Common Ringed Plovers: meeting an old friend!

Little ringed plover trapped in Vomb. 
This year's field season in the south (Skåne and Öland) has come to an end. As usual the target has been to catch breeding common ringed plovers to retrieve and deploy various data loggers on Öland. This year’s field season has also concerned retrieval of activity loggers from little ringed plovers around Lund. More about the aim of these specific project can be read about in a previous blogpost from 2017!

It was with great excitement I visited Ottenby the first time in mid-March to see if any plovers had returned yet. Usually the plovers are early and around March 10 many can be seen along the lighthouse road. However, spring had to wait for a while. The meadows were still covered by snow and ice, and only a handful of early arrivals were fighting the cold winds. 

Snow and ice along the light house road.
Then things moved forward swiftly and at last the birds spread out over the area. Males were displaying over their territories in the characteristic “butterfly” flights and the breeding season proceeded as usual. Only a couple of days of harsh weather covered the ground with snow again. But this did not hinder the duties of the plovers. The first nests were found in middle of April and from that point it was time for catching. Several individuals with activity loggers had returned. These loggers were deployed last year instead of the regular light level geolocators.

However, common ringed plovers are long lived and even if “regular” light level geolocators are not deployed anymore, old ones may return. In order to recognize the plovers in the field, each caught bird are individually marked with color rings for easy identification in the field. One female was immediately identified as one that was breeding and equipped with a geolocator in the area in 2013. Remarkably the logger was still on her! Five years have passed! Five years back and forth from the breeding and wintering ground. Unfortunately, the battery in such device do not last for that long, but at least two autumn migration and one spring migration should have been recorded. 

A true hero: this female was logged in 2013 and only this year I was able to catch her.
Soon after the catching at Ottenby was initiated there were time for the little ringed plovers around Lund to start with their breeding choirs. Soon after the first observations we started to search for active nests, which is not easy to find. Last year 22 activity loggers were deployed. The field season was a big success! Seven activity loggers were retrieved, among them one from 2016. 

Well camouflaged little ringed plover nest

This was the end of chapter one of this year’s field season. Now waits a second spring in the north. First stop will be Kalix and a small island in the Happaranda archipelago, Malören, and second will be Abisko.

/Linus Hedh

Inga kommentarer:

Skicka en kommentar