conservation, Expeditions and Travels, Science

Machi and Goshen’s last flight to Guadeloupe was not forgotten



The attached video by Amanda Dey, starts with shots fired at shorebirds in a shooting swamp on the French island of Guadeloupe

. It was at this site that two whimbrels were shot last year. The two birds, named Machi and Goshen, were outfitted with satellite transmitters by William and Mary Biologists Bryan Watts and Flecher Smith.

The two whimbrels fought different storms, one a hurricane, the other a tropical storm, to reach safety on Guadeloupe, as do thousands of other shorebirds including red knots, ruddy turnstones, greater and lesser yellowlegs, golden plovers and more. Upon arrival they eventually flew to the swamps which are often ringed by hunters pursuing the traditional sport hunting of shorebirds on the island. Both whimbrels were killed. Flectcher Smith later retrieved the satellite transmitters.

Machi: Researchers attach a transmitter to Machi in August, 2009. She was netted on the Eastern Shore and tracked for more than 27,000 miles. Photo by Bart Paxton, Center for Conservation Biology

While we were there last week, we learned from biologists working for the French National Hunting and Wildlife Agency, that the event was significant to them because it highlighted the killing of shorebirds desperate to make landfall in a way the agency couldn’t. The incident initiated an uproar heard across the Atlantic by the French National Hunting and Wildlife agency who implemented new regulations this year and promises more.