Arctic tern research in Svalbard, update

This video shows Dr Maarten Loonen, Arctic tern researcher at Groningen university in the Netherlands. In Svalbard, he holds Arctic tern Guusje, the first tern provided with a geolocator in Dr Loonen’s Arctic tern migration research on Spitsbergen island. If the glue of the ring around Guusje’s leg will be dry, then she will be released, to (probably) travel all the way to the Antarctic, and back to the Arctic.

The 39 terns provided with geolocators on Spitsbergen in 2013 have been named by 39 sponsors in a crowdfunding scheme. That scheme is now finished.

Of the 39 2013 geolocator Arctic terns, 13 individuals were caught again at the same nesting colony in Spitsbergen in 2014. The majority of the 2013 terns had not returned to the nesting site, as it suffered much from Arctic foxes stealing eggs.

The Arctic tern Beauty had already been ringed and provided with a geolocator in 2012; this bird was caught again in 2013, but not in 2014.

Names of the terns ringed in 2013 and recaptured in 2014: Anke, Benji, Henk de Groot, Inky, Jacobird, Jan Pier, Karmijn, Lubbe, Marjolein, Mystic, NoorDrenthe, Suzanne, Tom.

Names of the terns, ringed in 2013, and not caught again in 2014: Angelo, Annelies, Arctic Jewel, BenJeanette, Berna, Ellen, Flo, Frederico Segundo, Gerie, Gerrit de Veer, Guusje, Herman, Hidde, Imiqutailaq, Joanne, Jonathan, Krukel 1, Maamke, Maarten, Meliora, Riiser-Larsen, Ruth, SolarAccess, Stirns, Suzanne, Viti.

In 2014, also 18 Arctic terns nesting in Groningen province, in the Eemshaven harbour, in the Netherlands have been provided with geolocators.

This video by Maarten Loonen says about itself:

9 June 2013

I am joining Derick Hiemstra and Klaas van Dijk in the Eemshaven to observe and ring Arctic Terns. In this industrial area, activity is low and Arctic Terns have started breeding. On this location the world champions [in] migration distance were equipped with a geolocator two years ago and recaught one year ago. Today Derick and Klaas are doing their normal checks. They read colour rings but also metal rings from terns. Then we continue catching and ringing some breeding pairs. All this is part of my preparation for this summer field season on Spitsbergen.

20 Arctic terns nesting in the White Sea region in Russia got geolocators in 2014 as well.

Sea trout re-introduction in the Netherlands

This video says about itself:

Small Salmo trutta (7,5 cm), Brown trout/Sea trout always looking for something to eat

Fry from our local wild Sea trout from river stream Vester Nebel in Kolding, Denmark.

Translated from the Dutch Wadden Sea Society:


Sea trout will be freed in Lauwersmeer

On Friday, March 6th 1000 sea trout will be released into the Lauwersmeer lake. It’s the start of a multi-year restoration of this iconic migratory fish. A large coalition of nature lovers, anglers and regional governments want to work to let the trout swim again in healthy numbers between the Wadden Sea and their spawning grounds in Groningen and Drenthe. For the multiannual program this month a request for contributing financially by the Wadden Fund has been submitted.

Thanks to one-time contributions from the provinces of Groningen and Friesland, in anticipation of the implementation of the multiannual program, now sea trout will be released already into the Lauwersmeer.

American dark-eyed junco, second ever in the Netherlands

This 2 February 2015 video is about the dark-eyed junco in Beijum in the Netherlands.

Today, there is a dark-eyed junco in Beijum village in Groningen province in the Netherlands. This bird is the second ever reported individual of this North American species in the Netherlands.

Arctic terns get new island

This video from Britain is called Taking a look at terns 1: Common vs Arctic Tern.

BirdLife in the Netherlands reports that a few months ago, a new island was made for nesting Arctic terns.

The island is near the Punt van Reide-Breebaart nature reserve in Groningen province. A moat and an electic fence, against predation by foxes, separate it from the mainland.

Not only Arctic terns, also black-headed gulls will nest on the island. Good protection against raptors.

The Groninger Landschap conservationists, owners of the reserve, hope that a good nesting season for the terns will start, this April.

This is a Groninger Landschap video.

Rare black seal pup in rehabilitation

This 2008 Dutch video is about a black harbour seal pup in the seal sanctuary in Pieterburen then.

Translated from RTV Noord in the Netherlands:

Friday, January 23, 2015

The seal sanctuary in Pieterburen on Friday admitted a very special seal pup.

The seal has melanism, which means that it has a completely black fur. The animal was rescued by fishermen.


It is very rare that a seal has melanism. Since the rehabilitation center in Pieterburen started only eight animals with melanism were brought in.

Black-tailed godwits, new study

Ths is a Dutch black-tailed godwit video.

From the University of Groningen in the Netherlands:

Mow even later to save the godwit

Date: January 06, 2015

Meadows where godwits breed should only be mown after 1 July. This would be the most effective measure to call a halt to the continual decline in godwit numbers. This has been revealed by research conducted by Rosemarie Kentie, who will be awarded a PhD on 9 January 2015 by the University of Groningen.

Most grants for meadow bird protection are based on a mowing date of 15 June or even earlier. This is still much too soon for most of the godwit chicks, states Kentie. ‘In addition, the positive effects of mowing later would mostly be cancelled out if future protection concentrates only on a few selected key areas where there are currently a lot of godwits. Too many young godwits would “stray” to areas without protection, where they in turn would be able to raise far too few chicks.’

Coloured rings

In the past ten years, Kentie and her colleagues have been conducting field research on the godwits in southwest Friesland (in the North of the Nethetlands). They fitted thousands of birds with coloured rings, to make them individually recognizable at a distance. This enabled them to follow the dispersal of the birds over the breeding areas, their survival, breeding success and their migration over several years.

Herb-rich meadows versus monoculture

In her thesis, Kentie compared the godwits that breed on intensively farmed grasslands with birds that breed in damp, herb-rich meadows, where special ‘meadow bird management’ is usually also in place. In the years of the research, between 20 and 60% of the eggs laid on intensively farmed grasslands hatched. In herb-rich meadows this was between 50 and 70%.

Kentie: ‘The percentages on the herb-rich meadows are comparable with the hatching percentages in the early 1980s, when there were no foxes and also fewer other predators in the meadows. It’s thus not logical to blame only foxes for the decline in meadow birds. These predators seem to mainly profit from intensively farmed meadows, where it’s easier for them to find the nests in the shorter grass.’

Alongside the lower percentage of hatched eggs, the chances of chicks from intensively farmed grasslands growing into breeding birds were also significantly lower. ‘We have shown that these chicks grow less successfully, so lack of food will play a role here’, according to Kentie.

From source to black hole

In most of the years of the research, the herb-rich meadows were a ‘source’ of godwits – more chicks grew up than breeding birds died. Despite this, the population there did not increase. This is because young birds in particular spread across the country in subsequent years, often moving from the good, herb-rich meadows to monoculture areas. In these monoculture areas, reproduction was too low to compensate for the deaths – grassland monoculture areas were thus a notorious ‘black hole’ into which godwits from successful areas also disappeared without trace.

In her thesis, Kentie states that it may not be enough to concentrate efforts to protect meadow birds solely on the successful meadow bird areas. ‘Young godwits, and even a few of the adults, will move from the good areas to poorer areas in subsequent years. If you really want to halt the decline, you will somehow have to actively encourage the birds in the intensively managed farmland to move to the herb-rich meadows. Or there will have to be so many chicks growing up in the meadow bird areas that it won’t matter any more that some leave.’


Over 80% of all West European godwits breed in the Netherlands. Despite continual attempts to protect the meadow birds, the number of godwits has declined in the last forty years from 120,000 breeding pairs to about 35,000 breeding pairs, writes Kentie. The PhD student used computer calculations based on all possible characteristics of the birds as well as the influences of the environment to create a ‘godwit prediction’. If nothing changes in the way we manage the meadows, the godwit population will be decimated in the next century.

If the first mowing date in meadows specially managed for godwits is postponed from 15 June to 1 July, Kentie’s computer model expects a potential increase in the number of godwits over the next century. ‘However, these meadows must also be fertilized less. Otherwise the grass will grow too long and too thick, which means the chicks will no longer be able to walk through it in search of insects.’


Rosemarie Kentie (Amsterdam, 1981) did her PhD research at the Center for Ecological and Evolutionary Studies of the University of Groningen. The title of her thesis is Spatial demography of black-tailed godwits – Metapopulation dynamics in a fragmented agricultural landscape. Her promotores are Theunis Piersma and Christiaan Both.

British and Irish rare birds news update

This is a Brunnich’s guillemot video from Lauwersoog in the Netherlands.

From Rare Bird Alert in Britain:

Thursday 18th December 2014

Significant late news concerned a Brunnich’s Guillemot which was seen from the Uig (Highland) to Lochmaddy (Western Isles) ferry last Sunday.

Lingering rarities seen today included the Blyth’s Pipit in West Yorkshire, Ivory Gull and Richardson’s Cackling Goose in the Western Isles, Lesser Yellowlegs in County Dublin, King Eider in Shetland, single Lesser Scaups in Ayrshire and Lothian and Eastern Black Redstart in the Isles of Scilly.