Skipping-type migration in a small Arctic wader, the Temminck's stint Calidris temminckii
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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By using morphometric data and geolocator tracking we investigated fuel loads and spatio-temporal patterns of migration and non-breeding in Temminck's stints Calidris temminckii. Body masses in stints captured at autumn stopover sites from Scandinavia to northern Africa were generally not much higher than during breeding and did not vary geographically. Thus, we expected migrating stints to make several stopovers and either circumventing the Sahara desert with low fuel loads or fuelling at north African stopover sites before desert crossing. Geolocation revealed that birds (n = 6) departed their Norwegian breeding site in the last part of July and all but one migrated south-west over continental western Europe. A single bird headed south-east to the Balkan Peninsula where the geolocator died. As predicted, southbound migration proceeded in a typical skipping manner with 1–4 relatively short stopovers (median 4 d) during 10–27 d of migration before reaching north-west Africa. Here birds spent 11–20 d before crossing the Sahara. The non-breeding sites were located at or near the Niger River in Mali and were occupied continuously for more than 215 d with no indications of itinerancy. Spring migration commenced in late April/early May when birds crossed the desert and used stopover sites in the western Mediterranean basin in a similar manner as during autumn. The lowest body masses were recorded in spring at islands in the central Mediterranean basin, indicating that crossing the Sahara and Mediterranean barriers is exhausting to these birds. Hence, the skipping-type pattern of migration revealed by geolocators is likely to be natural in this species and not an effect of instrumentation.