A small catch . Tierra del Fuego 2011
Our first few days have been difficult but productive. In most years the knots and godwits on the western side of Bahia Lomas occur almost entirely at the southern end. Over the years we have learned that we cannot catch shorebirds with cannon nets in this area of the bay because the 30 ft tide and the huge 6 kilometer intertidal sand and mudflat make it nearly impossible to predict where the tide will crest. If we set too low the net will be flooded, too high and the birds will be out of the catch area.
There is one site with a steep beach where we can predict the tide. Megellanic Oystercatchers, knots and godwits like to roost at this place where two eroded hills protect the beach from the frequent strong winds of the area. The birds only like it because there is a small gap between the hills that allows a wide view and some forewarning of a hungry peregrine or aplomado falcon. Years ago, when we first started working on Bahia Lomas, a pair of aplomado falcons nested in the cliff face of the hills. They have been absent for years. Unfortunately for us , and the shorebirds, they are back.
On our first day on the bay we counted 4900 red knots and about 7000 hudsonian godwits, about the same as in previous years. There were no red knots at the twin hills site, but there were on the second so we set our nets on the third. We fired over knots but the net went out too fast and we made only a small catch of Magellanic Oystercatchers and hudsonian godwits. All of the red knots at the outside end of the catch area escaped before the net fell to the ground.
We were fortunate to have as our guests Roberto Navarrete and Ninoska Luna and their two lovely Emilio and tiny little Clemente. We failed to catch knot but still had a good experience. We have only enough gunpowder for two more tries.