In only a few days, a new field season will kick off. This year, we will work at three sites, covered by 9 people.
Obviously, we’ll be working in the most beautiful mountain tundra in the world: Ammarnäs. For me, this will be my 10th year here. Christian Brinkman, Michiel Elderenbosch and Bram Ubels will join me. Both Christian and Michiel have been to Ammarnäs before, in 2011 and 2015, respectively, but Bram is a first-timer. Regardless, we are all very excited to see what this year will bring. After the high lemming peak in 2015, a lemming-low is expected this year, with consequently no or few breeding Long-tailed Skuas. Therefore, the main focus will be on (re)capturing Red-necked Phalaropes. In addition, we will participate in international collaborations, one focussing on sandpiper nest survival in relation to predation and lemming cycles (led by Olivier Gilg, Univ. de Bourgogne) and another on mapping the migrations of all Dunlin populations around the world (led by Richard Lanctot, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). Thus, even if the skuas skip breeding, there will be a lot to do!
Others will be going to Slettnes, Norway, for the third consecutive year: Ingrid Tulp and Maria van Leeuwe in the first period, followed by Hans Schekkerman and Morrison Pot. Maria will visit the place for the first time. After a very successful season last year, chances of retrieving geolocators from Arctic Skuas are even better this year. Last years’ data shows extremely interesting patterns, with huge differences between individuals. They are using the entire Atlantic Ocean, plus adjacent waters such as the Mediterranean. More about that later. Another aim at Slettnes is to recapture Red-necked Phalaropes and deploy new geolocators.
Last but not least, Jasper Koster will be positioned at Erkuta, which is located at the Yamal peninsula, Russia. Here, Olivier Gilg deployed eight geolocators on Red-necked Phalaropes, and Jasper will try to retrap these birds. He has been very successful in Tobseda last year, with 140 captures – including two recaptures of birds carrying geolocators. Hope he will reach similar heights at Erkuta!