Bureau Waardenburg
Varkensmarkt 9
4101 CK Culemborg
the Netherlands
T: +31 (0) 345 512710
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Vogelonderzoek met geo loggers
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Bird Research with geolocators

More and more projects are using geolocators to study the movements of birds. As the smallest dataloggers are now less than 1g even small species of birds can be followed on their seasonal migrations.

Geolocators consist of a light sensor and an accurate clock. These tiny devices record the light levels at various times and these data can be downloaded once the bird is recaptured and the device retrieved. By recording the time (relative to GMT) of sunrise (or sunset) and the time at which the sun is directly overhead, it is possible to calculate the longitude and latitude at a given time. In this way the movements of birds can be studied at the large scale.

Bureau Waardenburg has supported studies with geolocators through the development of deployment techniques, the catching of birds, logger deployment and data analysis. Most recently, we have been involved with projects on barn swallows, arctic terns and black terns. 

Barn swallow 

In 2011 and 2012, staff of Bureau Waardenburg assisted with the catching of barn swallows and the deployment of geolocators at three locations in the Netherlands. This project was commissioned by the Dutch BirdLife partner (Vogelbescherming Nederland) and aimed to reveal the wintering areas and migration routes of barn swallows breeding in the Netherlands.

More information is available on the websites of the Dutch BirdLife partrner (vogelbescherming.nl) and the Dutch ringing scheme (vogeltrekstation.nl) (in Dutch).

Arctic tern and black tern

In 2010 and 2011, geolocators were deployed on Arctic terns and black terns at colonies within the Netherlands. Staff of Bureau Waardenburg developed harnesses and leg rings for the geolocators. We also assisted with the catching, tagging and recapture of the terns, making use of our many years of tern catching experience. Data from the geolocators were downloaded and analysed by Bureau Waardenburg staff and results presented in maps. The results of the study on Arctic terns have now been published in Ardea. These projects were carried out in cooperation with Landschapsbeheer Zuid-Holland; see Black Tern from South-Holland turns out to be a seabird and the news story in the website of the Dutch BirdLife partner (Vogelbescherming Nederland) (in Dutch).

Geolocators, deployment and methods

Bureau Waardenburg has many years experience in the catching of birds and bird ringing. Furthermore, many of our qualified bird ringers have experience of fitting various tracking devices and in the development and testing of harnesses and leg rings for device deployment. Through previous collaborations, we have good contact with the developers of gelocators, the British Antarctic Survey. We work closely with our internal GIS and statistics department during the analysis and during the mapping of migrations routes, staging areas (kernel utility density estimates). 

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