New: GPS-tracker with SMS

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

In the past year we have developed a new type of tracker.  On 15 May 2015, a protoype was fitted on a spoonbill and we are now happy to share the first results with you.

The tracker has the same functionality as all other UvA-BiTS trackers, but in addition it also has an option to send SMS messages. The SMS is not replacing the downloading of data with the base station and relay network. It is only meant to send a few GPS locations per day. This can be very useful if a bird disperses beyond the reach of the antenna network, like Ronny did (read here). Three years after tagging, Ronny was spotted by a birder at about 140 km away from the location where it was released. Ben Koks took the car and downloaded all the data at its nest. Without the birder, we would never have known. With the GPS- SMS you know where your bird is. When your bird dies or when it loses its tracker you may even be able to find the tracker back if it is within the reach of the GSM antenna network. Because sending an sms needs quite some power, it is not possible to have the SMS function on the 2C-trackers but only on the 5C, 6C trackers with batteries of at least 220 mAh ( The weight is 5 gram extra for the 5CDLeGSM and 4 gram extra for the 6CDLeGSM.

The programming of the SMS is rather flexible. It is possible to send a certain number of messages per day with 3 or 4 positions in each message. A time block allows you to start and stop the messages at selected days. All GPS positions that are sent by SMS are automatically uploaded to the data base.

The spoonbill 1606 is a male that was caught on the nest on the Waddenisland Schiermonnikoog and tagged by Petra de Goeij and Theunis Piersma. It stayed on Schiermonnikoog and around the Lauwersmeer until 8 September. Fig 1A shows its whereabouts and the locations where it has sent SMS messages. Figure 1B shows the coverage of the antenna network around the island. It is clear that messages were also sent where the coverage was not optimal.

Figure 1A tracks of the spoonbill 1606 (lines) and locations where it has sent sms messages (points). Figure 1B the coverage of the network.

On the 8th of September it started to migrate and with some stopovers in Zeeland and Bretagne it reached the south coast of Spain where it seemed to have a good time in one of the tidal rivers right in between greenhouses with strawberries. On the 15th of October it left Spain and it is currently in the south of Morocco.
In case it continues to migrate further south we will update this web page again.

Figure 2A tracks of the spoonbill 1606 until October 31st, 2B between the strawberries east of Huelva, 2C the stopover in a tidal river in the south of Morocco.

Latest Highlights