Strange season at Slettnes

DSC00715After five days in the field we are more and more puzzled about this season. We had the first Arctic skua chick yesterday, which is extremely early, and many more nests are about to hatch. These birds must have started laying eggs mid May! Also the Fieldfare chicks nesting near the lighthouse are about to fledge and the vegetation is two weeks ahead. At the same time many skua territories of last years are not occupied and in many territories birds are just hanging around. We also still find nests that were just started. The Red Fox is present again and indeed we found two nests predated already.DSC00733

Up to now we recaptured 7 Arctic Skuas and their loggers show the wide variety we are used from them: wintering in south America, South Africa and the Caribbean. The 4 out of 7 that we recaptured last year as well, took remarkably similar routes.

Today was rainy with 6/7 Beaufort, not really weather to catch skuas. Besides we had some troubles with our catching device, the snare. It is quite ingeniously constructed around a remotely controlled vacuum cleaner spring, but now it needed some special technical attention (and a new set of batteries as it turned out later). Nevertheless we went outside to check territories at the outskirts of the area and look for Red-necked Phalarope nests. Tomorrow is going to be sunny and the day after even 15 degrees! Time for a dive in the Barents Sea!

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