Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Bird Migration: First 'Transmitter Godwit' Back To West Africa In One Go

Date:
June 25, 2009
Source:
University of Groningen
Summary:
One of the fifteen Frisian 'transmitter godwits', which was still in Friesland on Saturday, arrived in Senegal in West Africa on Tuesday morning. The bird, nicknamed Heidenskip, appears to have flown from Friesland via Spain and over the Sahara in one go. The distance, over four thousand kilometers, was covered by the bird in two days of nonstop flying. Her average speed was nearly eighty kilometers per hour.

Ysbrand Galama and University of Groningen Master's student Hacen release Heidenskip.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Groningen

One of the fifteen Frisian ‘transmitter godwits’, which was still in Friesland on Saturday, arrived in Senegal in West Africa on Tuesday morning. The bird, nicknamed Heidenskip, appears to have flown from Friesland via Spain and over the Sahara in one go. The distance, over four thousand kilometres, was covered by the bird in two days of nonstop flying. Her average speed was nearly eighty kilometres per hour.

‘If you subtract the tailwind from that, you still are left with a speed of nearly fifty kilometres per hour. That’s an impressive performance’, says research leader Prof. Theunis Piersma of the University of Groningen.

In May this year, Theunis Piersma’s research group fitted fifteen black-tailed godwits in Friesland with transmitters. The researchers want to use the transmitter project to find out exactly how the birds migrate between their winter and summer grounds. Piersma: ‘That will enable us to find out exactly where these waders need to be protected.’ The godwit survey is being conducted with the help of tiny transmitters that are placed into the abdominal cavity of the birds. This transmitter contacts the Argos satellites at prearranged times, and they then send the position of the transmitter through to the researchers.

Lost clutch

Heidenskip was named after the place in Friesland where she was caught on her nest in early May. After the godwit had had the transmitter inserted into her abdominal cavity, she just continued to brood, but a few days later she lost her clutch despite the farmer carefully mowing around the nest. After she lost her eggs, Heidenskip spent a month building up her energy reserves. During that time she roved around the area near her nest site. On 20 June the bird was spotted for the last time in the Workumerwaard, in the south-west part of Friesland. By the next check, a day later, she was flying over the Straits of Gibraltar. A day later she was ‘seen’ by the satellite on a beach just to the south of the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott. On Tuesday morning at around 10 a.m. she crossed over the Senegal river, in the border area between Mauritania and Senegal.

Too few chicks

In addition to Heidenskip, the godwit Warkum was also spotted on 22 June over the Western Sahara. The birds Bakhuzen, Himmelum and Skuzum were somewhere in southern Spain at that time and Starum was flying over Madrid. ‘At least four of these six godwits lost their clutches of eggs’, says Piersma. ‘Birds who manage to raise chicks need a bit more time to put on weight, but the first of that group is also now on its way to West Africa. This information makes us even more aware that godwits are only in our country for a very short period of time to breed, and then they quickly return “home” to Africa. That makes it all the more painful to realise that the most important bottleneck in these birds’ lives is when they are with us. Intensive agriculture means not enough godwit chicks are reaching adulthood to ensure the survival of the species’, according to Piersma.

Wonderful coincidence

Heidenskip was caught during the breeding season by University of Groningen researcher Ysbrand Galama from It Heidenskip and the Mauritanian biology student Hacen ould Mohammed el Hacen. ‘A wonderful coincidence’, thinks Piersma. ‘Of the fifteen godwits fitted with transmitters, Heidenskip is the first to reach West Africa. She’s really living up to her name – the 380 inhabitants of It Heidenskip are famous in Friesland for their relatively high number of sporting heroes, including ditch vaulting (fierljeppen), pole climbing and tug-of-war. On top of that, Heidenskip flew back to Hacen’s homeland – Mauritania.’

Research project

The transmitter project is a joint project of the University of Groningen, the Alaska Science Center of the US Geological Survey, ecological research bureau Altenburg & Wymenga and the Nederland-Gruttoland coalition. The project is supported financially by the Department of Knowledge of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and the Province of Friesland. The birds can be followed via http://www.vogelbescherming.nl/grutto


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Groningen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Groningen. "Bird Migration: First 'Transmitter Godwit' Back To West Africa In One Go." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090625074633.htm>.
University of Groningen. (2009, June 25). Bird Migration: First 'Transmitter Godwit' Back To West Africa In One Go. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090625074633.htm
University of Groningen. "Bird Migration: First 'Transmitter Godwit' Back To West Africa In One Go." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090625074633.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

      Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins