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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wind turbine quackery (video added)

Tracking Ducks to Make Offshore Wind Decisions

Small satellite transmitters are being implanted
in the abdominal cavities adult female eiders.
(Photo courtesy of URI)
By News staff
KINGSTON — Biologists from the University of Rhode Island, the state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and other agencies have implanted satellite transmitters in sea ducks to learn about the birds’ daily movements and identify important wintering locations.

This data will be used when government officials and offshore wind farm developers make decisions about where to site wind turbines. This information also will be used to assess how the birds’ movements are affected once the turbines are erected.

“We’re trying to identify hot spots of bird use, the places you wouldn’t want to put the wind farms,” said Scott McWilliams, a URI professor of natural resources science.
“We want to minimize the potential impact of offshore wind turbines on our wintering ducks,” DEM biologist Jay Osenkowski said. “This telemetry project will help us track their movements around Rhode Island waters and identify the locations of their key foraging habitat.”
The biologists are focusing their efforts on common eider, a large sea duck that is abundant along the Rhode Island coast in winter and which nest along the coast of Maine and Canada.  Last year, scientists conducted a similar study of black scoters, another sea duck for which Rhode Island provides important wintering habitat.
Well before dawn in November and December, McWilliams and Osenkowski, along with URI professor Peter Paton, URI graduate student Josh Beuth, and research associates and biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, set up a series of long nets on floats in locations the birds are known to visit.
“We set the nets up in the dark, put decoys around the nets, and hope that we picked the right spot based on previous scouting efforts,” McWilliams said. “There’s usually a lot of action early in the morning before the birds can see the nets well.”
Any male eiders the scientists captured were released. Adult females were brought to shore, where veterinarian Glenn Olsen from the U.S. Geological Survey implanted small satellite transmitters in their abdominal cavities. After a short recovery period, the ducks were released back where they were captured.
“Female ducks have all the power,” Paton said. “They’re the ones who pick the nest site, and the males follow them there. That’s why we are only tracking females. Their survival is what is important when monitoring populations.”
The biologists implanted satellite transmitters in 26 female eiders. Each bird’s daily movements will be monitored throughout the winter, and data about migratory movements, stopover sites and breeding territories will be collected.
“We’ll get information about key areas that eiders like in Rhode Island and wherever else they travel,” McWilliams said.
The data the scientists collect from the ducks will be analyzed and factored into offshore wind turbine siting decisions.