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Arctic

Arctic, Expeditions and Travels, Science

In Search of Knots

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While flying from Winnipeg to Nunavut, we focused on a strategy for finding red knot nests and adults with broods. We know from our 9 years of Arctic work that knots don’t occur randomly across the tundra landscape. Quite the opposite, they choose very specific places that distinguish knots from other Arctic nesting shorebirds. Most knots choose to nest in relatively barren tundra slightly higher in elevation than more common Arctic nesting shorebirds. The latter prefer the lush wetland tundra along the coast and in the bigger river drainages because of the abundant prey early in the season. So why…

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Arctic, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Expeditions and Travels, Science

Returning to the Arctic

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The odd thing about the shorebirds of Delaware Bay is that they are not really of Delaware Bay but of the Canadian Arctic. The most important part of their lives is spent in the barren high tundra of the Arctic, in places like Southampton Island, located on the north end of Hudson Bay. We have worked in Southampton Island for 6 years studying the red knot but stopped because the decline seen in Delaware Bay was more than apparent in the Arctic – birds literally disappeared from our wilderness study site. It’s been 8 years since then, and now we…

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Arctic, Bird Study, Expeditions and Travels, Science

No Luck for Knots Canadian Arctic 2007

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We spent the last day in the field re-surveying Mt. Pelly for red knots. With the coordinates of the three nests found in 1999-2003, we used GPS to cover much of the area we had surveyed at the start of the trip but without success. We went back to Mt. Pelly that evening to listen for knots, but still no luck. We stayed to watch the sun, still far from the horizon even though it was nearly 11:00 pm, but eventually a strong cold wind drove us back to camp.   Gwen pointing out a red knot nest cup on…

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Arctic, Bird Study, Expeditions and Travels, Science

Climate Change or Just Lucky? – Canadian Arctic 2007

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A cold wet fog ended the long run of unseasonably warm weather we’ve had since our arrival on Victoria Island. Normal for this time of year is a high of about 46 degrees but over the last five days we have basked in temperatures as high as 75 degrees. Although most of the town of Cambridge Bay enjoyed the short reprieve from winter, it felt ominous. Was this global warming in action? Or was it just an odd spell of warmth punctuating the usual cool summer weather? Climate change or not, it was glorious. Warm gentle breezes, coupled with a…

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Arctic, Bird Study, Expeditions and Travels, Science

Looking for Shorebirds on Mt Pelly – Canadian Arctic 2007

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Our camp lies at the base of Mt. Pelly, about 12 miles north of Cambridge Bay. More a big hill than a mountain, Mt. Pelly nevertheless imposes a mighty presence in this large flat landscape. Imagine a steep mound rising ominously out of the tundra like a giant being with it own wildlife community clinging to its sides: peregrine falcons, ravens, rough-legged hawks, American pipits, horned larks and rock ptarmigans have been seen on Mt Pelly for as long as people have been recording wildlife. No doubt they were here long before people first came to this land. Standing on…

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Arctic, Expeditions and Travels, Science

Studying Red Knots in the Canadian Arctic 2007

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Thursday, June 28, 2007 Snow and Ice first started appearing from the jet window about an hour north of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. We were still an hour south of Cambridge Bay, Nunuvut, our final destination and where our expedition would begin. From our warm perch at 10,000 ft, we could first see a remnant patch of ice on the edge of one of the constellation of ponds and lakes that dot the tundra. Within minutes, the ice remnants turned to into the predominant feature of the landscape; the vast unbroken wilderness of tundra stretching thousands of miles to the north,…

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