Another exciting field season in Ammarnäs started out with a lot of snow, but also a lot of rodents! This season’s team consists of Johannes Hungar, Piet Admiraal, Michiel Elderenbosch and Tim van der Meer. Coordinator Rob van Bemmelen could only stay for a week unfortunately, and in that week field conditions were not ideal.
The first few days the team got a good impression on what a good breeding season it could be for the Long-tailed Skuas. Several nests were discovered and every day more were added to the list. One of the main aims was to retrap Long-tailed Skuas with geolocators this year. Different birds had different amounts of data “on their legs” and the ones with up to four years were targeted by the team first. First captures were attempted with a snare driven by a vacuum-cleaner mechanism, an ingenious device developed by Rob.
A good year for rodents often coincides with a good year for waders. Johannes and the rest of the team found lots of nests of Golden Plovers, Redshanks and Dunlins. Tim found a Dotterel nest on his first day, and other highlights were 2 Whimbrel nests found by Piet & Michiel, another Dotterel nest and a Broad-billed Sandpiper nest found by Johannes. Several duck, Dunlin, Ruff and Red-necked Phalarope nests have also been found in the study areas. The Dotterel breeding in Gelmetje was safely caught on the nest with a walk-in trap and ringed (see its picture below). In the coming days, some of the wader nests will hatch, whereas others are predicted to hatch around the middle of July, much later than usual.
It seems to be a lesser year for the Red-necked Phalaropes in Gelmetje. Due to the ice and snow-cover, they have started to breed late, and there seem to be less pairs than the usual ten. We have resighted two or three female phalaropes with loggers from last year, and captured one of them (see the picture below). Another ringed bird was caught, and turned out to be a female that should’ve had a logger but lost it! Unfortunately, no males with old loggers have been resighted so far.
Long-tailed Skua nest visits and chick searches resulted in even more nests, and together with observations from Martin Green in nearby areas the highland plateaus surrounding Ammarnäs (Kraipe, Aivesjaive, Raurejaure, Gelmetje & Björkfjellet) contain at least 117 active Long-tailed Skua nests this year! A new record?
Later in the season we used a new spring trap on the nest in Raurejaure, and captured the five last geolocator-birds of this season in one day. Two birds with four years of data were caught totalling up to hopefully 12 years of data collected in captures that day! Only a few individuals have evaded our traps and will hopefully be caught in subsequent breeding seasons. In total 32 Long-tailed Skuas have been caught this year, 21 handed in their geolocator, and 25 of them received new geolocators, whereas some birds are freed of their data collecting duties.
Tim van der Meer, Michiel Elderenbosch & Piet Admiraal