Sutton River – We struck out on a Arctic new adventure today. As an early morning fog cleared, Ed flew into our base camp to take Kathy, Sherry, Bruno, Bruce and myself on a 500 mile search for more instrumented birds. It was a tough decision to go on with the flight after finding only 2 instrumented birds in Southampton Island. We expected more, and feared there might be transmitter failures or problems with the glue that attaches the transmitters to birds. Flying would be costly so we weren’t sure whether to take the risk. We decided to go ahead and left the Camp at about 10:30 a.m. After making a fuel stop in Coral Harbor we began our search.
North Southampton Island – By 1:00 we had our first bird. We found it in the northern portion of Southampton Island we had skipped in our first survey. We were flying at 8500 feet in preparation to cross Roes Welcome Sound, a precaution that will allow us to glide to land in case the engine fails. We kept going but marked the location for a search on our return flight.
King William Island – We crossed nearly 500 miles of unsuitable tundra making a straight line for King William Island. We landed at Gjoe Haven to report our flight plan. Within minutes after taking off we found our first bird. An hour later we had found 3 other birds and firmly established Delaware Bay knots on King William Island.
Our flight plan across King William Island.
We had hoped to continue our flight on to Victoria Island but fog turned us back. Tomorrow we will continue the flight to Victoria and then back to base camp by way of the Boothia Peninsula, Pelly Bay and a bit of Melville Peninsula.
Larry Niles is a scientist and conservationist with over 35 years experience in recovering wildlife populations, leading scientific expeditions and restoring wildlife habitat. He lives on Delaware Bay in Greenwich, NJ