Of Murres and Ice cream

Sunny and warm greetings from the field site on Stora Karlsö! 
In collaboration with the Baltic Seabird Project, we study the foraging behavior and movement ecology of common murres (Uria aalge) that breed on this idyllic island off the coast of Gotland. Currently there are around 7000 breeding pairs. 

Traditionally whenever a ferry with a researcher arrives, fellow researchers go down to welcome them and take the opportunity to get an ice cream from the local restaurant/cafe.

This year, we have caught 17 adults and attached GPS loggers on them. Five of these birds were tagged as part of the project last year as well. 50 known-age adults have also been bled for biological aging studies, conducted by Dr. Rebecca Young from the United States. She hopes to elucidate the physiological and behavioral trade-offs associated with life history strategies and aging in long-lived species (such as murres!). 
Murres on ledge ‘A1’ that are the subjects of diet and foraging behavior studies.

We are currently in the middle of the annual ‘grissling’ or the systematic ringing of fledged murre chicks that has been ongoing since 1913. The chicks jump from the cliff-nests onto the rocky beach below and attempt to make it to the sea, where they rejoin their waiting father. Researchers and willing tourists run along the beach, collect them as they fall, and bring them to the ringing stations where we weigh and band them. Up to 750 chicks can be banded in one night and stories of war wounds (sustained for example as a chick lands on your face) are proudly worn and recounted in the early hours of the morning around the kitchen table of the researchers hut. 

Murre chick right before banding.

Until next time!

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