From Norway to Mali - Tracking Temminck’s stints

Submitted by Johan on 24 March 2015.

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For a long time, I’ve been fascinated by the variation in breeding systems, morphology, habitats and other general lifestyles of waders. When I first learnt about light-level geolocation as a technique for tracking the non-breeding movements of birds I therefore started to think about good wader candidates to study with this method.

Teaming up with Steffen Hahn at the Swiss Ornithological Institute made such a project realistic.

We chose the Temminck’s stint as a study species since the number of ringed birds is generally low, and few ring recoveries are available to indicate where the birds stay during the non-breeding season. Also, noone had been able to track individuals of such small waders when we started this study in 2010. The miniature geolocators really opened up a

range of new and exciting opportunities for this kind of research.

The field work was done at Finse in the mountains of south-central Norway. Each year up to about 30 Temminck’s stint nests could be found in this area which lies at the south-western limit of the species’ global distribution. Located at the foot of a magnificent glacier Finse is best described as a cold and rather hostile alpine landscape. This is especially the case in years when spring thaw is late. During the first part of the breeding season in June skiing is often the best way to move around in the study area.

Nevertheless, Temminck’s stints appear to like this environment which seems so extreme to us. Their breeding habitat is found in typically sparsely vegetated areas with scattered ponds formed of melting snow. Such areas are often located near streams and rivers pouring down from the melting glacier. It must certainly be a large contrast to the non-breeding areas of our geolocator birds which we now know spent most of the year at the Niger River in Mali!

Terje Lislevand (Author)


This paper is published under an Open Access license and it is free to access and download: