Arctic, Expeditions and Travels

Expedition to the Arctic – July 12, 2000

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We spent the last few days of our expedition preparing for our departure and tying up the some of the lose ends of our work. We had good news on Wednesday when Bruno and Mark found the eggs in several nests piping. We were elated because we assumed it would all happen after we left. The team readily volunteered to keep a constant surveillance on the nests and by Thursday morning, the day Ed was to come and take us back to civilization, our first nest, nest one, hatched all four chicks. Red knot chicks are born precocial, so the young will leave the nest after only a day in the nest and follow their parents to the nearest wetland. It is a perilous journey in which they must do their best to avoid the ever patrolling jaegers and the occasional Arctic fox. We suspect this is the reason for their nesting in such a desolate and barren habitat. It is the area of the tundra you are least likely to encounter predators because there is so little prey. Seeing young before we left was a gift.

The day before Johnny and I took a bumpy 31 km journey to the western side of the peninsula to try and find the single nest we located last year. We found 8 transmittered birds last year during the aerial search on Southampton Island but had great difficulty finding them on the ground. On our last day on the island, after Ed picked us up and we were on our way back after 15 days of searching, we decided to make one last attempt to find a nest on the ground. We landed within a kilometer of the 7th instrumented bird and found a nest with four eggs. Johnny and I were trying to get back to the area this year, not only to find the nest but to see if knots use the same nest cup each year. If they do it will make it easier for us next year. We found the nest cup, but no bird. Although it may have been lost to predators it may be that birds use different nest cups each year. We searched one km in all directions of the nest cup and found no nesting birds.

 

It took us most of Thursday to get off the island. We had to split into two groups. The first, comprised of Kathy, Nancy, Liz, Barbara and Bruno, stayed in Coral Harbor at Leonie’s Place, a local bed and breakfast (above, Leonie, our host). By the day’s end the rest of us were back in Rankin Inlet discussing the results of our trip.