to enormous, see the picture, but were not even near to fledging when we arrived.

Dark (left) and light (right) Arctic Skua siblings.
Dark (left) and light (right) Arctic Skua siblings.

In Slettnes we deployed the last few geolocators on Red-necked Phalaropes. As soon as we saw fledged juveniles, all adult males disappeared, so we were just on time catching the last ones. One of them was obviously a late breeder, having three chicks of only about 2-3 days old. It also had very abraded wings. Kees and others managed to deploy another 10 geolocators in Tobseda, making the total number of deployed loggers 50! In addition, Olivier Gilg placed two more loggers in Greenland. Great stuff! Now we can only wait for next year…

Beside a perfect area to conduct such field studies, Slettnes is a really great place to observe other birds and marine mammals. We had a great time observing Otters, Humpback and Minke Whales, Atlantic White-sided Dolphin and many seabirds, including Manx Shearwater, Black Guillemots and King Eiders. On 26 July, two Sandwich Terns passed overhead. This must be one of the most northerly observations of this species, considering it normally does not reach further north than halfway Norway at about 60 degrees N. Slettnes is at 71 degrees N!

Great Skuas. Two fluffy youngsters.
Great Skuas. Two fluffy youngsters.

Meanwhile, Tim finished the work at Ammarnäs. In total, 6 Long-tailed Skua chicks fledged. One chick made it far but got injured on its wing, presumably by Raven attacks, and will not make it. The Waxwing nest was successful and the chicks have been ringed.

Two dark morph Arctic Skuas, one carrying a geolocator, with the inescapable Slettnes lighthouse in the background.
Two dark morph Arctic Skuas, one carrying a geolocator, with the inescapable Slettnes lighthouse in the background.
Morrison and me extracting the last of the 20 phalaropes from the mist net.
Morrison and me extracting the last of the 20 phalaropes from the mist net.
Mounting a geolocator on a male RN Phalarope. The icecream stick is removed later on and makes sure there is some room left underneath the logger.
Mounting a geolocator on a male RN Phalarope. The icecream stick is removed later on and makes sure there is some room left underneath the logger.
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