Dutch marsh harrier, all the way to Ghana and back

This video, from Spain, shows a female marsh harrier, a red kite and a raven quarreling about food.

Translated from the Dutch ornithologists of Werkgroep Grauwe Kiekendief:

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A newcomer to the GPS logger research is marsh harrier “Roelof”, an adult male provided last summer with a GPS logger. Roelof returned this spring to East Groningen, with a logger packed with GPS positions. He turned out to have had a highly remarkable journey! …

Roelof returned on April 15, 2015 in East Groningen, where he presented himself at the local antenna network where we can remotely read stored GPS data. …

In the autumn of 2014 Roelof flew via Spain to his first wintering area in Senegal, where he arrived on 27 September. This route falls exactly within the narrow migration flyway which is usual for marsh harriers. Christiane Trierweiler et al. described that harriers do not remain all winter in a single area, but during the winter they move to southern areas as the northern areas get dry. These are mostly trips of several hundred kilometers.

Roelof left his first wintering area on November 10 to land about 500 kilometers to the south in Guinea. To our surprise Roelof did not stay there until the end of the winter, but he left the area on January 26 to fly 1,700 kilometers along the West African south coast, eventually ending up all the way in Ghana! Ghana is really far away for a Dutch marsh harrier, outside the ‘normal’ wintering area.

On the shores of Lake Volta

In Ghana Roelof stayed around the shores of Lake Volta. This huge lake is probably a good wintering place for marsh harriers and the question is how he ever ‘found’ this place. Did he come here in his youth by chance, making the place by now a fixed point in his annual schedule? Or perhaps Roelof has eastern genes telling him that in winter this is the place to be? Monitoring young harriers will be the key to answering this kind of exciting questions.

Roelof left the Volta Lake on February 28, keeping a northwesterly course. Aided by a firm tailwind he was ‘blown’ across the Sahara until he reached the ocean coast in the Western Sahara. From there he continued his journey towards the northeast, where he made two short stops in Morocco (as befits a marsh harrier). From Morocco, he flew straight back to exactly the same reed bed in eastern Groningen …

This photo by Ben Koks shows marsh harrier Roelof, on the left, and his female partner. On Roelof’s back, one can see his GPS logger.

How marsh harrier William lives

This is a marsh harrier video.

Translated from the Werkgroep Grauwe Kiekendief in the Netherlands:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

From 2009 on, the Werkgroep Grauwe Kiekendief [Montagu’s Harrier Workgroup] uses state-of-the-art UvA BiTS GPS loggers to map the movements of individual Montagu’s harriers in detail. In the vast East Groningen fields, however, besides Montagu’s harriers also hen and marsh harriers live. To compare how these three harrier species use the countryside precisely, the GPS logger investigation was expanded in 2012 to hen and marsh harriers.

A cold drizzly spring day in 2012 turned out to be a historic day in the marsh harrier research. This day was when near Delfzijl the first marsh harrier was caught for the GPS logger research. The male, called ‘William’ turned out to wear an aluminum ring of the bird migration research station. The ring data showed that William at the time was two years old, and had hatched in exactly the same reed bed where he nested now.

Different hunting pattern

It was exciting to follow the movements of William during the breeding season. William flew remarkably often along ditches, making a map of its track show the East Groningen allotment pattern. This contrasts with Montagu’s marriers, which also hunt in the central parts of fields and meadows. That William prefered to hunt along ditch banks was also evident from the prey remains found at his favourite place to sit, a striking number of ducklings and water voles.

Starling murmuration attacked by bird of prey, video

This video shows a starling murmuration near Schildmeer lake in Groningen province in the Netherlands.

About nine seconds into the video, a bird of prey attacks the starlings.

Steven Weghorst made this video.

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.