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Publication number 61. Stichting WIWO

Title: Breeding waders at Cape Sterlegova, northern Taimyr, in 1994
Author(s): Ingrid Tulp, Hans Schekkerman, Theunis Piersma, Joop Jukema, Petra de Goeij & Jan van de Kam
Publication date: 1998


In the summer of 1994 a Dutch/Russian expedition was undertaken to Cape Sterlegova in northern Taimyr. The expedition period lasted from 10 June until 12 August. Our special interest concerned the energetics of breeding in the high arctic. We studied the cost of incubation (doubly-labelled water method) and nest incubation schedules (by means of radio-tracking) in Knots. After hatching, the energetic of growth in Knot chicks were studied. Other studies undertaken included: monitoring of breeding bird densities in a 12 km2 study area, recording breeding success of waders, recording seasonal abundance of arthropod fauna, trapping and ringing of adult waders.
The study area is located at the base of the Sterlegova near the mouth of the Lenivaya River on the northern shore of Taimyr.
Although 1994 was supposed to be a peak year in the three year lemming cycle, lemmings were very scarce. The few breeding Pomarine and Long-tailed Skuas preyed on eggs and wader chicks in addition to feeding on the few lemmings.
Immediately after the snow melt, arthropods became active. Spiders and springtails dominated in late June. Diptera, the most abundant arthropods, showed their peak in the first two weeks of July.
Most wader species were already present in the study area upon our arrival on 10 June. Numbers of birds seen feeding on snow-free patches increased until 17 June, and fell thereafter as pairs spread out in the tundra and started egg-laying, or moved on to other areas (Curlew Sandpiper). The total density of wader nests was at least 8.5 nest/km2, but is thought to have been closer to 11 nests/km2, because several nests stayed unnoticed. The most abundant species were Knot (14 nests and 11 additional broods), Turnstone (16 nests, 5 broods) and Grey Plover (16 nests, 2 broods). Other waders breeding in the area were Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Little Stint, Purple Sandpiper and Curlew sandpiper.
Due to predation by the Arctic Fox, nest survival was very low in the eastern half of the study area, but it was better in the western part.
In total 58 adult waders and 165 chiks were caught and ringed.
The studies on energetics of breeding in Knots will be reported separately in scientific papers, and only a short overview is given in this report.

The report contains chapters on:
  • Description of area and wheather
  • Lemmings and lemming predators
  • Arthropod fauna
  • Arrival of waders
  • Breeding birds
  • Biometrics of adult birds
  • Knot studies - an overview
  • Avifaunistic notes and migration observations