In July 2017 we put 10 geolocators on the colony of Ortac as a partner project to T.A.G.
The geolocators weigh just 1g and are about half the size of a penny, attaching to a colour ring on the Gannets leg. For such small pieces of technology they are quite sophisticated, containing a battery (lasting up to two years), small computer, clock and memory. They use light levels to work out the geographical location of the bird by looking at light levels throughout the day, which can determine latitude and longitude. The data is then stored and will, once downloaded, create a map of where the birds have been. Temperature is recorded, which can help find the altitude birds are flying and pinpointing the birds location more accurately. Finally the geolocators record wet/dry and conductivity, showing whether the water is salty so how much time the birds spend on the coast salty (not so useful for Gannets which do not fly over land) and how long the birds are spending on the water.
The geolocators last up to two years gathering data. In summer 2019 we hope to recapture the birds with geolocators on Ortac, this is not as difficult as it may sound because the Gannets have bright colour rings which are easily spotted on the colony. Once we get the geolocators back we should then be able to download their data to show where they went on migration and whether birds from our colony went to the same areas or separated.
The 10 sponsors of our geolocators named their birds and for 2017 we have:
We are looking forward to having a look at the mapped journeys in summer!