21 Sep 2011

18 September: Steve races down to Lindisfarne

Steve beats them all again. Just as in spring, where he flew almost non-stop to Svalbard, he also made a very fast flight at least from Lofoten down to Lindisfarne. The pictured flight of 1889 km started west of Lofoten at 17 September at 08:00 and ended in Lindisfarne on 18 September at 21:00, thus took 37 hours with an average speed of 51 km/hour

15 Sep 2011

15 September: Ebbe and Loff flying in to United Kingdom

The transmitters batteries obviously benefits from the birds flying south to better insolation regimes, where the solar panels can restore their voltage. Thus the PTTs of Ebbe and Caretaker both began to collect GPS locations when they had migrated south to 63°N. The maps shows their routes over the eastern Atlantic and North Sea where Ebbe settled at Lindisfarne, whereas Caretaker surprisingly flew over Lindisfarne and continued further north to Firth of Forth near the Bay of Leven. Ebbe followed a route near the Norway coast whereas Caretaker followed a route over the open ocean.

13 Sep 2011

12 September: four birds still on Svalbard

Four birds are still located on Svalbard, but now in the southern parts of the archipelago. The upper map shows how Fridtjof who resided on Reinsdyrflya 9 September during 12 September flew south towards Nordenskiöldkysten. The lower map gives the same overall movement for Steve, although he took a slightly different route. Loff is still at Van Mijenfjorden (upper map) and Niels at Edgeøya near Kap Lee (lower map). Maps reproduced with permission from Norwegian Polar Institute using TopoSvalbard

12 September: Caretaker first bird heading south

Our study has over the past few weeks suffered increasingly from depleted batteries, and all transmitters stopped collecting GPS locations. We thus only recieve doppler-data every third day, when the transmitters uplink to the satellites. Fortunately Caretaker flew south over the Barents Sea on such a day, and the upper part of the map shows his flight from Svalbard to Lofoten on 9 September. The lower part shows his further movements on 10-12 September, when the transmitter resumed collecting GPS locations.

3 Sep 2011

3 September: Caretaker jumps to Svalbard

We haven’t been reporting on Caretaker since July due to the fact that he spent all his time, also after moult, on Prinsesse Thyra Ø in Greenland. Like with the other geese we also have problems with low voltages in the PTTs battery, and thus only gets doppler positions every third day. 31 August he was still on his island in Greenland but this morning he had moved east to Svalbard and was located in Van Mijenfjorden on the south slopes of Sundevalltoppen. Map reproduced with permission from Norwegian Polar Institute using TopoSvalbard

23 Aug 2011

23 August: Loff in Van Mijenfjorden

Loff has after his arrivel in Van Mijenfjorden been using several sites around the fjord, primarily along the northern shorelines of the fjord, in contrast to Niels who mainly used the southern parts of the fjord earlier in August. The map shows locations visited over the past week. Map reproduced with permission from Norwegian Polar Institute using TopoSvalbard

23 August: Niels still at Kap Lee

Since his arrival on Edgeøya on 9 August Niels has remained in the vicinity of Kap Lee for two weeks. This map show locations collected over the week from 17 through 22 August. Apart from a few visits to Thomas Smithøyane he generally spends most of his time in the slightly higher parts of the area. Map reproduced with permission from Norwegian Polar Institute using TopoSvalbard

22 August: Ebbe moving south

Ebbes transmitter likewise have started collecting GPS locations after a couple of weeks where we only got dopplers. He spent the period from 16 August until yesterday in the area between Murchisonfjorden and the Vestfonna glacier.The four lower locations give his movements in the morning of 22 August where he gradually moved southeast and then west, with the last location being from Wahlbergøya. Map reproduced with permission from Norwegian Polar Institute using TopoSvalbard

22 August: Fridtjof and Steve both on Reinsdyrflya

Good news from the 19 and 22 August down-loads of data. All five birds with transmitters on Svalbard have improved battery voltage, and all have collected GPS positions over the past few days. For Fridtjof these are the first locations based on GPS rather than the less accurate doppler technology from August. Fridtjof is still on Reinsdyrflya – and Steve has gradually moved north from his moultsite in southernmost Woodfjorden via Bockfjorden and the east coast of Woodfjorden to Reinsdyrflya, where he has been the last two days. Map reproduced with permission from Norwegian Polar Institute using TopoSvalbard

16 Aug 2011

16 August: Ebbe also on the wings

Ebbes transmitter was silent as a grave 2-12 August. 13 August we recieved a single doppler location in the  vicinity of its moult site at Lady Franklinfjorden. Since then he moved south and today 16 August he was located in an area between the Vestfonna glacier and Celsiusberget. The map shows a combination of GPS locations from 1 August and doppler locations from 13-16 August. Map reproduced with permission from Norwegian Polar Institute using TopoSvalbard

15-16 August: Loff moves southwest

Loff gradually moves southwest. 15 August he was at Colesbukta 30 km west of Longyearbyen and today 16 August he had moved south to Bellsund. There he was at Kaldbukta in the morning and further west at Van Muydenbukta west of Ingeborgfjellet in the evening. The map shows a combination of GPS locations from 15 August and doppler locations from 16 August. Map reproduced with permission from Norwegian Polar Institute using TopoSvalbard

13 Aug 2011

12 August: Steve remains in Woodfjorden after moult

Steve had obviously finished moult 3 August, because we have a GPS location where he was tracked flying 48 km/hour. He was also quite mobile the day before, so probably already airborne 2 August. In contrast to the other three birds we know have finished moult in Svalbard (Niels, Fridtjof and Loff) and who all flew to other sites after moult, Steve is still in Woodfjorden, thus in the vicinity of his moulting site. The map shows all GPS locations collected post-moult from 2 throgh 12 August. Map reproduced with permission from Norwegian Polar Institute using TopoSvalbard

11 Aug 2011

4-10 August: Fridtjof and Loff both on the move after moult

We are facing problems with battery power in some of the satellite transmitters. All PTTs successfully changed from the low intensity summer protocol to the high intensity migration protocol on 1 August. Ideally this should result in 11 daily GPS locations and data uplink via the satellites every third day. The PTTs of Fridtjof and Loff have however both failed to collect GPS based locations most of the days since 1 August. It is evident from the Doppler locations we can get every third day when the transmitters communicate with the satellites that both birds now have finished moult. Fridtjof was 1 August still found on his moult site at the west coast of Austfjorden, on 4 August he gradually moved up to the northern parts of Wijdefjorden, and on 7 August he was found on the eastern end of Reinsdyrflya in north Spitsbergen (upper map). On 7 August Loff was was still in the vicinity of his moult site at Depotlaguna in Nordaustlandet, but 10 August he had moved down to Michajlovfjellet situated between the three glaciers Hinlopenbreen, Veitebreen and Hønerbreen in northeast Spitsbergen (lower map). Maps reproduced with permission from Norwegian Polar Institute using TopoSvalbard

30 July: Niels first bird flying after moult

Niels was the first bird to finish moult. 30 July he moved northeast from his potential breeding location at Van Keulenfjorden via a couple of nunataks north of Sporen to the eastern end of Van Mijenfjorden near Svea. He then spent some days on the south coast of Van Mijenfjorden - and then looped back to Van Keulenfjorden. In the evening 9 August he moved northeast to Kap Lee on Edgeøya. Map reproduced with permission from Norwegian Polar Institute using TopoSvalbard

Mid-summer status

The brent geese each year leave the spring-staging areas in Denmark during the last week of May and return to the autumn staging areas in England and Denmark during the first three weeks of September (median 10 September). Third week of July is thus ‘halfway’ in the summer area, and also the time when all geese are expected to have begun moult by shedding their flight feathers. The status for our six remaining feathered friends is summarized above with two maps showing their moulting location during 18-24 July and a little table below summarizing their status and distances moved so far (i.e. from departure untill 18 July). All but one apparently failed to breed.
We have lost contact to two geese. Jan Ove lost his transmitter over Hemsedal (PTT collected on the ground in Hemsedal without any sign of a carcass, as reported by our local finder Endre Ulsaker). Magnar might also have lost his transmitter when crossing the north Atlantic on 19 June, or he succumbed when he flew into head-winds and quite miserable stormy weather!

14 Jul 2011

14 July: Fridtjof at Austfjorden

The map displays Fridtjofs movement over the last week, where he has been quite mobile along the west coast of Austfjorden, and also visitied Vestfjorden and Wijdefjorden. Last observations on 13 July was on the shoreline below Gråkammen. Map reproduced with permission from Norwegian Polar Institute using TopoSvalbard

13 Jul 2011

13 July: Ebbe heads north to moult

11 July Ebbe moved north to Nordaustlandet - and it is now 100% sure he failed to breed and is on moult migration.

12 July: Steve in Woodfjorden

This picture reveals the movements of Steve over the last week - where he spent the first five days in Halvdandalen below Kronprinshøgda and the last two days a bit further south at the coastline below Burowtoppen. Map reproduced with permission from Norwegian Polar Institute using TopoSvalbard

10 Jul 2011

9 July: Loff "at home"

If one can talk about a home for a Brent Goose it must be where Loff has been in Nordaustlandet since 4 July. He is located in the surroundings of Ringgåsvatnet, northeast of Ringgåsdalen. Ringgås is the norwegian name for Brent Goose. Map reproduced with permission from Norwegian Polar Institute using TopoSvalbard

9 Jul 2011

9 July: Steve and Fridtjof both on moultmigration to Svalbard

In the morning of 4 July Steve left Greenland and flew to Woodfjorden in North Spitsbergen (upper map). As suggested previously it is now evident that he and his mate failed to breed this year. Fridtjof likewise - after visiting several potential breeding sites in Greenland from Île-de-France in south to Kilen in north, likewise flew over the Greenland Sea in the afternoon of 4 July. He is now on the westcoast of Austfjorden, also on North Spitsbergen (lower map).

5 Jul 2011

3 July: Niels most site-faithful bird

In contrast to Steve and Ebbe, Niels is still very site-faithful, and thus might be attending a female sitting on a nest. Over the last week he has only been away from Dishogdene a single afternoon on 27 June, indicated by the three dots at Arrheniusfjellet and Blankhatten. Map reproduced with permission from Norwegian Polar Institute using TopoSvalbard

3 July: Ebbe might also have failed breeding?

Ebbe is still located west of Lomfjorden. The image gives his locations over the last week. Looking more into the data from June reveals that he after a period from 8-29 June, where he primarily were located at the nunatak Manhøgda, after 29 June moved permanently down to the valley. This might indicate that he also failed breeding, unless he only attends his female during nighttime when the GPS-reciecer is off. Map reproduced with permission from Norwegian Polar Institute using TopoSvalbard

4 Jul 2011

3 July: Loff moved to Nordaustlandet

This picture summarises the movements of Loff since he left Edgeøya on 15 June, attempted a flight to Greenland on 22-23 June, moved back to Svalbard and Sassendalen on 28 June  - and now have moved north to the northcoast of Nordaustlandet - probably some of the harshest environments on the Svalbard archipelago.

3 July: Steve abandoned Kilen?

Steve has been very site-faithful and localised on the foothills of the Kilen mountains 12-25 June, but since then he visited Nakkehoved north of Kilen twice (26 and 30 June), and 2-3 July he had moved south to Amdrup Land. Unless males occasionally go on longer flights for suitable feeding sites while their mates are attending the nests, the increased mobility within this fairly short time-frame suggests a breeding failure. The female would need about 5 days to lay the clutch and 22 days to incubate it, and with a median hatch-date around 7 July as we now it from studies in Svalbard (see Madsen, J., Bregnballe, T. & Mehlum, F. 1989: Study of the breeding ecology and behaviour of the Svalbard population of Light-bellied Brent Goose Branta bernicla hrota. Polar Reserach 7, pages 1-21). 

30 Jun 2011

30 June: Jan Ove did fly over the mountains - or at least he tried?


Yesterday we suddenly recieved a few signals from Jan Ove's PTT - which now happens to be located in an open part of a forest 140 km NW of Oslo. So he obviously also took the route  from Oslo-fjorden up through Hemsedalen and over the mountains towards Western Norway, or at least he tried to do this. As reported on 5 June he might have lost the transmitter - else we have a dead goose laying on the ground in Hemsedal. Hope to send out some of our Norwegian friends to tjeck this shortly.

29 Jun 2011

29 June: Loff in Sassendalen

After his failed attempt to reach Greenland on 23 June, Loff over the last week gradually moved east via Coraholmen in Ekmanfjorden, Kap Wijk and Sauriedalen to Sassendalen, where he arrived 28 June. Map reproduced with permission from Norwegian Polar Institute using TopoSvalbard

29 June: Fridtjof moves north

Since his arrival to Danske Øer in Northeast Greenland on 14 June, Fridtjof has moved quite a bit around - visiting  Île-de-France, Norske and Franske Øer. This morning he has moved further north and was located at Eskimonæs.

28 Jun 2011

28 June: Niels still at Van Keulenfjorden

Niels after his arrival to Svalbard almost immediately went in to the bottom of Van Keulenfjorden - and there he has spent most of his time at the foothills of Dishogdene, but with occasional visits to the nunataks between the glaciers Dobrowolskibreen and Liestølbreen. Might suggest his female is sitting on a nest near Dishogdene. Map reproduced with permission from Norwegian Polar Institute using TopoSvalbard

24 Jun 2011

23 June: Ebbe sits on a nunatak

Ebbe most of the time sits on the nunatak Manhøgda west of Lomfjorden in northeast Spitsbergen, but occasionally visits the valley below the glacier Skinfaksebreen. The best interpretation of this behaviour must be that his female is sitting on a nest at Manhøgda 10 km inland from Faksevågen. Map reproduced with permission from Norwegian Polar Institute using TopoSvalbard

22-23 June: Loff heading for Greenland ...

In the morning of 22 June Loff flies over Longyearbyen at 8:00 and heads west over the ocean towards Greenland. The three westernmost dots are from 22 June at 18:00 and 19:00 and 23 June at 7:00. But he turns around and heads back to Prins Karls Forland, where he arrives 23 June at 18:00. Have no clue about why he changed his mind. Strong head-winds? Fog ?

22 Jun 2011

20 June: Caretaker and Steve settles to breed

Caretaker and Steve have most likely both settled to breed. The map shows positions form 12-19 June and evidence that the birds are quite stationary at Prinsesse Thyra Ø (Caretaker) and the interior of Kilen (Steve). As previously mentioned these sites are two known breeding locations for Light-bellied Brent Geese in North Greenland.

20 Jun 2011

19 June: Fridtjof moved a bit south

After flying over the Atlantic to Greenland on 14 June Fridtjof have spent four days on Danske Øer, but in the early morning of 19 June he moved south to Île-de-France

19 June: Magnar heading for Greenland?

After his climb over the mountains in southern Norway Magnar slowly made his way up along a more near-coastal route than the other geese, and spent some time on the west coast of Andøya. 19 June just around midnight he took off and by 18:00 he had moved 800 km out over the north Atlantic with a steady course towards Greenland. He thereafter stopped for a break at least four hours on the ocean, and at 22:00 the PTT stopped transmitting data to the satellites so we will have to wait another five days for the full story.

19 Jun 2011

18 June: Loff abandons Tusenøyane

Loff was previously noted as being the first bird we ever tracked with satellite transmitters to Tusenøyane - despite these islands are considered the most important breeding site for the geese. With the last weeks data we can now see it was only a brief visit. Loff quite soon went back to Edgeøya - and has now moved northwest to the eastcoast of Spitsbergen.

16 Jun 2011

16 June: PTTs changed protocol

During the summer period, where the Brent Geese will be less mobile (either because they breed and have nests and chicks to attend or because they moult and can't fly), the transmitters have been programmed so they store less GPS locations and submit data to the transmitters less frequently. So we have to wait two days for news to come out of the sky, so to say. We use this protocol in order to avoid loosing to much battery power - so the PTTs are 'fit for fight' when the birds start moving around again after moult or when their goslings fledge.

15 Jun 2011

15 June: Fridtjof gone west!

Fridtjof arrived at Danske Øer, a group of small islands east of Jøkelbugten in Greenland 14 June at 20:00 - having departed after 6:00 in the morning from Prins Karls Forland, the westernmost island in Svalbard. Note the little funny triangualar shape just west of Prins Karls Forland. This is evidence that Fridtjof actually took off already 13 June at 10:00 - but decided to return to the north end of the island and spend another day feeding. A detour of 100 km oceanic flight without getting anywhere.

14 Jun 2011

14 June: Caretaker moved to Prinsesse Thyra Ø

Caretaker is furthest north of all. After short-stops in Amdrup Land, at Kilen and at Nakkehoved, he has been on Prinsesse Thyra Ø since 9 June in the morning juni - an ilsand where several breeding pairs of Light-bellied Brent Geese were observed during aerial surveys in the summer of 2008 (Boertmann, D., Olsen, K. & Nielsen, R.D. 2009: Seabirds and marine mammals in Northeast Greenland. Aerial surveys in spring and summer 2008. NERI Technical Report No. 721). Apologise, but this Google Earth imagine could be better!

13 June: Steve shopping around in Greenland

Steve obviously can not decide where to reside. After his arrival to Greenland he first moved up from the coastal parts of Amdrup Land to the well-known and in some years important breeding site Kilen. Then he moved north to a little coastal strip of open land NW of Nordostrundingen, then returned via Kilen to the inner parts of Amdrup Land - just to return again to Kilen where he was back 12-13 June.

12 Jun 2011

11 June: Magnar climbs over the high mountains

At last Magnar seems to be heading north. He crossed Skagerak already 30 May in the morning - but have since then spent well over a week around a handful of small islands in Langesundbukta NE of Jomfruland. 8 June at 22 he flew uphil, crossed the mountains between Telemarken and Setesdal, and made a stop-over at a small lake between Storemidtfjell and Rassteinnutane 9 June from 4:00-18:00 at approx. 1200 m height. 9 June at 20:00 he was heading further north crossing the mountain Revseggi near Røldal flying at 1731 m height. From there he flew  east of the Folgefonna glacier and more or less straight North - reaching the coast just north of Herøy 10 June at 03:00. Since he has gradually moved up the coast - with last position 11 June at 14:00 just north of Smøla.

11 Jun 2011

10 June: Loff on Tusenøyane

Loff moved down to Tusenøyane (most likely Lurøya) 8 June in the morning - and is in fact the first of 17 Light-bellied Brent Geese we have tracked to the Arctic by satellite telemetry that have gone to this area, which back in 1985 held most of the breeding population

9 Jun 2011

8-9 June: waiting for my GIS system !!

Sorry - but Google Earth is not very good when it comes to zooming in on Svalbard!! What a crab picture showing that Ebbe has moved northeast on Svalbard.

Swapped from Windows XP to Windows 7 - and that killed ArcView I would normally use to produce nice maps of Svalbard!

7 Jun 2011

7 June: Steve continues to Greenland

After his extremely fast non-stop flight to Svalbard, Steve made a few short-stops of a few hours duration at Breinerflya (Sørkapp Land) and on Nordenskiöldskysten, a five day stopover in the surroundings of Daudmannsodden, and another short-stop on Prins Karls Forland - before embarking on his next flight to Greenland 6 June before 9:00 in the morning. Arrived in Amdrup Land 7 June at 12:00 after quite a detour over the Greenland Sea.

6 Jun 2011

6 June: Ebbe observed live in Adventsdalen



5 June was a wonderful sunday in Longeyarbyen - and the local bird observers from LoFF went out to look for birds, including Henrik Nygård who found a flock with a satellite tagged bird in Adventsdalen, and Øystein Varpe who later relocated the flock and read the rings of Ebbe and his associated female. Later today we learned that the birds had already been observed in the valley by Milla Niemi and Camille Posocco 31 May, and photographed by Trond Haugskott during the week. Enjoy his photo of the birds and Øystein Varpes photo of the spring habitat the Brent Geese use in Svalbard!

5 June: Caretaker heads on to Greenland

Caretaker as previously mentioned flew to the eastern part of the Svalbard archipelago, but we must now consider this as a major detour. Having spent less than 4 days on Svalbard visiting several short-term stopover sites, Caretaker headed on for Greenland on 5 June at 4:00 and arrived after an 8 hour flight to Amdrup Land at 16:00.

5 Jun 2011

5 June: what happened to Jan Ove?

Someone might have noticed that Jan Ove departed from Denmark 26 May with the first batch of satellite radio birds, but we have remained silent about his progress towards the Arctic. The story is that he migrated straight up to the top of Oslofjorden (perhaps heading for a climb over the mountains like Fridtjof and Loff), but we have received no further data when the transmitter was supposed to uplink data (30 May, 2 and 5 June). So either the transmitter fell or we have had some kind of technical failure (the last reported battery value of 3.89 V suggest OK battery charge).