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Winds at departure shape seasonal patterns of nocturnal bird migration over the North Sea

Citation

Bradarić, Maja et al. (2020), Winds at departure shape seasonal patterns of nocturnal bird migration over the North Sea, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.0rxwdbrxb

Abstract

On their migratory journeys, terrestrial birds can come across large inhospitable areas with limited opportunities to rest and refuel. Flight over these areas poses a risk especially when wind conditions en route are adverse, in which case inhospitable areas can act as an ecological barrier for terrestrial migrants. Thus, within the East-Atlantic flyway, the North Sea can function as an ecological barrier. The main aim of this study was to shed light on seasonal patterns of bird migration in the southern North Sea and determine whether departure decisions on nights of intense migration were related to increased wind assistance. We measured migration characteristics with a radar that was located 18 km off the NW Dutch coast and used simulation models to infer potential departure locations of birds on nights with intense nocturnal bird migration. We calculated headings, track directions, airspeeds, groundspeeds on weak and intense migration nights in both seasons and compared speeds between seasons. Moreover, we tested if departure decisions on intense migration nights were associated with supportive winds. Our results reveal that on the intense migration nights in spring, the mean heading was towards E, and birds departed predominantly from the UK. On intense migration nights in autumn, the majority of birds departed from Denmark, Germany and north of the Netherlands with the mean heading towards SW. Prevailing winds from WSW at departure were supportive of a direct crossing of the North Sea in spring. However, in autumn winds were generally not supportive, which is why many birds exploited positive wind assistance which occurred on intense migration nights. This implies that the seasonal wind regimes over the North Sea alter its migratory dynamics which is reflected in headings, timing and intensity of migration.

Usage Notes

The data published is not the data collected by the radar used in the related study. The radar data is the ownership of private companies and therefore cannot be shared with general public without permission. To obtain the data as recorded by the radar, please contact Ruben Fijn (r.c.fijn@buwa.nl).

The data provided here is the output of a trajectory model described in the related study and it represents wind conditions and bird migration information at estimated bird departure areas.

Additional information is available in the attached readme.txt file. 

Funding

Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek, Award: 17083

Rijkswaterstaat - Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, Award: 31128362

Rijkswaterstaat - Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, Award: 31128362