Another non-breeding year

An ‘increase year’ was expected for the lemmings and other rodents in Ammarnäs. In such years, rodent populations slowly recover from a crash and build up towards a next peak. At such intermediate rodent densities, Long-tailed Skuas in Ammarnäs usually breed at least in the best area: Raurejaure.

Today we (Morrison Pot and I) crossed the tree line in Ammarnäs for the first time this season. After only about ten minutes the disappointment already sank in: this was going to be another non-breeding year for the Long-tailed Skuas. The second in a row, thereby repeating the pattern of 2012/2013. A pair was sitting quietly, occasionally picking some berries or insects. At this date, one of the partners should be incubating an egg…

The good news is that we resighted several colour-ringed skuas and all were still carrying their geolocators. Two birds have apparently switched partner, meaning two ‘famous’ birds are now missing: KJ, known for its extremely aggressive nest defense, and KM, a bird that we used to see on every visit to Raurejaure, as it bred at the ‘entrance’ of the area.

NR had apparently changed it partner for an unringed bird, which was KM since 2014. Also KR apparently switched partner, as KJ was replaced by an unringed bird.

Another promising observation is that of a male Dunlin carrying a geolocator! Hopefully we will be able to recapture this bird. This bird is part of a big circumpolar effort to track the migrations of all subspecies of Dunlin – there are many!

Dunlin with geolocator taking a nap.

4 thoughts on “Another non-breeding year

  1. Åke Lindström June 10, 2017 / 9:58 am

    Thanks Rob,

    must be tough to have a year of expectations being “crushed” in a single few minutes. On the other hand, very wise of you not to “put all egss in one basket”, i.e. have some parallel exciting projects going on. And to hike up the mountain side, pass the rim, and watch the mountain tundra unfold in front of you, in all its glory, is not too bad either…


  2. paulamachin June 10, 2017 / 11:29 am

    Very good luck retrieving the Dunlin logger, keep us informed!!

  3. Johannes H. June 11, 2017 / 11:06 pm

    Too bad! Is there no sign of breeding in any of the LTS-pairs?
    I sort of was planning 2018 to be the next big lemming-year and convince my family to be there then, but for a peak you need an increase of some kind 😦
    At least the Dunlins do there part…

  4. robvanbemmelen June 15, 2017 / 11:03 pm

    Hi all! Until now, we found not a single breeding Long-tailed Skua. Even the ‘central pair’ of Gelmetje didn’t try! In Björkfjället, they are already forming flocks of up to 45 individuals, including several 3rd calendaryear birds. A great sight!

    The Dunlins only just started breeding; we found the first few nests in Björkfjället (including some yellow flags, but none of the three geolocator birds unfortunately). Will try again for the geolocator Dunlins in Raurejaure tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

    I am also aiming for 2019 Johannes! Would be great to have a Ammarnäs reunion then (including all the skuas…).

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