Why are there so many of these tiny waders this year? Some studies suggest that the breeding success of little stints and curlew sandpipers may be related to the abundance of lemmings (Lemmus lemmus). When there are few lemmings, predatory birds like e.g. skuas and snowy owls take many little stints and curlew sandpipers, but when lemmings are abundant, they prefer the lemmings. It is well known from all over Scandinavia that 2011 has been an extraordinary good lemming year http://nordlysfoto.blogspot.com/2011/05/norwegian-lemmings-lemenar.html with unusually many breeding pairs of Snowy Owls and other species that depend on the lemmings and maybe this is, at least part, of the reason why these two species are so abuntant this year?
A quick look on the Norwegian report system for birds: http://artsobservasjoner.no/fugler/ shows that the number of "expected reports" for these two species (compared to the number of reports from the same period from earlier years (2007 - ), have increased by 88% and 59% for curlew sandpipers and little stints respectively.
Other species such as dunlins, ringed plovers, ruffs, spotted redshanks, redshanks and sanderlings (and an occasional crazy bird-watcher) may also be seen on the mudflats around Tromsø..
Flock of Little Stints on Kvaløya, Norway
Is there a connection between some Arctic Waders and Norwegian Lemmings (Lemmus lemmus)?