Red-necked Phalarope

The Red-necked Phalarope is a very special small wader: it is very well-adapted for a swimming lifestyle and spends the winter at open sea! The migration of Red-necked Phalaropes have been debated in ornithological literature for a long time. Confusion arose due to the difficulties to distinguish it from Red/Grey Phalaropes (Phalaropus lobatus) in winter at sea, and due to the absence of any ringing recoveries from the wintering areas. We are studying their migration using light-level geolocators, and have been successful in mapping the routes and destination of Scandinavian males.

Phalaropes are also well-known for their reversed sex roles. Females compete for males and – after laying eggs – leave incubation and chick-rearing duties to the male. Therefore, we can trap males at the nest or when they have chicks, but females can only be captured using mistnests.

Female Red-necked Phalarope.
Female Red-necked Phalarope.

Red-necked Phalaropes occur in all tundra areas around Ammarnäs, as long as there is suitable habitat. However, one particular area holds especially high densities: Gelmetje. This small strip of tundra is situated between the Vindelfjällen river valley to the east, and the Marsevaggie valley to the west. In most years, we found around ten nests in Gelmetje. Flocks of females usually gather here before leaving around late June/early July.