Last week, the final version of a new paper on Red-necked Phalarope migration appeared online. It is titled ‘First geolocator tracks of Swedish red-necked phalaropes reveal the Scandinavian-Arabian Sea connection’. Read it at the Journal of Avian Biology website, or drop me a line and I’ll send it to you.
Using the first four geolocators that we retrieved in Ammarnäs in 2014, we were able to confirm that these birds migrate all the way down to the Arabian Sea. This south-eastern direction is rather rare amongst European breeding birds. They covered the 6000-7000km in two to four migration leaps, of which the stretch between the Baltic and the Caspian Sea region (approximately 2500km) was covered in a non-stop flight. The autumn stopover in the Caspian Sea region was remarkably long (up to a month), which is more than what would be needed for refuelling to cover the next migration leap, to the Gulf of Oman. Why they stop for such a long time is unclear. Once they arrived in the Arabian Sea, they showed marked mobility, covering the entire wintering area between the southern Red Sea and offshore Pakistan. In the Arabian Sea, monsoon winds drive huge upwelling systems with marked variation in space and time. Possibly, the phalaropes tracked these variations in productivity, trying to be at the richest feeding grounds at the right time. Although the Arabian Sea is one of the most productive areas in the worlds’ ocean, our phalarope tracks represent (as far as we know) the first seabird tracks in this area.
Thanks to all who have helped, in particular Vincent Hin and Tim van der Meer (who helped me in the field in 2013 and 2014, respectively) and Martin Green and Ake Lindström (Lund University)!