Here’s a little update from Ammarnäs. Skua-wise, it’s been going very well, despite that ploughing through the thick layer of soft snow is tough. Virtually all skua nests contain two reasonably-sized eggs and the birds appear well-motivated to incubate. This probably attributed to the success rate of (re)captures. In only a few days, we (well, mainly Piet and Michiel) have done a tremendous job in recapturing no less than four birds with geolocators. Three of them were geolocators mounted last year, but one special individual, with colour ring code AA, was a true prize-bird! Its geolocator contained almost four years of data! The tracks of the tracked birds showed they all wintered off South Africa, in the Benguela Current. That’s pretty far; they migrate around 40.000 km each year
Individual AA starred in a recently published paper in the Dutch Birding magazine (please drop me a line if you would like to have a PDF). It is a short cautionary note about ageing Long-tailed Skuas, showing that AA retained barred underwing coverts for at least five years (and this year for its sixth year). In the literature, such barred feathers are related to immaturity, but this individual shows that this needs not to be the case. Obviously, this article is really for true bird nerds.
The situation looks much less favourable for the phalaropes: all lakes in Gelmetje are still frozen. Just the day before yesterday a tiny bit of phalarope-habitat thawed. They are all in the delta waiting to get up. We regularly see birds taking off, apparently for inspection flights. Hopefully, they will be able to start breeding soon, because if they don’t, we won’t be able to retrap the individuals with geolocators and we won’t be able to deploy any new loggers!
Meanwhile, I got home and Hans & Daniel just arrived at Slettnes. Hence, more news is expected soon!