10 April, 2010

A Ruddy Long Way to Fly

"Ruddy Turnstone is a small, highly-migratory wading bird with a large global range. It breeds in northern latitudes in open tundra habitat often close to water. Outside the breeding season it is found along coastlines, particularly on rocky or stony shores. It is the only species of turnstone in much of its range and is often called Turnstone.

"We have been amazed at the feats of Bar-tailed Godwit tracked by satellite from Australia and New Zealand to their breeding grounds in the high Arctic and back", said Dr Clive Minton from the Australasian Wader Studies Group. "Unfortunately the size of the satellite transmitters, and the batteries required to power them, precluded their use on smaller shorebirds like Ruddy Turnstone".

“… it was back in south-east Australia having completed a 27,000-km round trip” —Ken Gosbell, Chairman of the Australasian Wader Studies Group

The researchers therefore decided to use new 1 gram light-sensor geolocators - supplied by British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, England - and fitted them to eight Ruddy Turnstone spending their non-breeding season in south-east Australia in April 2009. Four geolocators were eventually retrieved from birds between 20 October 2009 and 8 January 2010.

"All four birds flew 7,600 km non-stop to Taiwan in just over six days, with three apparently travelling together", said Dr Clive Minton. They then flew on to northern Siberia, following separate paths and stopping over at different sites. "By early August, two had moved to Korea and south-eastern Siberia, respectively, but another bird returned to Australia via the Central Pacific!"

The Pacific bird spent 26 July -15 October on the Aleutian Islands before flying 6,200 km across the Pacific in four days to Kiribati, and then it made another four-day, 5,000-km flight to eastern Australia. "Five days later it was back in south-east Australia having completed a 27,000-km round trip", added Ken Gosbell - Chairman of the Australasian Wader Studies Group."

Read the whole story at: A Ruddy Long Way to Fly

I just wonder how long flights our Ruddy Turnstones make...?

07 April, 2010

Satellite Osprey Jukka is on the road to home!

Jukka is coming back, at the moment he is in Croatia. In summer 2009 the project, started in 2007 in collaboration between the Finnish Museum of Natural History, the Osprey Foundation and UPM, continued monitoring the life of a male Osprey with the help of the newest generation of GPS-Argos satellite transmitters.

See the whole story at: Satellite Osprey Jukka - Zoological Museum - FMNH

Photo copyright Hannu Vainiopekka

05 April, 2010

Birding in fog and rain by mountain bike

I don't really know which one is easier; birding in rain or birding in fog. During last days I have done both.
They both have downsides and advantages. In fog, the visibility is really poor and the tiny water particles cover all surfaces. But the birds are active and you can still find them relatively easy. In light rain, the visibility is usually better, but the on the other hand, the birds don't move a lot and all your gears and clothing get wet fast.

Still, with proper clothing and gears, birding in in fog or rain is not too difficult - on the contrary, it can be really enjoyable. Migratory birds that usually just fly over your area, may drop down and stay sedentary until weather gets better for migration. Many rarities have been also found during these "bad" weather conditions.

As our car broke down on Saturday, I have used my mountain bike for transportation while birding. It was cool to use bike for birding after long winter, and I will continue to use it also after the car is fixed, even though it diminishes the area that I can check during limited birding hours. While cycling, you will see and especially hear much more birds than while driving by car.

So, what I saw during these days? Lot's of European Robins (Erithacus rubecula), some Mistle Thrushes (Turdus viscivorus) and Song Thrushes (Turdus philomela), flocks of 50 and 30 Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris), 20 Bohemian Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus), Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Common Cranes (Grus grus), Whooper Swans (Cygnus cygnus), Canada Goose (Branta canadensis), Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus), hundreds of Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebes), Black-headed Gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus), Northern Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus), European Goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis) and many more.

Easter holiday is now over, back to work tomorrow... I hope the car will get fixed soon, as I'd love to make birding trips flood areas of Akaa and Kylmäkoski when the migration of Taiga Bean Geese start - and that will be soon!

03 April, 2010

The Spring is here

 The first spring month, March, was exceptionally cold this year, it felt like a winter. Very few birds arrived during March; mainly some Goosanders (Mergus merganser), Common Goldeneyes (Bucephala clangula) and Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus). But finally in the end of March, the weather changed and the spring rolled in to the north.

The rush of birds was great it continues still. Lots of species have arrived during last few days and they are rather easy to find as they concentrate in few places where the snow has already melted away. Skylarks (Alauda arvensis), Chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs), Bramblings (Fringilla montifringilla), Common Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), Reed Buntings (Emberiza schoeniclus), European Robins (Erithacus rubecula), Meadow Pipits (Anthus pratensis) and many other passerines can be found in the fields. Bigger birds have arrived as well; Northern Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus), Wood Pigeons (Columba palumbus), Kestrels (Falco tinnunculus), Common Buzzards (Buteo buteo), Rough-legged Buzzards (Buteo lagopus), Common Cranes (Grus grus), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Whooper Swans (Cygnus cygnus), Grey-lag Goose (Anser anser) and Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) can all be found now. And from now on, new species will arrive every day.

During last days I have found with my younger son Roni also some interesting species; an adult Western Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus graellsii / intermedius) was in  Viiala in the evening of 31st of March and today we found a Woodlark (Lullula arborea) from Metsäkansa. The Western Lesser Black-backed Gulls are rare in Finland and Woodlark is uncommon in this part of Pirkanmaa county. Oh, and few weeks ago we saw also 4 White-tailed Eagles (Haliaeetus albicilla) in Lempäälä.

Snow is melting now very fast, daytime temperature has been +10 degrees Celcius and next two days we should get lots of rain... that means flooding, and as you can see from the photo below, much more water is not needed now...