Posted on Apr 15, 2013

The field season is almost upon me! Here’s an updated photo of my pile of kit – quite impressive I think. 

Lots of kit

Lots of kit

To save space I’ve swapped plastic collecting jars for space-efficient ‘whirl-paks’ for storing my invertebrate samples. I’ve also had to discard my tent and sleeping bag in favour of a B&B (when visiting a second field site near Perpignan). The RFID readers have encountered (hopefully) their final problem, which means they won’t be ready for me to take to France. No problem really, as I don’t have much space left in my luggage (correction – loads of space but I’ve hit Ryanair’s weight limit, and it’ll be cheaper to post stuff rather than pay £20 per extra kilo)

Here’s a vague plan for the field season, most of which will be spent at a field site near Arles, France (the Vallee des Baux), with a few trips to another site near Perpignan (Roussillon) and a week in Latvia towards to the end:

1. Negotiate access to longterm data sets, including breeding records, nest cavity provisioning & occupation data, colour ring resightings, arrival dates and habitat maps.

2. Retrieve as many geolocators as possible – last year 15 were deployed in Latvia, 14 in Roussillon and 6 in the Vallee des Baux. These will give us information on the winter movements of our populations, which are currently poorly known (but see here for 4 satellite tracked Rollers from Spain)

3. Characterise the relationship between habitat configuration, vegetation structure, arthropod abundance (pitfall traps and sweep netting), foraging behaviour, provisioning rates (PIT tags), chick condition and fledging success.  The idea here is to determine what features of a territory provide good foraging habitat for breeding Rollers, in order to direct conservation management.

4. Collect feather & nail samples in order to analyse the stable isotope signature of the (unknown) non-breeding areas.



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