555 Zenbakia 2010-11-19 / 2010-11-26


The Recovery of Araba’s PTT in Karelia (I/II)

TOBAR-ARBULU, Joseba Felix

The Recovery of Araba’s PTT in Karelia (II/II)

Abstract. In our third experiment about the tracking of the Scolopax rusticola in 2008, Araba’s PTT kept emitting up to October 20th. We knew that the bird was dead or its PTT detached, since the activity sensor was without changing during all the last emissions. We try to recover that PTT in 2008 with the help of MTI and of some researchers. But there was no way to get it.

In September 2009, with the help of some organizations and of some researchers we tried a new approach to find that PTT.

Finally, using a special methodology developed some time ago by Paul Howey (MTI) and with the invaluable help of very good friends, we recovered the PTT. 1. Introduction

As Bernd Meyburg writes1,

“Rings or transmitters? In some ringing records publications ST [Satellite Telemetry] is discussed and it is pointed out that despite this technique ringing is still necessary. This gives the impression that the two methods are in competition with one another. We would like to make it clear that this is far from being the case. On the contrary, both methods complement one another. (...)”

“VHF or UHF telemetry? VHF telemetry (VHF = Very High Frequency, 30 to 300 MHz), also called conventional or ground telemetry has been available for much longer than ST or UHF telemetry (UHF = Ultra High Frequency, > 300 MHz). (...)VHF and UHF telemetry can however complement each other. Ideally both methods can be employed simultaneously when, for example, the behaviour in the breeding area is to be studied in detail. VHF telemetry is however unsuitable for migration studies.”

Furthermore, as we have proved in Karelia, VHF telemetry is the real good method to find lost PTTs. 2. Data given by Araba’s PTT in Rantala

As said in a previous paper2, Araba’s PTT gave data3 up to October, 2008.

From September 14th on, in all the different emissions the activity sensor did not change: the bird was dead and/or his PTT detached.

Here the last data given in October (2008):

2nd (Z loc.), 7th (A loc.), 17th (Z loc.), 20th4 (Z loc.).

After being some months without emitting5, the PTT started again emitting on May 5th, 2009.

Here its emissions:

In May:

5th (A loc.), 13th (B loc.), 15th (1 loc.), 18th (B loc.), 20th (2 loc.), 23rd (A loc.), 25th (A loc.), 28th (1 loc.), 30th (2 loc.).

In June:

2nd (2 loc.), 4th (B loc.), 7th (B loc.), 9th (3 loc.), 12th (B loc.), 15th (Z loc.), 17th (B loc.), 20th (Z loc.), 22nd (A loc.), 25th (B loc.), 27th (A loc.), 30th (B loc.).

In July:

2nd (A loc.), 5th (A loc.), 7th (1 loc.), 10th (B loc.), 12th (2 loc.), 15th (B loc.), 17th (A loc.), 20th (0 loc.), 23rd (B loc.).

In August:

2nd (B loc.), 4th (Z loc.), 7th (B loc.), 9th (2 loc.), 12th (A loc.), 14th (Z loc.), 17th (Z loc.), 20th (Z loc.), 22nd (2 loc.), 27th (A loc.), 30th (B loc.).

In September:

1st (Z loc.), 4th (Z loc.), 4th (Z loc.), 6th (B loc.), 9th (B loc.), 11th (Z loc.), 14th (1 loc.), 19th (2 loc.), 24th (A loc.), 27th (Z loc.)6, 29th (Z loc.)7.


1) In all the data given in 2009 the activity sensor was without changing.

2) On September 27th the emission had a single message.

3) We had a single chance8 to find the PTT: the emission given on September 29th. 3. In search of Araba’s PTT

We decided to try and find Araba’s PTT with the help of many different people and organizations.

a) Organizations: the CCB itself, FEDENCA, IREC, plus MTI.

b) Contacts via internet: Dr. Nikita Chernetsov, Dr. Mikhail (Misha) Markovets and Mr Sergey Ponomarev.

c) Contacts in Suojarvi, Karelia: Dr. Alexandr Artemjev and his son Ilya and Mr Valery Shpilevoi.

d) Basque team: Pablo González, Rubén Ibañez, Adolfo Cruz Iglesias, David Rubio, Ibon Teletxea and Joseba Felix Tobar-Arbulu. 4. Main steps for the recovery of the PTT

Here the outline of the main steps for the recovery of Araba’s PTT (ID 83300).

4. 1. Before going to Suojarvi, Karelia

(a) Methodology for the recovery

The methodology used was designed by Paul Howey (MTI)9.

(b) Proofs

Some proofs were performed with Laguna-2’s PTT (ID 83297)10. That PTT was put in different places, then trying to ‘locate’ it: with the scanner plus the Yagi antenna, only with the small antenna of the scanner, without any antenna at all, with different frequencies (above and below the frequency the PTT emitted), silencing the scanner in different positions and so on and so forth...

(c) Locations

We had a good location given by Argos on June 10th: a 3 class location, and some more 2 class locations.

83300 Date : 10.06.09 01:12:40 LC : 3 IQ : 60

Lat1 : 62.361N Lon1 : 32.143E Lat2 : 64.623N Lon2 : 19.891E

Note: Take care of the forest road among the different locations.

We did know, since last year (2008) that the PTT was close to Rantala in the surroundings of Suojarvi:



(d) Contacts through internet

With the help of Dr. Nikita Chernetsov, we contacted Dr. Mikhail (Misha) Markovets and with Misha’s help a friend of his born in Suojarvi: Sergey Ponomarev.

Misha gave us two clues: Rantala (Рантала in Russian: 62°22’00’N 32°07’00’’E) northwest from Suojarvi (Суоярви in Russian: 61°33’00’’N30°12’00’’E).

Sergey told us that Rantala was the Finnish name of a kind of small village or of a big farm.

Misha sent us a map of Karelia. (See map below to locate ‘Rantala’.)

Sergey and Misha sent us a different map of Rantala.

So, we were able to ‘locate’ the real Rantala and the possible position of the PTT in that map.

Furthermore, Nikita and Misha gave us the crucial man’s name: Dr. Alexandr Artemjev, of Petrozavodsk.

4. 2. In Suojarvi, Karelia

(a) Data given by the PTT when we were traveling from Saint Petersburg to Suojarvi

83300 Date : 27.09.09 08:51:07 LC : Z IQ : 00

(Note: We knew that datum, a single message!!!, on September 27th, at night)

(b) In Suojarvi

After meeting Alexandr and his son Ilya, we went towards Rantala in two cars with GPS and the scanner (just in case).

Note: ‘Rantala’ is up on the left.

Note: Take into account the small forest road from the first square on the left towards Bumacapa. Also, before reaching Bumacapa, in perpendicular to the forest road on the right, the space is with no river at all.

Note: Look at the bridge inside the second square from the right.

Problem. The forest road which could bring us to Rantala was cut: the bridge over the river was broken... From that point up to the 3 class location: 10 kilometers.

We changed plans and went through another forest road up to a point where the road was divided into two mini roads. Distance from that point to the 3 class location: 7 kilometers.

We decided to do that on foot, to walk. It was raining... 7 kilometers to reach the 3 class location and another 7 kilometers to come back to the cars...

With the help of the GPS we fixed the 3 class location’s coordinates in the forest:

We took a rest in the forest road. We fixed that point on the forest road too.

Distance from the forest-road fixed point to the 3 class location coordinates: 356 meters (see below).

(c) D day

(c-1) Interesting data

1) Used methodology: “Finding a lost PTT-Part 2”, explained by Paul Howey.11

2) Kind of scanner: ALINCO-DJ-X3.

3) Frequencies: Main frequency12: 401.682. Upper frequency: 401.687. Lower frequency: 401.675.

4) Time the PTT was emitting: around 3 hours and a half.

(c-2) PTT’s emission

We knew the emission given by the PTT on Sept. 27th:

83300 Date : 27.09.09 08:51:07 LC : Z IQ : 00

So, we thought about two possibilities: (i) The emission was given at the beginning of the cycle or (ii) at the end.

We calculated the possible beginning of the emissions in those two cases:

Either the PTT would start emitting at 15:51 UTC (19:51 local hour) or at 23:51 UTC (3:51 local hour).

We had to plan to stay in the forest from 19:51 (Sept. 30th) up to the end of the possible emission in the second case: 3:51 + 8 = 11:51 (Oct. 1st).

So, around 16 hours in the forest... We needed special clothes, sleeping bags, food, tea, vodka13,...

(c-3) Approach to the point

We arrived by car, along a new forest road that was not in the maps, at the point market the day before at around 19:30. Set up the Yagi antenna, and around 19:55/20.00 the scanner started to receive good signals. So, we did know, at that moment, that we would not spend the whole night searching for the grail. At most, eight more hours... Good start!

Moving the Yagi in all directions, we realized that the best signal was done in a direction almost perpendicular to the line between our position in the forest road by the car and the 3 class location fixed the day before.

We started walking along the forest road in the direction the Yagi antenna market, and reached a point where all the different signals were ‘too good’: so, we needed to do something to differentiate the signals given in different positions.

Without the Yagi antenna, and with the help of the small antenna the scanner had, we marked some specific points on the road. In this way, we were able to locate a space where the PTT could be: two clear positions, around 20 meters from one to the other, in which the signals clearly changed.

Main frequency: 401.687

In order to know the possible area where the PTT were, we left the road and went into the forest: 10 steps. The same on the other side of the forest road: 10 steps into the forest.

Taking into account the changes of the signals while playing with different frequencies (the main and good frequency of the emission of the PTT, one frequency above that and another one below that), we were able to ‘locate’ the PTT inside an square of about 15 x 15 meters.

Then we performed a similar proof walking 5 steps into the forest from both sides of the forest road. Now without the small antenna of the scanner and also changing the frequencies.

Lower frequency: 401.675

The square was of about 10 x 10 meters. Taking into account the size of the forest road, we said, without any doubt at all, that the PTT were in a rectangle of about 2 x 3 meters in one side of the forest road or on the other side.

With the scanner in silence, in different positions, being inside the forest, getting the signals while being looking at the road or given the back to the road, after a lot of measures, we decided, without any doubt at all, that the PTT must be in a particular side of the road, and not in the other. The decision was very clear. We spent a lot of time: more than half an hour to take that decision: making all the possible changes in the scanner: in silence —scale from 1 to 10—; changing the sensibility: 5 different degrees of potency,etc...

Since we could see the floor, the surface of the forest road with a light, we decided that the PTT were in a rectangle of about 2 x 3 meters.

With a not very good light14, we started to look inside that rectangle. We saw PTTs everywhere: all the leaves were wet and with the bad help of the light (and our imagination!) the PTTs appeared everywhere.

There were two small fir trees, and we took off their tips to be even surer about the real position of the PTT. We felt that the PTT was under our own noses, that it could bite us...

So, we decided to stop its finding and come back the next day in the morning, to pick up the PTT; to pick up it, since we were 100% sure that the PTT was ‘there’.

(The PTT finished emitting at around 11:15 local hour, so it was emitting around 3 hours and 20/25 minutes. Just the time we needed to locate it. No more and no less!)

Since the other team went to catch woodcocks, previously we have decided to wait until they came to start dinner. We thought that they would appear around one o’clock in the early morning, mid night. So, we were some time waiting for them. There were no communication, no mobile coverage. We did know nothing about each other.

When the second team arrived, and before having dinner (later than mid-night!), all of us went to the ‘rectangle’ to show our friends the situation of the small fir trees. We decided to come back the next day, and go dinner, not to step on the PTT.

Alexandr and Ilya were looking for it between the two fir trees. We told both of them 5 (five) times to leave the place and come to have dinner. They ignored us!

Two minutes later, Alexandr and Ilya, Ilya and Alexandr gave us the news: “Here it is”.

1 See Meyburg, B.-U. and C. Meyburg (2009) Wanderung mit Rucksack: Satellitentelemetrie bei Vögeln.

2 See Scolopax Rusticola without frontiers; see also “Scolopax rusticola without frontiers: Araba from the Basque Country to Karelia”, paper to be presented in Rabocheostrovsk, in 2010.

3 In all these data the activity sensor was without changing.

4 Last emission given by Araba’s PTT in 2008.

5 After so many months without emitting, here is the PTT working and with very good charge. The performance of the new PTTs with the new technology used by MTI is really good. Congratulations MTI people!

6 Data given when we were travelling to Suojarvi. (We did know that datum on September 27th, at night.)

7 Last data given by the PTT in Rantala. (Data given when we were physically very close to the PTT, trying to find it. At that moment, we did not know this datum.)

8 On October 2nd we have to leave Suojarvi early in the morning for the trip to come back home.

9 See

10 Proofs performed by Ibon and Rubén using Paul’s methodology.

11 See

12 Here some of the frequencies of the different locations of the PTT given by Argos: 401 682591.3 Hz; 401 682771.3 Hz; 401 682754.5 Hz; 401 682692.6 Hz; 401 682675.0 Hz; 401 682701.2 Hz; 401 682636.9 Hz; 401 682549.2 Hz; 401 682781.5 Hz; 401 682754.4 Hz; 401 682747.6 Hz; 401 682757.6 Hz; 401 682794.3 Hz; 401 682790.8 Hz; 401 682812.4 Hz; 401 682757.6 Hz; 401 682770.4 Hz;...

13 All these things and much more were provided by Valery Shpilevoi, the owner of the guest house in which we stayed in Suojarvi. Valery took our project as his own.

14 The good lights were with the other team, catching woodcocks. They saw one and caught it.

The Recovery of Araba’s PTT in Karelia (II/II)

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