Fetlar's far travelled phalaropes

News Posted:

National and local media has been buzzing with the news about Fetlar's far travelled phalaropes. Malcie Smith from the RSPB said "Its fantastic that phalaropes from Fetlar take part in one of the worlds great migrations".

The RSPB, working alongside the Swiss Ornithological Institute and Dave Okill of the Shetland Ringing Group, fitted individual geolocators to 10 red-necked phalaropes nesting on the island of Fetlar in Shetland in 2012. Each geolocator weighed just 0.6g and was fitted to the bird with harnesses made from tubing.

After successfully recapturing one of the tagged birds when it returned to Fetlar last spring, experts discovered it had made an epic 16,000-mile round trip during its annual migration.

It had flown from Shetland across the Atlantic via Iceland and Greenland, south down the eastern seaboard of the US, across the Caribbean and Mexico, ending up off the coast of Ecuador and Peru.

After wintering in the Pacific, it returned to Fetlar, following a similar route.

Prior to this, many experts had assumed that Scottish breeding phalaropes joined the Scandinavian population at their wintering grounds, thought to be in the Arabian Sea.

A longer article on the discovery can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-25661650