New CR-Golden Plover resighting in Denmark


Last 4th of May, Kim Fischer notified us of the presence of a colour-ringed Golden Plover in Fanoe beach, Denmark. And it is indeed one of our Ammarnäs birds from the project on the ecology of breeding waders in northen Sweden!


Golden Plover Yfl/WL;W/m resighted in Fanoe Beach, Denmark. Photos by Kim Fischer
The bird was first caught and colour-ringed as a 3+ male in Raurejaure area on 28/06/2011 on its nest, when it was placed a geologger on its leg (attached to a c-ring) to get data on its movements during the non-breeding season. Two years later (2013) it was retrapped again on its nest on 27/06/2013 when the logger was retreived and got two years of data.
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Location where the bird was observed in Denmark. Kim Fischer
Interestingly this bird is the principal character of our lattest article published in the Journal of Avian Biology in 2015 with two years of geolocator data.
In the figure below, this bird is referred to as 1a (for movements in 2011-2012) and 1b (for movements in 2012-2013). Interestingly, in both years the bird used the same stopover area in Denmark, where actually three other tracked birds made one stopover. Therefore this stopover site must be a very important area during both the south and northbound migration.
Migration routes of Golden Plovers deployed with geolocators.
Migration routes of Golden Plovers deployed with geolocators.



Recent publication on Cold spell-induced winter movements in Golden Plovers

We have recently published the paper “Individual migration patterns of Eurasian golden plovers Pluvialis apricaria breeding in Swedish Lapland; examples of cold spell-induced winter movements”.

Read the complete article in Journal of Avian Biology  or ask for a copy to

JAB Golden Plover

As you all may remember, in 2011 we placed geolocators on golden plovers in our study area located in Ammarnäs and retreived few of them in the subsequent seasons. Now we have published the data of their whereabouts with interesting results.

Although it was already known about the cold spell-induced winter movements on golden plovers, our study provides some first individual tracking data on this type of movements.  In three cases the plovers spent the winter in NW Europe and in four cases they departed during winter from NW Europe to spend the rest of the winter in Iberia or Morocco (one bird that was tracked during two subsequent migration cycles moved to Iberia in the first winter but remained in NW Europe during the second winter).

Migration routes of Golden Plovers deployed with geolocators.
Migration routes of Golden Plovers deployed with geolocators. Picture of Golden Plover by Ugo Mellone/


The four winter departures were associated with a cold spell in NW Europe during which maximum temperatures dropped to freezing. Cold spell-induced winter movements were notably long and fast. The birds that remained at their NW European wintering site did not experience such cold spell. However, the plovers did not always move in response to freezing temperatures, as demonstrated by the individual that was tracked for a second season, when it experienced four cold spells at its wintering site in NW France without leaving. Little information was obtained about spring migration, but one bird had a prominent counter-clockwise loop migration pattern through E Europe. Due to their cold spell winter movements, golden plovers exhibit great flexibility in migration patterns, resulting in a notably large spread in final wintering areas.


Golden is the colour of autumn

We all know how challenging is searching colour-ring birds. During the non-breeding season, Golden Plovers gather in flocks, sometimes hundreds of individuals huddled in enormous fields while roosting. Very often the vegetation or water obscures the legs of the birds making it very difficult to find colour-marked individuals. However, thanks to the keen observers who spend lot of time out in the field looking for colour-ringed birds, some of the birds we monitored during the breeding season in northern Sweden are spotted in the non-breeding season along their migratory routes or wintering sites.

During this non-breeding season, so far, two of our Goldies have been discovered. The first observation came from The Netherlands, thanks to Thijs Fijen and Mardik Leopold who reported a colour-ringed bird on the 3rd and the 18th of September respectively, in Mokbaai, Texel. This bird was caught on the nest and ringed on 12 July 2013 in Raurejaure, west of Ammarnäs.  We did not see the bird on the breeding grounds this season, so it is good to know that it is still alive!

Yfj/YW;Y/m at Mokbaai, Texel. Picture by Thijs Fijen
Yfl/YW;Y/m preening at Mokbaai, Texel. Picture by Mardik Leopold

Early this month, on the 4th of November, another bird was seen in UK, just at the same spot where it was seen in the winter 2011-2012, at the Cley Marshes Reserve, Norfolk, England.  Another sign of how site faithful these birds are, also during other parts of the year apart from the breeding season!. Last time it was observed had a geolocator attached on its leg (see picture below). In the breeding season 2012 we succeeded in retrieving the logger and get the data stored to be able to draw its movements on the map.

Colour-ringed Golden Plover with a geolocator attached. Picture by Pat Wileman
Colour-ringed Golden Plover with a geolocator attached. Picture by Pat Wileman


We are currently working on a paper about some aspects on the migration patterns of this breeding population thanks to the help of this plover and others carrying a logger for a year on its leg. Hope we can publish it soon and it is of your interest.

Thanks a lot to all observers who spend lot of time out in the field and report their sightings!

Yellow ring generation

The first Golden plover chicks have finally hatched in the area..! After hatching they will leave the nest a few hours later and start wander around feeding by themselves. Being protected and brooded by both adults, the female will eventually leave them after two or three weeks but the male will stay with them until fledging, a month later.

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Newly hatched Golden Plover chicks still in the nest

Yellow is coming into fashion this summer..! As you may remember, in 2011 we colour-ringed Golden Plover chicks with green rings. This season we will use yellow rings instead to keep track on them to study survival and natal dispersion in the next years. Additionally, we will radio-track one chick of each brood during the whole pre-fledging period.

You can watch a video here

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Golden plover chick with radio-transmitter attached

Colour-ringed Golden Plover resighted in The Netherlands

Large meadows, fallow lands and stubble fields in The Netherlands are of great importance for the European Golden Plover, providing them with food along their migratory route in their non-breeding season that help to recover fuel deposits and complete the moult they started some months ago in the breeding grounds. Some will spend just some days and migrate further south to France, Spain or north of Africa, but others will probably stay the whole winter at these latitudes or move to Great Britain in search of milder temperatures if the weather gets severe in continental Europe.

Colour-ringed Golden Plover resighted in Wieringen (north of Holland)

Almost two months after the last post, when the first Golden Plover chicks started to hatch in our study area, we get the first resighting of a Golden Plover outside the breeding grounds after the field season 2012. This is one of the 30 birds we supplied with light-loggers in 2011. Due to the late spring and high predation pressure in the area this season, we could finally retreive just four of them, but we will try to get more next summer 2013!

We are very grateful to Fred Visscher for his resighting on the 13th of September and the picture he sent us. Thanks to these observations and the light-logger data, we will get more knowledge about how the birds conduct their migratory movements during the year.

Goldies mark the end of the season

With the longest incubation period of all waders we study, Golden Plover chicks, after around 28 days, finally hatched!

Luck so far has been dismal with hatching, but still will be some survivors of this breeding season 2012, but not enough to do telemetry with them this year. After around 30 days living on the tundra feeding on small arthropods and berries, Golden Plover chicks will be probably also the last ones to fledge and depart from the breeding grounds.

Golden Plover chicks newly hatched

During the first days after hatching, adult waders will brood their Young until they can thermoregulate. In the case of Golden Plovers, both the male and the female share these task, but after around two-three weeks just males will protect and stay together will the chicks until fledging.

This year we were very lucky to observe brooding waders and we would like to share it with you here.


Today, Paula and Juan are going back home. Johannes and Dafne will stay 10 days more to monitor the last few active nests that remain.

It has been a very challenging field work season where we have faced the incredibly variable tundra ecosystem.  Thanks all of you for following the blog and your encourage comments. We will see us back next year hoping for a better breeding season 2013!


Colour-marked Dunling male alarming

First logger in the hand!

After one month of intense field work looking for Golden plover nests of individuals with geolocator, we finally got the first one back..!

Watch the video here!

Light-logger attached to a colour-ring

This tiny unit has been attached to a colour-ring of the bird for a year and will give us information about migration patterns in the non-breeding season.

Due most probably to the late snow melt, fewer waders finally seem to breed this year in Raurejaure area making it more difficult to find nests of colour-ringed Golden Plovers with light-loggers. The ones that decided to breed have a very high predation rate on their nests forcing us to find them before they get predated and have the chance of retrapping to retrieve the valuable logger.

This has become a true race between predators and us, who will finally win..?

A summer “night” on the tundra