Tracking Guillemots with Project LOMVIA

11 July, 2019

The Project LOMVIA team continue their work tracking guillemots of the remote cliff of Látrabjarg, Iceland. Post-doctoral researcher Dr Anne-Sophie Bonnet-Lebrun explains more.

Tagging and tracking seabirds

Our fieldwork is coming to an end I’m pleased to say it has been a very successful season. The team worked hard, refining their guillemot tagging skills along the way. In total out of 73 GPS and depth recorders deployed here in Látrabjarg, we recovered loggers from 64 birds – 33 common guillemots and 31 Brunnich’s guillemots.

During the tracking, our study site focused on relatively accessible ledges so we could tag and observe the guillemots. This meant that we had only seen a fraction of the amazing 14km-long Látrabjarg cliffs. To celebrate the end of the tracking, our small team took the chance to visit the highest point on the cliffs and take in the stunning view of thousands of nesting fulmars – it really is such an amazing place. Being able to see where the birds have travelled to collect food and how the species interact using the data collected from the loggers is extremely rewarding.

Arctic tern perched on a sign to Látrabjarg: our study site. Photo: Kayleigh Jones

Focus on food

During the final few days, we switched our focus to diet studies. This involves observing various ledges during 1-hour sessions to examine which fish species the guillemots bring to their chicks – here in Látrabjarg, it looks like these fluffy little ones get fed a lot of sand eels. We also assisted co-investigator Dr Thomas Larsen from the Max Planck Institute, who was collecting cod samples from local fishermen. Using these samples, Dr Larsen and colleagues will examine what the cod from around Iceland eat. As some of the prey is also found in the guillemot’s diet this knowledge may help us understand if there are certain regions our Látrabjarg guillemots favour for collecting food.

That’s all for us, in a few days we will all enjoy a bit of exploring of this incredible country before returning with the data.

Guillemots brooding their chicks on a rocky ledge at Látrabjarg, Iceland. Photo: Anne-Sophie Bonnet-Lebrun