Twenty-one. That’s the number of recaptured Long-tailed Skuas with geolocators. An extremely good score, especially since nine of these got their geolocator back in 2011. The manufacturer said – back then – that the estimated battery life would be 2-3 years. In at least two instances that was incorrect: these had (almost) four full years of data!! For the other ones, the battery life had ended and therefore we have to get some help from the manufacturers to download the data.
The number of recaptures is especially high when one considers the difficulty in retrapping skuas last year. There is a number of changes, such as the hugely improved remotely controlled snare trap, the fact that I’m not there (…) and the different weather (last year had hot spells, this year has late snow melt), but I think the main difference with last year is the food situation. With the higher rodent densities, more pairs have laid more (mostly two, compared to often only one egg last year) and bigger eggs. This investment – and possibly also a perception that this must be THE year to reproduce (I would totally agree with them!) – may explain the noticeably higher motivation to incubate those shiny big eggs.
Also in Slettnes they had great success in recapturing Arctic Skuas, plus several Red-necked Phalaropes, and good news also came from Tobseda, where (until then) one Red-necked Phalarope and three Arctic Skuas were recaptured. More on that later!