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Chile

Red Knot, Tierra del Fuego 2018

Looking Towards the Future

king penguins in Porvenir Chile
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The previous post “Choosing Extinction? From Malevolence to Farce After nearly two decades of trips to Chile, one gets the pulse of the people and community and how it changes over time. In 2001 we stayed at a small estancia on the east end of Tierra del Fuego, run by a diminutive but muscular rancher.  He had a face as craggy as a rock wall but he was generous and eager for the company.  After we finished three weeks of grueling field work, he offered to celebrate its completion with a lamb roast, or Asado. This traditional feast starts with…

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Expeditions and Travels, Tierra del Fuego 2018

Tierra del Fuego – An Island of Contrasts

mountains, chile
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 Seven years ago in Tierra del Fuego Seven years ago we finished our last expedition to Tierra del Fuego, Chile, the wintering area of the red knots and other Arctic nesting shorebirds. We expected to return. Instead, an 11-year-long investigation aimed at understanding and protecting an ecologically important and fragile place ended. For a field biologist, ending a long-term study is like ending a long-standing personal relationship. A good field biologist not only understands the ecology of a place but loves it by seeking more protection for its fragile parts. Once the connection ends, one longs for the beloved land,…

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Arctic, Expeditions and Travels, Tierra Del Fuego 2000

Our Expeditions to the Arctic and Chile in search of red knots – 2000-2004: An introduction written 17 years later

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Following are a series of blogs I wrote 15 years ago while leading expeditions to the Arctic tundra and the pampas of  Tierra del Fuego (TDF).. We were following the wandering life of the red knot, a shorebird that migrates 20,000 miles every year from one end of the earth to the other, just to survive.  On it’s return from wintering sites like Tierra del Fuego, Brazil’s Maranhao, or Florida’s Gulf coast, most red knots stop for a few weeks on Delaware Bay.  You’ll see blogs in this site that describe this amazing wildlife spectacle shorebirds hosing down horseshoe crabs…

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Expeditions and Travels, Tierra del Fuego 2004

Expedition to Tierra del Fuego – 2004: Introduction

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On our fifth campaign to Tierra Del Fuego, we hope to achieve a variety of scientific and conservation goals focused on the red knot and their chief non-breeding or wintering area on Bahia Lomas. Guy Morrison and Ken Ross will continue the aerial survey of all shorebirds species along the Atlantic coast of Argentina and the Chilean coast of the Straits of Magellan. Our main team, composed of Chilean, Argentine, Dutch, Canadian and American biologists, will conduct several projects including red knot capture and banding, foraging efficiency, and invertebrate prey inventory. Concurrently, we will continue our effort to assist Chilean…

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Chile, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird, Tierra Del Fuego 2003

Expedition to Tierra del Fuego – 2003: Introduction

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On our fourth trip to the southern-most tip of South America, our team will focus once again on the condition of the wintering red knots (summering knots for South Americans). These are the same birds that stopover on the Delaware Bay each May to refuel before flying to nest in the Canadian Arctic. After leaving the Arctic in late July, red knots make a journey that nearly spans the globe to the shores of Chile and Argentina where we will do our work. When they leave in late February they will slowly work their way up the South American coast…

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Chile, conservation, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird, Tierra Del Fuego 2002

Expedition to Tierra del Fuego – 2002: Introduction

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In our third trip to Tierra Del Fuego, we will continue assessing the status of wintering red knots with a international team of biologists from Chile, Argentina, US, Canada, and Australia. We do this to accomplish two major conservation goals. The first goal is to help focus attention on the important concentration areas for wintering birds like Bahia Lomas in Chile, Bahia San Sebastion in Argentina, and the Atlantic Coast beach of Rio Grande in Argentina. Our second goal is to determine the population numbers and the age ratio of the wintering flocks in Bahia Lomas, which accounts for a…

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Chile, Expeditions and Travels, Tierra Del Fuego 2001

Expedition to Tierra del Fuego – 2001: Introduction

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On February 1, biologists with the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program will lead a team of other biologists from the US, Canada and Chile to Tierra del Fuego, at the southernmost tip of South America, to study the Red knot. The knot, a dove sized, red breasted shorebird, flies an incredible 10,000 mile journey from arctic breeding grounds to winter in Tierra del Fuego. On their return journey to the Arctic, the birds run out of fuel and stopover on the Delaware bay, where they gorge on the eggs of the horseshoe crab. The…

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Chile, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird, Tierra Del Fuego 2003

Expedition to Tierra del Fuego – February 3, 2003

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Previous Post On January 31, Lisa returned with good news on our efforts to promote the desigation of Bahia Lomas as RAMSAR site. She met with Marcos Cordero, Regional Director of CONAF (Corporacion Nacional Forestal) and with Maria Christina Lagos, Ingeniero Agrónomo of CONAMA, (Commision Nacional del Medio Ambiente) in Punta Arenas to discuss the government’s position. Lisa learned that Elier Tabilo, who works with the Neotropical Center for Wetlands Training in Chile, has been in touch with a number of government officials to express strong support for RAMSAR designation of Bahia Lomas. Yerko Vilino of the Universidad Santo Tomas,…

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Chile, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird, texas, Tierra Del Fuego 2003

Expedition to Tierra del Fuego – February 6, 2003

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Previous Post Adding to our concern over the low numbers of red knots on the bay is the low proportion of immatures. In healthy shorebird populations one could expect 1 out of every 3-5 birds to be young of the year. For example in 2002 we found 1 out of every 3 godwits (36%) to be young of the year. For red knots the figure was much lower, 1 out of 17 (6%). This year only 5% of the knots were immatures. Why the lower rate? One possibility is juveniles don’t come to Tierra del Fuego to winter but stop…

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Chile, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird, Tierra del Fuego 2004

Expedition to Tierra del Fuego – February 4, 2004

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Previous Post On our fifth campaign to Tierra Del Fuego, we hope to achieve a variety of scientific and conservation goals focused on the red knot and their chief non-breeding or wintering area on Bahia Lomas. Guy Morrison and Ken Ross will continue the aerial survey of all shorebirds species along the Atlantic coast of Argentina and the Chilean coast of the Straits of Magellan. Our main team, composed of Chilean, Argentine, Dutch, Canadian and American biologists, will conduct several projects including red knot capture and banding, foraging efficiency, and invertebrate prey inventory. Concurrently, we will continue our effort to…

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Brazil 2017, Chile, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird, Tierra del Fuego 2004

Expedition to Tierra del Fuego – February 7, 2004

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Previous Post The moon, tides and sun restrict our trapping effort significantly. The moon rises just as the sun sets, leaving us with too much light to catch birds with our mist nets. Bahia Lomas has two zones important to the birds. The normal daily tide floods about half of the sand and mud flats along the bay and in that littoral zone exists most of the red knot and Hudsonian godwit prey. The upper flat only floods at tides influenced by the full and new moon, rising more than 3 m. In that zone, prey densities are very low…

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Chile, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird, Tierra del Fuego 2004

Expedition to Tierra del Fuego – February 12, 2004

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Previous Post We knew on arrival that trapping birds would be difficult; it turned out to be much worse than expected. In the last four days we spent much of the night mist netting from dark to just after high tide getting back to camp no earlier than 2:00 a.m. We ran mist nets each night from the 7th through the 10th and made a decent catch on only one night. The trick was to run the nets after the sun fully set and before the moon rose. Conditions improved through the period, but we had to close the nets…

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Chile, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird, Tierra Del Fuego 2001

Expedition to Tierra del Fuego – February 10, 2001

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Previous Post The entire team began the day searching for birds that were finding refuge from the morning high tide. Sherry, Olivia, Mandy and Bruno took position at the mid-bay access point, while Brad, Bruce and Steve did the same at the stone beach or eastern site. Ricardo and I moved around in the van, but ended up at the Bluffs, an access point in between the stone beach and the mid-bay points. We ruled out the western portion of our study site because we knew it would flood completely. The tides were going to get higher than the previous…

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Chile, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird, Tierra Del Fuego 2001

Expedition to Tierra del Fuego – February 9, 2001

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Previous Post Sherry, Brad, Ricardo, Steve and I drove in search of a new access to the bayshore. We knew the birds roosted between Punta Catalina and our mid-bay access. So we wound our way on a two path road down to the bluffs that form the western corner of the bay before it climbs north to the point. The wind began to howl again gusting to 45 mph. The two path ended at an old abandoned farm standing desolate in a vast pampas-like grassland. We saw many abandoned farms in this area. It’s appears that farming constantly changes in…

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Chile, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird, Tierra Del Fuego 2001

Expedition to Tierra del Fuego – February 12, 2001

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Previous Post Our last two days sped by with the preparations necessary to go back to Punta Arenas and eventually back to the US. Preparing to leave Julian’s house was like breaking camp, we had to gather all of our equipment, personal belongings, cooking utensils and clean so it looked better than when we arrived. Julian was a wonderful host, basically yielding his house to us while we were there. We had all grown fond of him and his home. On our trip back to Punta Arenas we detoured to Cerro Samberro to fuel and return some equipment. From a…

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