In a previous life I worked as a molecular biologist, now I devote my time to fieldwork on Ruff. Since 2011 I have visited the RUG study area in Friesland, to investigate the spring migration of Ruff, with support of Theunis Piersma. In spring 2014 and 2015 I joined Team Piersma as a field assistant for the Ruff project. Discussions with Theunis and members of his team have been inspiring and stimulating to develop my long-term study of the Ruff.

I am especially interested in behavior of Ruff during the lekking season. Studying the birds staging in Friesland, on their way to the breeding grounds in the sub-arctic, may help understand their unique mating system. The open Frisian landscape, the large flocks of geese, and the sound of displaying black-tailed godwits and lapwings are nice bonuses.

When I first visited Friesland, several ten thousands of staging Ruff were already a thing of the past, but a single flock of two-three thousand birds could still be seen each spring. The last few years, numbers of staging Ruff have declined dramatically again. I hope to help understand if, and how, local conditions have contributed to this worrying decline.Raf_Ruff

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