What, where, when & how
This unique research, aims to study the behavior and movement of birds in their traditional wintering grounds around the lakes of Shabla and Durankulak in Bulgaria and also to track their migration routes.
Telemetry is a modern method for studying bird movements and BSPB is an innovator in this field in Bulgaria. Over the past four years teams of BSPB and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) have carried out four successful cannon nettings of Red-breasted geese in order to deploy GPS (radio data loggers) and satellite transmitters. The nettings took place in Jan 2011, Feb 2013, Jan & Feb 2014.
The project uses two different tag technologies to track the Red-breasted Geese movements. GPS loggers gather detailed information on the location of birds in the study area during the winter months. Satellite tags make it possible to trace the migration of geese throughout their journey to Siberia. This is a key stage in the nearly 20 -year study of Red-breasted Goose performed by BSPB in Coastal Dobrudzha. Not surprisingly, reports of our success appeared in many European conservation journals and made headlines in mainstream media in the UK.
After the geese leave the project area we lose touch with the GPS transmitters, but we still get information from the satellite transmitters. We rely on them to show locations of geese along their migration route to their breeding sites, in order to advise on conservation methods.
A reassuring amount of information was collected from the marked Red-breasted Geese over 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Data from the transmitters show that after the end of the hunting season in late January geese remain mainly on wheat fields adjacent to the lakes. With one or two exceptions, geese usually do not spend the night at sea in February (as they do to avoid disturbance during the hunting season). This indicates the influence of hunting on the behavior of geese.
One of the objects of deploying GPS transmitters is to collect detailed information about the behavior of the geese in the area, how they use their roosts and feeding grounds, and to determine the height and velocity of flight. The information collected in practice allows us to "look in the bedroom" of geese and learn important details of their life and behavior - how far they fly to graze, when do they "go to sleep", when do they go to "have breakfast", and what places they avoid. We will know all this by analyzing the data collected.