Since 2013 I have worked in the study area of the University of Groningen, with support of Theunis Piersma, to investigate the spring migration of Ruffs in Friesland. In spring 2014 and 2015, I joined the Piersma Team as a field assistant for the Ruff project, and returned each year since then.

Although I was a molecular biologist in my earlier professional career (Researchgate profile Raf Vervoort), my current work is exclusively based on field observation of birds in the wild. Discussions with Theunis and his team members have been inspiring and stimulating to develop my long-term study of the Ruff.

I am interested in behavior of Ruffs during the lekking season, and hope to find answers to some of my questions through observation of the birds on their way to the breeding grounds, including in Friesland.

The agricultural landscape is changing quickly in Friesland, and the number of staging Ruff has declined severely during the last decades. Bird study in a deteriorating area can be depressing, but it is also a motivation to unravel the habitat requirements of the species.

Raf_Ruff
Observation of this male Ruff in Sweden was my first introduction to the Ruff project of Team Piersma. Drawing by R. Vervoort