The fieldwork at Slettnes Fyr has come to an end now. Here a short report to keep you updated on the season. It was quite a different season from last year in which we encountered no predation at all. This year about one third of the Arctic skua nests were predated. We assume the main suspect is the red fox of which there were many in many widespread dens, that managed to raise young successfully.
Also the food situation seemed bleak compared to 2014. There are several indications for that: Arctic terns did not breed, at Arctic skua nests mostly only one of the parents was present, while the other was at sea, most of the chicks disappeared shortly after hatching and we did not see any large sea mammals in the area. Also once caught very few skuas threw up fish. One skua even coughed up an adult passerine. Strangely enough the pair of great skua seemed to do fine with many large fish scattered around the nest. Another unexpected discovery was the fact that at least two of the loggered pairs relaid after predation. If the food situation is so bad that is not a thing to expect. Aggression levels were low, with very little response to us. All in all not a good year for them.
For us it was quite successful, we resighted 28 out of 40 animals ringed last year and retrieved 24 geolocators. The data show an enormous range with equal shares going to West-Africa, South Africa, Venezuala/Brasil and South-Argentina. Three birds did something entirely different: one migrated over land to the mediterranean, one to the Caribean, the other to the Black Sea/Persian Gulf. All in all we managed to catch 54 skuas that got a new geolocator. Amongst these were 15 pairs.
The phalaropes was less of a success story, only 3 recaptures from the 20 loggered last year. We employed 20 new loggers on both males and females.
The team this year consisted of Daniel van Denderen, Hans Schekkerman, Daan LIefhebber and Ingrid Tulp. We received great help again from Cees Tesselaar who lives in Gamvik.