Since 2011 I work as a technician for the Spoonbill project of METAWAD, based at the Conservation Ecology Group of the University of Groningen, and the Royal NIOZ on Texel. I was trained as a biologist at the University of Amsterdam where I did my Masters on the feeding ecology of Spoonbills. After that I worked for the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Nature Conservation on a recovery plan for Spoonbills. Via my PhD research on Red Knots and their main prey Macoma balthica, and Ruff- and Black-tailed Godwit research in South-west Fryslân, I am back to my old ‘’love’’.

The Spoonbill project is a co-operation between the University of Groningen and the Dutch Spoonbill Working Group: Werkgroep Lepelaar.  The demography of Spoonbills is followed through an international colour-marking program (example of the schemes we use can be found here).

Every year, on all Dutch Wadden Sea islands, Spoonbills are colour-ringed, measured and a blood sample is taken for sex determination and isotopes analyses. Isotopes help us to find out what the diet of Spoonbills is. Also in additional colonies on the Dutch mainland, Spoonbills are colour-ringed. Re-sightings by hundreds of volunteers all along the flyway show their migration routes and wintering sites. Since 2012, we have issued UVA-bits GPS-loggers to adult and juvenile Spoonbills to follow their whereabouts while breeding, feeding and migrating.

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A foraging Spoonbills in the Wadden Sea. Photo: Jan van de Kam