Rob van Bemmelen

In my mind, I can replay the moment I saw my first adult Long-tailed Skua like a film. The bird was gliding effortlessly over the tundra, the elongated tail-feathers slightly wobbling when the bird flapped its wings. It was during my first day on the tundra, on my first visit to Ammarnäs. That year, in 2007, I participated in a Golden Plover pilot study and the long-term breeding bird monitoring of the Raurejaure area. That year, we caught several Long-tailed Skuas on the nest, included an individual that was already ringed in 1997 and that I have been following since. In the following years, I returned to Ammarnäs mainly to help in a variety of surveys. From 2009 onwards, I focused on Long-tailed Skuas, studying the occurrence of prospecting immatures, starting a colour ringing project and equipping adults with geolocators. I am especially interested in where they go when they are not at the breeding grounds in Ammarnäs. Where do they winter, what stopovers do they use, and what routes do they take to get there? Also, I am monitoring several aspects of their breeding biology, including such traits as aggression levels and site tenacity.

In 2013, I started equipping Red-necked Phalaropes with geolocators at Ammarnäs, and hope to retrap them in 2014.

During 2007-2013 I did this fieldwork in my spare time – the rest of the year I was working as an ecologist at IMARES, studying North Sea seabirds and Harbour Porpoises – in particular their distribution and abundance. Since 2014 this is now part of my PhD project funded by NWO. This project will run till 2019.

Birding since I was about 9 years old, I am an avid birder. When birding in The Netherlands I focus on rarity finding and seabirds. I am a member of the Dutch Rarities Committee for some years now, and wrote a various papers for bird magazines such as Dutch Birding (from the Dutch Birding Association) and Sula (from the Netherlands Seabird Group).

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