Further evidence of transatlantic migration routes and Pacific wintering grounds of Red-necked Phalaropes breeding in Shetland

Published on 04 August 2018 in Main articles

By Malcolm Smith, Mark Bolton, David Okill, Phil Harris, George Petrie, Roger Riddington and Jeremy Wilson

Abstract Until recently, the migration route and wintering areas of Red-necked Phalaropes Phalaropus lobatus breeding in Scotland was a matter of speculation, since no foreign ringing recoveries existed for this population. In 2013, a male fitted with a geolocator the previous year was retrapped on its breeding grounds in Shetland. Data from the tag revealed that the bird had followed a westerly migration route, crossing the Atlantic to North America and travelling south to winter in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of South America – the first recorded instance of a European breeding bird wintering in the Pacific. From just one individual it could not be established whether this migration route was exceptional or representative of the wider Scottish population. Here we report the tracking of two further males that followed a closely similar route. We infer that the transatlantic migration and Pacific wintering grounds of Red-necked Phalaropes breeding in Shetland is more likely to be the rule than the exception, although tracking of females is required to clarify whether they follow a similar route.

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Male Red-necked Phalarope Phalaropus lobatus, Fetlar, Shetland, June 2017. Roger Riddington