Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The transmitters and accuracy of tracking

The transmitter itself is quite small (9.5 g) and is fitted like a backpack using Teflon ribbon (because it is very smooth and does not degrade). These tags are solar powered. The picture to the right is of Sheeba wearing her satellite tag. Marion is just preparing to finish the harness by crimping the metal clamp and cutting off the excess harness material.

The need for a very small transmitter means we can not use the GPS system of satellites to determine the location of the bird, and so location accuracy is not as good as GPS. In the best cases the accuracy is within a few hundred metres, although sometimes locations are a couple of km out. The map above is for Sinbad during 2-6 October. Sinbad has probably not yet left the nest as is certainly not flying, though he may have stood out from under the roof of the nest. Although the potential inaccuracies seem like a lot, they aren't really that great when you think of the scale at which we will be working during the year. These birds (if they and their transmitters survive) will be tracked to their wintering grounds (probably) on Madagascar, and then as they move around and perhaps settle as breeders over the next few years.

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