12 May 2012

3 May 2012: Status after first Brenttags year

Your blogger have been absent the pasts months because I´ve been busy with other duties and fairly little has happened with the satellite transmittered geese. We have lost contact to most, either because they have fallen off or because we have programmed them to download more GPS positions than they actually can manage with the solar power provided by short winter days around the North Sea.

Status for our eight geese caught in spring 2011: 

Ebbe: we still follow. The only goose who has an active transmitter a year after capture. He flew to Svalbard, tried to breed on a nunatak in northeast Spitsbergen, failed and flew to Nordaustlandet to moult. Flew to Lindisfarne to winter. It is uncertain exactly when he returned to Denmark – because we had no signakls between 21 October 2011 through 1 March 2012, but 2 March he was back in the surroundings of Boddum in the western Limfjord area. These movements by 3 May 2012 involves an annual journey off approx. 10,000 km. The maps gives the whole route – where the yellow line shows the spring and moult migration routes, and the blue gives the autumn and winter flights.  

1 Feb 2012

13 January 2012: Highland Ringing Group joins the Brenttags team

At last success.  After having set nets 5 times and spent around 50 hours of trying, Simon Foster and Carl Mitchell from the Highland Ringing Group finally succeeded in catching a little group of 10 Light-bellied Brent Geese near Nairn on the Moray Firth, Scotland. The birds were colour-ringed individually with “our rings”. This capture is exciting because previous records of metal as well as colour-ringed birds from this region of Scotland have involved birds ringed in Svalbard, Lindisfarne and Denmark, thus from the East Atlantic flyway-population, but also birds ringed in Ireland and Iceland, hence from the East Canadian High Arctic flyway-population – but we do not know whether this area is an overlap zone or whether birds from one flyway-population are “regulars” and birds from the other are “stragglers” blown over. It will be exciting to see if some of these birds fly to spring-staging areas in Denmark and others to Iceland, or they all move in one direction. 

Photo is Simon Foster holding one of the 10 caught birds. The map shows the two mentioned flyways as currently understood - where the orange dot indicate the catch area.

13 January 2012: Loff second bird returning to Denmark

After almost two months of silence from Loff's transmitter - he suddenly started to uplink data to the satellites on 13 January, and it is evident he is back in the vicinity of the catch sites. The map gives the few locations collected in January 2012. The exacyt departure from Lindisfarne however remains unknown (last location over there 21 November 2011).

16 December 2011-20 January 2012: Steve moves over to Denmark

After 28 days of silence from the transmitter a single ‘beep’ came out over the North Sea, when Steve on 16 December at 12:07 was approaching Denmark 10 km of the mainland coast. This flight of approx. 630 km from Lindisfarne to Denmark obviously gave a burst of sun to the solar panel, charging the batteries to some extent. On 23 December he was located at Karby Enge and 6 January he was observed on the very same spot by Erling Andersen, one of our keen local observers - only 8 km northeast of the site where we caught him last spring. During the flight over the North Sea he also passed the “10,000 km mark”, the minimum distance he has moved since we released him with a satellite transmitter on 3 May 2011. The next two weeks he was moving around the Western Limfjord, including visiting the vicinity of the catch site at Boddum (marked by yellow pin). 

September-November: 10 weeks with the four transmitter birds in Lindisfarne

Ebbe in Lindisfarne 15-20 September
Fridtjof in Lindisfarne 18-21 September
Loff in Lindisfarne 15 September-21 October
Steve in Lindisfarne 18 September-21 October
After the arrival of Ebbe, Loff, Fridtjof and Steve to Lindisfarne we managed to track their utilisation of the site for a few days or weeks - dependant on when the transmitters batteries exhausted (or the transmitters were lost?). The charts above gives the GPS locations collected during the period mentioned. From doppler locations we know that the birds certainly stayed longer. The last doppler locations from Lindisfarne thus were 21 September (Ebbe), 21 October (Loff), 4 November (Fridtjof), and 18 November (Steve). The different colours on individual maps has no different meaning (un-explained error occurring when plotting the maps with the Earth Point - Excel to KML plug-in for Google Earth).

31 Jan 2012

13 October: Fridtjof airborne over Lindisfarne

Thursday 13 October Bryan Galloway, Peter Fawcett and some other local birders walked out to Beal Point to watch birds, where Bryan Galloway suddenly spotted a flying goose with a satellite transmitter. The day after we received an email with this stunning picture of Fridtjof in flight with his satellite transmitter – and the message “Please find some photographs of a Brent Goose which I saw at Lindisfarne yesterday. I think it must be Steve or Ebbe. We had a great day watching the hundreds of Brent geese resting and flying over the sands at Lindisfarne. Suddenly, out of the blue, out popped this one with a transmitter on its back. It looked in good shape”. We could, however, identify the bird as Fridtjof from the barely visible combination of a red above white ring on the birds right foot. Photo courtesy of Peter Fawcett (c)

8-9 October: Steve observed by Steve in Lindisfarne

 In the week-end Steve Percival went on a field-trip to Lindisfarne. Steve studied the Light-bellied Brent Geese intensively at Lindisfarne from 1990 through 2000, and have caught and ringed 333 birds on the site. He found a pair of ringed birds – and realized that one of them had a transmitter. Although he could not read the letter on the yellow ring, the combination of a pair where both birds had white over green on their right leg, the male had a transmitter, and the female Yellow S on its left leg, make it possible to identify this as being gander Steve named after Steve! 

14-24 September: Niels flies south with a distinctly different behavior

In contrast to the other birds, that all flew almost non-stop and fairly directly to Lindisfarne, Niels had a distinctly different behavior – where he gradually moved south with a lot of small jumps. His exact departure from Svalbard is unknown. On 14 September he was located northeast of Hitra and from there he gradually and slowly moved south along the west coast of Norway to Skoltafjorden north of the island Stolmen.  No signals have been received from the PTT after 24 September.

18 September: All birds with known final destiny now in Lindisfarne

We so far managed to follow four individuals successfully to their first autumn staging area. With the arrival of Fridtjof in Lindisfarne on 18 September in the evening, all these birds surprisingly flew into Northeast England. Lindisfarne is a well-known wintering site which since the mid-1980s typically has been used by half of the flyway-population from October through December. The other half fly to wintering sites in Denmark – mostly in the northeastern parts of the mainland Jutland. Hence it is a bit surprising that all bird managed to follow through to the wintering areas all went west.  

12 September: Contact with Caretaker lost in southwestern Norway

Caretaker was still on Svalbard 3 September. Next locations we have are from his passage over the Barents Sea from Svalbard towards mainland Norway, where he on 9 September at 6:00 in the morning were southwest of Bjørnøya and at 17:00 reached Andøya in Lofoten. During 10-12 September he gradually moved south along the west coast of Norway to the coastline between Revtangen and Hå 25 km southwest of Stavanger. No signals have been received from the PTT after 12 September.