Tracking Tristan skuas
Tristan skuas are Gough Island's top predator and make the most of the rich supply of prions and burrowing petrels during the summer months. They oversee island operations from atop of a bog-fern or a boulder and will make their presence known with a series of sharp cries if you get too close. As winter approaches, many of Gough skuas leave the island and head out into the open ocean to feed. But where exactly do they go?
To understand their at sea foraging behaviours, the field team on Gough in collaboration with Prof. Peter Ryan from the Fitzpatrick Institute of Ornithology (University of Cape Town) deployed geolocators on ten breeding adults this week. Catching a skua is no easy task. For several weeks the team kept an on the different pair's territories, who had built nests and who had laid eggs. Using a long-handled pole net one member of the selected breeding pair was caught and adorned with a tiny geolocator.
Now we wait. This time next year the team will re-visit each skuas territory, hoping to find tracked bird and uncover their winter secrets.