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Australia, Bird Study, Expeditions and Travels, Science, Uncategorized

Australia Road Trip – Cannon Netting Shorebirds

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Ghost Crab holes, and the sandy remains of excavation, on 80 Mile Beach Our first catch with cannon nets at 80 Mile Beach, in the late afternoon, gave all of us a real sense of accomplishment. After two days of experimenting with small-mesh nets (setting one high and one low), the team leaders, Clive, Roz and Chris decided to go back to the same method that has proved successful in the past — two large-mesh nets set at the same level of the tide. It was a tough call for several reasons . . . . . The small-mesh net,…

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Australia, Bird Study, Expeditions and Travels, Science

Australia Road Trip Learning The Science of Feather Molt

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    Red knot flight feathers. Primary flight feathers (or “primaries”) are at the outer wing, secondary flight feathers (or “secondaries”) are at the inner wing. The 10 primaries point more toward the wing tip while the secondaries point more toward the body (you can see this difference below the bend of the wing).   If dealing with the effect of heat on bird and team is the first major lesson of trapping in northwest Australia, the complicated wing molt of tropical non-breeding waders is the second. The heat, sun and wind wear down everything. For example the engraved leg…

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Australia, Bird Study, Expeditions and Travels, Science, Travel

Australia Road Trip – 80 Mile Beach 155 miles long

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Oriental Plovers (foreground) and Grey-tailed Tattlers on 80 Mile Beach   We left Broome, successful to the extent that we had caught over a 1,000 birds, with sufficient samples of a number of species and few mortalities. It was a remarkable feat considering the heat. Clive, Chris and Roz along with Pru and Maureen helped the team members increase their skills while also making bold and decisive actions to catch then and care for all the birds. As usual, success depends on persistence. One could look upon the thousands of shorebirds at Roebuck Bay and conclude that dropping a net…

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Australia, Bird Study, Expeditions and Travels, Science

Australia Road Trip – Broome Boom

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Red “Pindan” soils and limestone formations surrounding Roebuck Bay, near Broome in Western Australia Within an hour of our arrival in Broome, we met most of the 30-member team — our colleagues for the next ten days. Clive Minton leads the group as he has done for the last 28 — years ever since he drove the dirt road that led from Alice Springs to Broome and discovered one of the largest populations of wintering (nonbreeding) shorebirds in the world. Clive began catching shorebirds at Roebuck Bay and 80 Mile Beach in 1980. By 1988, he and other members of…

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Australia, Expeditions and Travels, Travel

Australia Road Trip Katherine Gorge All to Ourselves 2007

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Nourlangie, a outlier of the Arnhem Land escarpment of red sandstone, in Kakadu National Park, NT After a short ride from Kakadu National Park, we pulled into the town of Katherine and, after a quick re-supply, took the paved road to Katherine Gorge National Park. The Northern Territory (an Australian state) manages the park even though it is the province of the national government. In the US, it would be like the State of NJ running Gateway National Park, or Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Although a consequence of the relatively recent confederation of Australian States into a national federation in…

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Australia, Conserving Wildlife, Expeditions and Travels, Travel

Australia Road Trip Kakadu National Park 2007

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Roadside warnings about swimming near Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia We stayed Sunday night at Edith Falls National Park, just north of Katherine, and got a quick lesson in Australian ants. Our first acquaintance was at Devils Marbles. While Mandy raised the tent, I started dinner on the portable gas grill. Beneath us roamed the occasional ant. I sautéed the vegetables and grilled some meat, looked down at my feet and was surprised to see ants crossing in all directions in an area about 10 square feet. They posed no problem, so I attended to the food. In a…

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Australia, Conserving Wildlife, Expeditions and Travels, Uncategorized

Australia Road Trip – Up the Road a Piece to Alice Springs

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By day three we flew through fertile southeast Australia and pushed into the barren deserts in the center of the continent. The contrast couldn’t have been greater. In both places, phrases like “up the road apiece” mean nothing. For the most part nothing lies up the road and the distance between places keeps getting longer. In the south there are vast grain fields sprinkled with vineyards producing the wines we all enjoy in the US. Traveling north farmed fields give way to desert used to graze cattle and sheep. Where a drive from Port Augusta to Alice Springs seemed a…

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Australia, Conserving Wildlife, Expeditions and Travels

Australia Road Trip Melbourne to Port Pirie 2007

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For the last seven years, our shorebird blogs have focused on our work in North and South America, from the tundra of the Canadian Arctic to the pampas of Tierra del Fuego. This blog will be different. Although eventually it will describe a shorebird expedition, this time to northwest Australia, it will also describe our journey from Melbourne in southeast Australia, to the expedition site in Broome. Broome is about as far as one can get from Melbourne so our trip will lead us through some of the most remote areas of Australia. When we arrive we will join a…

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