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Arctic

Post on our research expeditions to the Canadian Arctic

Arctic, Arctic 2001, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird

Arctic Shorebirds – Our second expedition 2001 – July 13

Steve Gates Tracking
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Previous Post   Polar Bear Making it Hard to Do Our Work Our fourth bear finally arose about 1:00 p.m. Stretching and yawning, he lumbered slowly into the water and swam off to the northwest. He moved out of sight within an hour. After our close call of the previous day, the bear coming within 100m of camp, we decided to step up our precautionary efforts. We now share in all-night watches, and during the day, we split into groups equal to the number of guns we pack. We realized we must take it seriously. Johnny told us he rarely…

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Arctic, Arctic 2001, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird

Arctic Shorebirds – Our Second Expedition 2001 June 30

Jaeger in Arctic
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Previous Post   Not So Lucky Last year we got lucky. On the first search of the first day, we found a nesting red knot. In all we found 11 red knot nests, more than any other researcher had ever located. We hoped to relocate nests within these 11 territories, perhaps even locating them in the same cups or in nearby patches of Dryas. As in 2000, we planned to study this group of birds at these nests using both radio telemetry and observation. Then we planned to move on to other nearby eskers, the sinuous ridges that are the…

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Arctic, Arctic 2002, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird

Arctic Shorebirds – Our third expedition 2002 – June 21

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Previous Post   Early Difficulties We left Coral Harbour for our field site with some relief. Not because of the residents, who we found to be both interesting and friendly to outsiders, but because of the difficulties we encountered. One setback was discovering, after our arrival in Coral Harbour, that the generator and stove we had stored the previous year had been stolen. Thus began a day-long desperate search for a small generator. Without it, we would have no photographs, webpages, satellite phone, computer data entry and analysis, GIS entry and analysis, etc. In the end, we rented a new…

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Arctic, Bird Study, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Delaware Bay 2015, Expeditions and Travels, habitat management, Red Knot, Restoring Habitat, Science, Shorebird, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

The Red Knots “Vote with their Wings”

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Previous Post Clive Minton is fond of saying, “the knots vote with their wings” as a way of saying knots concentrate in the best places for knots. Of course it’s true, animals move to the habitats they find most suitable, nature leaves little room for anything but. Sometimes however, animals use a habitat only because they have little choice — in other words, they are making the best of a bad situation. The job of a good wildlife biologist is to understand the difference. Unfortunately, it’s often not obvious. In all the places studied by this author — Tierra del…

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Arctic, Bird Study, conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, Delaware Bay 2015, Expeditions and Travels, habitat management, Red Knot, Restoring Habitat, Science, Shorebird, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

19,077 Red Knots Observed in New Jersey

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Previous Post Despite the threatening forecast of a cold drizzle and strong winds, our team persevered to complete the first bay-wide count of this season. On the New Jersey side of Delaware Bay, we counted 19,077 red knots – the most seen in the state in a decade. With Delaware’s shorebird team recording 2,000 knots along their entire shoreline, the total knot count of 21,077 is not far from the 24,000 seasonal maximum of the last three years. This is good news in either of two completely different ways. One explanation is that perhaps most of the knots have already…

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Arctic, Arctic 2013, Red Knot, Shorebird, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, wildlife tracking

Arctic Field Notes: A Daily Log from Mark Peck

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Previous Post Ever wonder what field scientists record in their notebooks during their day-to-day work? In July 2013, biologist Mark Peck (Royal Ontario Museum) was one of five scientists who traveled to Southampton Island, a large island in northern Canada, in search of nesting red knots and other shorebirds. His daily field notes and photographs provide a fascinating look at the trials and tribulations faced by the scientists seeking to protect these imperiled species. 1 July 2013 – Left at 20:30 for Winnipeg. Arrived at 22:30 and checked into the Hampton Inn. Larry Niles, Mandy Dey, Steve Gates, and Rick…

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Arctic, Arctic 2013, Conserving Wildlife, Red Knot, Shorebird

Cruel Arctic Weather

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Previous Post We have been home now for a few days, sweltering in 97+ degree heat, the memory of 39 degree nights as distant as the Arctic. Yesterday I debriefed with Canadian Wildlife Service Biologist Paul Smith ( one of our funders) and we discussed both our team’s and his experience on Southampton this season. Paul went early to the East Bay Camp on the southeast side of Southampton also doing surveys. Afterwards he spoke of July 16th , the day we left Coral Harbor for our homes. We had a terrible departure, the single room air terminal was filled…

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Arctic, Arctic 2013, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird

Summing Up Our 2013 Arctic Expedition

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Previous Post The expedition was a success simply because we are all going home safe and sound. But it was also a complete success because we achieved all of our primary goals. First, we established the presence of a new Red Knot breeding area from the ground. It is unique among the three known on Southampton Island, and already known to be one of the most important breeding sites for the rufa subspecies. Just finding it was a true Arctic expedition, taking us deep into the wilderness of Southampton Island. Our team persisted through extraordinary obstacles that made us feel…

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Arctic, Arctic 2013, Red Knot, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, wildlife tracking

Our Last Day in the Arctic

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Previous Post We woke to a brilliant sunny day on our last day on Knot Plateau, a perfect contrast to the penetratingly cold rain of the day before. While Rick, Steve, and Mandy broke camp, Mark and I drove our ATV out to the two knot nests we had found two days prior. As we had only banded one parent at each nest, we were hoping to find the unbanded birds this time. On the way we saw our first (and last) polar bear. When it saw us coming, he slowly lumbered off in the opposite direction, posing no threat…

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Arctic, Arctic 2013, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird

Arctic Rain

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Previous Post The god of Arctic weather is determined to keep us confined to our tents today. The weather is horrible, with constant cold drizzle punctuated by brief downpours. This is very likely the most rain we have ever had in our 9 years of work on Southampton Island. It’s certainly the coldest day in this year’s expedition. Our team is of different mindsets about the impact of the rain. I suspect that it will be damaging at the time of egg hatching, if only because the newly-hatched chicks are barely covered in thin down and must leave the nest…

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Arctic, Arctic 2013, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Science, Shorebird

Knots At Last

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Previous Post After 10 days in the field, 5 of them searching for knots, and with only one day before we must leave, we have at long last found knot nests – two, in fact. As we suspected, both still contained eggs, although one adult was also brooding a chick that was only hours old. Also as we suspected, we found them on small ridges in gravel-sized frost-cracked rock with very sparse vegetation. Finding the second nest was lucky, but it wasn’t entirely an accident. Considering there are fewer knots than the number of potential knot nesting sites in our…

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Arctic, Arctic 2013, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird

The Search Continues

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Previous Post The rigors of conducting field work and sleeping on therm-a-rest mattresses in unheated, low-ceilinged tents are starting to wear us out. Of course, much of this is age-related. The author of this blog, being on the older side of the crew, finds the need to get dressed in a tent the size of a refrigerator box to be the most difficult part of our field experience. Ironically Joshua, the youngest of our crew, has a small campaign tent in which he can stand. We are finally settling into a routine. The days of battling the Sutton River basin…

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