Project Name: Southampton Island Shorebird project

Project Location: Southampton Island, Nunavut, Canada,  East Bay Camp operated by Environment Canada

Correspondent researcher: Paul Smith at or Researchers: Paul Smith, Grant Gilchrist, Ron Porter, Oliver Love, Lisa Kennedy

Bibliographic citation: Porter, R. & Smith, P.A. 2013. Techniques to improve the accuracy of location estimation using light-level geolocation to track shorebirds. Wader Study Group Bull.120(3): 147–158.  (RutuEbm01457 analysis example p.156)

WmRutuEbm01457RutuEbm01457: A typical migration 06jul11 deployed Southampton, N45.3xW76.3 14aug11 left Southampton, 39 days later 15aug11 arrived Maine, USA near N43.8xW69.7 02sep11 left Maine, stayed 20 days   flight 4.8d, >4700km, MMS 41km/h, beamwinds 07sep11 arrived French Guiana, N4.9xW52.4 17sep11 left French Guiana, stayed 10 days 19sep11 arrived Maranao, Brazil, S1.3xW45.2 12may12 left Maranao, stayed 263 days flight 3.6d,  >5400km,  MMS 62km/h,  tailwinds 16may12 arrived Delaware Bay, USA  N39.3xW75.4 31may12  left Delaware Bay, stayed 15 days 07sep11 arrived Southampton Island N45.3xW76.3 05jul12, geolocator recovered   WmRutuEbm21232saveAsPic9%22   RutuEbm21232: Elliptical migration Here is shown a change to the Midwest flyway. Do all "Westward Winterers" use the Midwest flyway? Why the eastward loop over the Atlantic Ocean? With more recoveries we hope to answer these questions.



Route variability in Arenaria interpres of Southampton Island

Northbound routes are westerly, southbound routes are easterly. The circular migration takes advantage of favorable prevailing winds. The long oceanic flights have no indications of stops an route.

Arenaria interpres (Rutu, Ruddy Turnstone)

Project Name: Chukotka Shorebird Project

Correspondent researcher: Pavel Tomkovich Researchers: Pavel Tomkovich, Ron Porter, Egor Loktionov, Larry Niles

Bibliographic citation: Tomkovich P.S., Porter R.R., Loktionov E.Y. & L.J. Niles. 2013. Pathways and staging areas of Red Knots Calidris canutus rogersi breeding in southern Chukotka, Far Eastern Russia. Wader Study Group Bull. 120(3): 181–193.

WmReknChu176arrows ReknChu176_1112:  Typical migration

01jul11 deployed Chukotka, N62.6xE177.1 31jul11 left Chukotka, 30 days later 31jul11 arrived Kamchatka, near N60.4xE163.3 09aug10 left Kamchatka, stayed 9 days  flightpath south around peninsula 10aug10 arrived west of Sakhalin, N54.5xE134.8 14aug10 left Sakhalin region, stayed 4 days 16aug10 arrived Eastern Bohai Sea, stayed 6 days then moves west to Bohai Bay 10sep10 left Bohai Bay, stayed 18 days   flight 4.8d, 5800km, MMS 50km/h, mixed winds 15sep10 arrived Australia, near S11.8xE133.2   stays only 4 hours! relocates westward into Carpentaria Bay near S16.5xE141.3  01nov10 left Carpentaria, stayed 46 days 05nov10 arrived New Zealand   19feb11 Resighted in Kaipara Harbour 27mar11 left New Zealand, stayed 143 days   flight 6.9d,  10,100km !! MMS 61km/h, favorable winds 03apr11 arrived Bohai Bay, near N39.0xE119.2   27&28apr11 Resighted near N39.0xE118.4 05may11 left Bohai Bay, stayed 32 days   Relocated west to the coast near Panjin, N40.5xE122.2 20may11 left Panjin area, stayed 15 days 24may11 arrived Chukotka 07jul11 geolocator recovered, 44 days later

Route variability in Calidris canutus of Chukotka

Northbound routes are easterly, southbound routes are westerly.  The long oceanic flights have no indications of stops en  route. Of these 3, two wintered in New Zealand, one in Carpentaria Bay, Australia.


Calidris canutus (Rekn, Red Knot)
These maps were donated by researchers using various analysis methods. The project name, description, and principal contact information are listed by Species. For methods information refer to their published works in the bibliography. Each map title is coded to identify Species, Project, Bird Identification and Years covered by the track. (example: PagpKwa2072_1213 is PacificGoldenPloverKwajaleinBird#2072_2012to2013). If you wish more information about the maps or additional tracks the researcher may have, please contact the principal researchers. Citation for use of the maps is listed in the project decription. Information on geolocation projects may also be obtained by emailing
Geolocator Maps Library

Project Name: Tracking Migrations of Pacific Golden Plovers at Kwajalein Atoll

Correspondent researcher: Wally Johnson at or Researchers: Johnson, O.W., Porter, R.R., Fielding, L., Weber, M.F., Gold, R.S., Goodwill, R.H., Johnson, P.M., Bruner, A.E., Brusseau, P.A., Brusseau, N.H., Hurwitz, K.

Bibliographic citation: Johnson, O.W., 2015. Tracking Pacific Golden-Plovers Pluvialis fulva: transoceanic migrations between non-breeding grounds in Kwajalein, Japan and Hawaii and breeding grounds in Alaska and Chukotka. Wader Study122(1): 4–11.

0WmPagpKwa2072sm   PagpKwa2072_12: the Typical Migration: 28mar12 deployed Kwajalein Atoll, N8.7xE167.7 18apr12 left Kwajalein, 21 days later 21apr12 arrived Japan, near N35.7xE140.9 11may12 left Japan, stayed 19 days 14may12 arrived Alaska,   incubation signals 21 to 28 days 19aug12 left Alaska, stayed 97 days   flight 6.7d, 6000km, MMS38km/h, headwinds 26aug12 arrived Kwajalein 21mar13, geolocator recovered, 207 days later      
WmPagpKwa14597sm   PagpKwa14597: Migration Variant: This Kwajalein migration cycle changes to include a short Chukotka stop of 1 to 4 days northbound, and a diversion at the end of the southbound migration at Enewetak Atoll of duration 17days. Flight weather southbound does not explain this diversion. Is it a navigation error? Why return to Kwajalein? Why not stay at Enewetak?      

Route variability in Pluvialis fulva of Kwajalein Atoll:

Northbound routes are westerly, southbound routes are easterly. The circular migration takes advantage of favorable prevailing winds. The long oceanic flights have no indications of stops en  route.

Pluvialis fulva (Pagp, Pacific Golden Plover)
Around the globe a "eureka" moment happened in 2009, when the New York Times[1] reported the success of Prof. Bridget Stuchbury[2] in Canada. Her successful deployment of lighter-than-ever geolocators on purple martins broadcast that finally there was an instrument small enough for waders. WmLoggerOnPenCloserSm In a short while we were all aware that the first tests on shorebirds were in fact underway, on godwits[3] and red-shanks[4]. Now any researcher who could reliably retrap their target bird could learn in one season what previously took years of study, expeditions to remote places, and cartloads of money. Geolocators can reveal not only locations, but also flight paths, weather/flight interactions, flight speeds, day/night flight patterns, incubation patterns, movements among wintering grounds, new stopover sites, layover time at different stopovers, time spent wandering, and if that's not enough, whether birds frequent open or brushy habitat! In conjunction witWmIntigeoHorizMountDimeSmh wet/dry sensors[5], a picture emerges of time spent foraging, timing of departures and arrivals, direct flights and coastal hopping. Even reactions to capture may be revealed! If many geolocators from the same group are retrieved one can learn how varied these behaviors are among the individuals in the community. How many activities and places do they all share? Did they all depart simultaneously? Take the same route? The information can validate model results (e.g. checking probabilities of detection at stopover sites in a survival model), and guide feather isotope analyses (where the feather grew becomes known), and even describe what the prevalent weather at the site might be. In short, what's to be learned is nothing short of amazing, and at a most reasonable cost[6]. WmCrplChuIntigeoPicSm However, one must be able to reliably retrap the same bird, or one risks wasting all effort and needlessly hurting birds. The first step should always be a flagging study to see how faithful the birds are to the trapping site, and to refine trapping methods. In future, when a remote reading capability is developed, just sneaking a receiver near the bird to read the data may be enough. Until then, the species and deployment sites will be limited. A general discussion on designing geolocator studies with waders is found in the Wader Study Group Bulletin (Clark, et al. 2010, issue 117-3). For very good scientific information regarding geolocation principals, methods, and photos of deployments[7] refer to the BAS[8] Geolocator Manual[9] by James Fox. The Wader Study Group is well schooled in habits and habitat of waders, trapping methods and resighting, and in being practical, so the Wader Study Group is perfectly suited for geolocator use. Waders, by virtue of their open habitat and shoreline preference, do indeed produce almost perfect light signals on the ground and in flight (compared, for example, to thrushes), and provide excellent subjects for individual and group studies. WmIntigeoLightSignalb On this page we will publish a series of short articles to illuminate geolocator details and experiences of researchers. We hope these documents will be a great resource for you, with advice for you on attachment designs, materials testing, known dangers to birds, calibration, trapping, test aviaries, information to record, weather sources, using software, interpretation, refining locations, wet/dry sensor use, arctic signals, and lots more. The first articles, Basic Geolocation and Calibration, will deal with the very basic concepts, and intend to introduce the nomenclature in a way that researchers from many countries and languages will find useful. Readers should be aware that there are advanced methods of analysis which are beyond the current scope of the series. Keep checking this site for updates and new content.   [1] New York Times, Friday, 13 February, 2009 [2] Science, 13 February, 2009, Tracking Long-Distance Songbird Migration by Using Geolocators, Bridget Stutchbury, of York University, Toronto, Canada. [3] Spring 2008, Jesse Conklin & Phil Battley, ref. Wader Study Group Bulletin #117(1) 2010 [4] Spring 2008, Raymond Klaassen and Peter Olsson, Lund University, Netherlands [5] This sensor is included in the MK10 and some other BAS geolocators. [6] Latest pricing about $200 per geolocator plus accessories. [7] as well as analysis details and instructions for use of Bastrak. [8] BAS, British Antarctic Survey, [9]
Introduction to Geolocation
Geolocators are an increasingly popular technology for studying the movements of individual birds. The aims of this new project are twofold:
  1. to communicate the latest advances in field and analytical methods with a specific focus on shorebird conservation and research;
  2. to build an archive of tracks of tagged shorebirds.
Read more about geolocators in this Perspective article that was published in April 2016 in Wader Study. Watch this space as this project develops...
Geolocator Project