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The status of Red Knots on spring migration in Varangerfjord, North Norway

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Pages
193 – 198

Published
28 February 15

Authors
Jim Wilson, William Dick, Rachel Leah, Anne Pienkowski, Mike Pienkowski, Barbara J. Swinfen, Roger C. Swinfen, Matt Thomas, Jan van de Kam, Chris Werney

Correspondence
Jim Wilson
jimwils@frisurf.no
Sandneset, 8380 Ramberg, Norway

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We report on the status, timing and connectivity of Red Knots Calidris canutus on spring migration in Varangerfjord, N Norway. Based on data from 2005–2014, we map their distribution and peak numbers at key sites on the north side of the fjord. On the south side of the fjord, there are records of up to 2,000–3,000 in the years 1970–1972 and 1989–1993 at Neiden/Munkefjord, near Kirkenes, but few have been recorded in recent years. The present-day stopover population in Varangerfjord is estimated at 5,000–7,000. There have been almost no knots before 10 May in Varangerfjord in any year and most have left by the end of May, with only a few in the first days of June. There are no data on long-term changes in the size of the stopover population, although it appears that knots have largely deserted the south side of the fjord.

One hundred and three movements of colour-marked knots have been recorded between Porsangerfjord/Lille Porsangerfjord and Varangerfjord, of which 23 are within-season movements to Varangerfjord. Fifty of these birds have been recorded in more than one year (up to six years) in Porsangerfjord/Lille Porsangerfjord and 12 have been recorded in two years in Varangerfjord. We conclude that Varangerfjord can be considered as an extension of the Porsangerfjord/Lille Porsangerfjord complex in terms of the spring stopover of knots in N Norway, although lying 130–200 km to the east, as many movements have been recorded between the two areas. Sightings of 13 knots marked in the Netherlands, one marked in Canada and one in France, together with sightings of 12 Norwegian-marked knots outside Norway, indicate the breeding and non-breeding distribution of Varangerfjord knots is similar to that of the subspecies C. c. islandica, as does the timing of migration. There are no indications that C. c. canutus, breeding in Siberia, pass through Varangerfjord.