Satellite tracking of Ross's Gulls

2 juni 2021  ·  Vladimir Dinets & Bestuur Dutch Birding Association

Vladimir Dinets is in need of funding for an impressive study into the mysterious migration of the Ross's Gull. Since Dutch Birding is interested in rare birds and potential vagrants to our country, our obvious connection with this species which is even sporting our logo and the recent visit of two of these enigmatic gulls to our shores, we decided to join the effort and host this call for support. Vladimir is also no stranger to Dutch Birding, since he was one of the trip leaders of the Dutch Birding Spoon-billed Sandpiper expedition back in 2007. Below you can find the information Vladimir wrote about his project.

Ross' Meeuw Rhodostethia rosea, IJmuiden, 30 april 2021 (Arnoud van den Berg)

The Ross’s Gull is the most enigmatic bird of the North. Despite its cult status among zoologists and two centuries of research, its migration routes and main wintering areas are still unknown. Recently, miniaturization of remote tracking devices has made it possible to solve the mystery quickly and easily, but installing these devices has to be done in a remote area of Siberia where few zoologists have been able to work. I will use my experience in conducting fieldwork in that region and in remote tracking to equip six Ross’s Gulls with solar-powered GPS-trackers and follow their movements via satellite. A few years ago I was given grant for the study and bought six satellite transmitters, but due to travel restrictions I wasn't able to install them in 2020 and the grant expired.

What is the significance of this project?

The strange migrations of Ross's gulls have been the great mystery of Arctic biology since the 19th century. It puzzled the greatest Arctic explorers, and numerous expeditions tried to figure out where and how the birds live for most of the year, but most of the puzzle is still unsolved. This study will finally determine the birds' migration routes and wintering areas, their habitat preferences outside the nesting period, and their possible vulnerability to climate change and oil spills. These data will be critically important for studies of climate-related shifts in Arctic ecosystems, because the unusual ecology of the Ross’s gull makes it uniquely valuable as an indicator species.

Ross' Meeuw Rhodostethia rosea, Noorderhavenhoofd Scheveningen, 24 april 2021 (Jillis Roos)

What are the goals of the project?

The aim of the project is to find where Ross's gulls spend the months of September-May, why their known occurrences during that period have such bizarre and illogical pattern, and how they manage to survive the winter in the total darkness of the frozen Arctic seas.

So now, the problem I encounter is that I need funding to pay for the digital services which manage the data the GPS-trackers produce. The trackers remain, but I have no way of using them. Therefore, I plead for your help and want to crowdfund this project. The goal is to reach the needed $4,000 to pay for the Argos Satellite System. For more information about the entire project, please visit this link.

Ross' Meeuw Rhodostethia rosea, IJmuiden, 2 mei 2021 (Marten Miske)

Where to donate? Waar kan ik doneren?

Hier is de DONATIELINK! Ook vind je via deze link nog eens alle informatie over het project.

Solving the mystery of Ross's Gull migration, 2 June 2021 (Vladimir Dinets)