Godwit Rosso (Limosa lapponica) is closely related to the Dutch national bird, the common black-tailed bird (L. limosa). But when the latter has a clear preference for freshwater areas, the ribbon-tailed godfather lives more in the salty environment. Both winter in West Africa. However, the reddish subspecies breeds in northern Siberia, and is especially common in the Netherlands. The Wadden Sea is a vital “gas station” for the broad-tailed godfather in spring and fall.
“And that’s the problem,” Bersma says. Spring begins early and earlier in broad-tail breeding grounds. While the average temperature on Earth has risen by one degree since the Industrial Revolution, it has already reached three degrees in the Arctic. Insects emerge from thawed soil earlier and earlier, so breeding birds must come early and sooner to be able to provide enough food for their chicks.
From previous research with ribbon-tailed Godwits, Birsma and his colleagues already learned that the birds should get fat quickly after arriving around the Wadden Sea in the spring. Well-trained, they arrived from Africa, only to fly for the final stage to Siberia just two weeks later. The researchers want to use channel research to see if the Waddenzee filling station is of sufficient quality. “Birds rarely leave their wintering places in West Africa early,” says Birsma. The question is: will the tailed fortune-tellers be able to fill their stomachs here in an increasingly shorter time, in order to arrive a little earlier in Siberia? In other words: are there enough mudflats? Do lawns provide enough insects for fuel? Can they make up for the delay with us? ›.
It has been agreed in International Biology that rings or other research baggage may never weigh more than five percent of an animal’s weight—significantly enough, that relies on the ancient craft of Jukema, Hek, and dozens of Friesian fellows.
The traditional bird hunting, called wilsterflaps in Friesland, is full of history. Many Frisians hide behind windshields or snowboards for a long time: golden plovers. Originally, these wilers were fluttered for sale to a poulterer or for their own bowl. Elsewhere in the north of Holland, geese were beaten in the same way, for example. But in 1978, a ban on hunting legally protected birds threatened to end the ancient craft.
Fortunately for bird hunters, biologists realized that they could never use time, let alone experience, to capture as many birds for their research as these artisans. Therefore, they were keen to continue this profession with a license for scientific research. So the globe poulterer and cooking pot were replaced by circular tongs. To this day, a select group of hunters flutter various species of geese, golden plovers, cranes and also ribbon-tailed goddesses at the flag service.
Roeland Bom, a bird researcher at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ), works in the Terschellinger meadow. When Jukema and Hek measured, weighed and installed the ring-flap-tail Godwit from a bird migration station, Bom conjured up a small piece of electronics. The transmitter, which weighs only one sugar cube, contains GPS, a battery, a solar panel to keep the battery charged for several months, a chip for storing all the positions, and a transmitter as well as an antenna to monitor the information collected at regular intervals . Bom’s computer over the regular mobile network. With a light belt of feathers, the Bom straps the transmitter like a fanny pack behind the graceful legs, to the bird’s back. “This is a female,” Bombshell says. In spring, males are redder than females. They are also slightly larger than the males.
Before being released again, only the label remained. It is very fitting that this female is called Lies, after the village of Terschellinger located between Formerum and Hoorn. Pom hopes ‘lies will provide us with plenty of information’, when the bird silently and seemingly undisturbed from her expensive hundreds of euro fanny pack once again visits her species.