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Arctic

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

Arctic Shorebirds – Our second expedition 2001 – July 15

searching for knots
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Previous Post   Bearing Arms We must be among the few biologists who study the habits of innocent tiny bird chicks while armed. Because two bears set up temporary residence within sight of our esker we must now split into only two groups, each with shotguns. Our fifth bear, massive and slow, hauled himself over the ridge south of camp, lay down, and slept for the next three days. He slumbered near two of our three instrumented birds with broods, leaving little chance to work on them. Our sixth bear rested near the south ridge close to our only other…

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

Arctic Shorebirds – Our third expedition 2002 – June 18 first day

Inuit Art
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Go to An Introduction on the Purpose of Our Expeditions   Going Early to Understand More Risking colder and more unpredictable weather we decided to begin our 2002 Arctic Expedition ten days earlier than our previous trips. We are trying to carry out our surveys when red knots more actively defend territories. Predicting the timing of knot breeding remains elusive, however. Last year’s incubation started at least ten days earlier than the previous year, leaving us asking the critical question, what is normal? We still have a lot to learn about the complex breeding behavior of the knot. Earlier is…

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Arctic, Arctic 2002, Expeditions and Travels

Arctic Shorebirds – Our third expedition 2002 – June 25

tents in the Arctic tundra
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Previous Post   Knots Usually Nest on Eskers  and We Endure an Arctic Summer Storm After successfully surveying the area surrounding our main esker we decided to tackle the esker to the southeast. Between the two, we found two pairs of sanderlings who were not yet nesting in the same area as the two found last year. One of those birds was banded on the Delaware Bay, thus proving that our study area is populated with sanderlings that come through the bay. Along the south esker we found only two displaying knots presumably indicating nests. We decided to return later…

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

Arctic Shorebirds – Our third expedition 2002 – June 30

red knot nest
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Previous Post Sunny Day Dark Outcome I can’t imagine the sun shines more brightly anywhere else in the world than it does on a clear day on the tundra. With no wind and no clouds the sun warmed us until we were compelled to work in short sleeve shirts. Although our spiritual beliefs ranged widely, we were all thankful to the same spirit on that warm day. In contrast to the day of the 50 mph winds, we felt like we had taken a trip to the Caribbean. Our luck with the birds took the opposite twist. We had delayed…

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

Arctic Shorebirds – Our third expedition 2002 – July 2

Aircraft flight path
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Previous Post   New Mapping Helps Nearing the end of our trip we began to increase our knot nest count. The location of these nests substantially increased our understanding of knot breeding habitat. When we began our work in the Arctic we literally started at the beginning. First, we had to find red knots by attaching radio transmitters to a small number that we had trapped on the Delaware Bay. Next, we searched for them by airplane throughout the Canadian Arctic. Consequently, Rick produced a map of breeding habitat that was the first comprehensive assessment of breeding habitat of the…

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

Arctic Shorebirds – Our third expedition 2002 – July 4

2002 team
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Previous Post   Going Home If you go to the Arctic you can expect to enjoy an adventure from beginning to end. Nancy, Steve and I separated from the rest of the team and stayed the night in Coral Harbour. We expected a simple transition from field to town and looked forward to a shower and a night in bed. But our trip to Coral Harbour brought much more. Our flight out of camp went without a hitch. Ed brought the Cessna Caravan airplane down at about the time we had broken camp. We left it with a mix of…

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Arctic, Arctic 2000, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird

Arctic Shorebirds – Our First Expedition 2000 -July 12

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Previous Post 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,…

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Arctic, Arctic 2000, Expeditions and Travels, Red Knot, Shorebird

Arctic Shorebirds – Our First Expedition 2000 – Trip Conclusion

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  Previous Post We accomplished a number of important scientific goals on our expedition. We found enough nests to provide a reasonable sample for the study of the breeding ecology of the red knot. We instrumented 8 birds and conducted the first study of home range and habitat use. We began a study on feeding ecology of breeding birds, the first for the new world knots. We banded nearly all the adults of the 11 nests and collected nest-site data, body measurements and blood samples for most of the birds. We now know what the important habitats are for red…

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

Arctic Shorebirds – Our Second Expedition 2001 June 27

arctic tundra
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Go To Introduction to Expeditions to Arctic and Chile in Search of Red Knots   Seaching for Arctic Nesting Shorebirds Under a clear sky, and slapped by a brisk Arctic wind, our team walked from the First Air 737 into the Rankin Inlet Airport. After one night in Rankin our team will split. Nancy Donnelly (United Friends School) and Brad Winn (Wildlife Resources Unit of Georgia Division of Natural Resources) will go on to Coral Harbor, meet Johnny Alouit, our Inuit team member, and pick up our rental ATV. Mark Peck (Royal Ontario Museum), Barry Truitt ( Virginia Coast Reserve,…

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

Arctic Shorebirds – Our second expedition 2001 – July 6

Arctic Storm
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Previous Post     Polar Bears and Shorebirds As of yesterday evening we have sighted more polar bears than red knot nests: one red knot nest in 7 days of searching, three bears in 24 hours with no searching. The bears, the largest land predator in the world, tend to stand out wherever they go in this dun colored barren tundra. The first, sighted by Bruno, strolled lazily within a few km of our team while we searched for knot nests north of our base. The large male kept moving and eventually disappeared over a low ridge to the north….

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

Arctic Shorebirds – Our second expedition 2001 – July 9

red knot chick
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Previous Post   Brooding Chicks Persistent, difficult fieldwork paid off for our team in the last few days. After several long days of searching new areas, Bruno, with Mark, Nancy, and Steve, discovered an adult in “broken-wing” display, a sure sign of a nearby nest. But, she responded oddly. In the typical way, she limped around Bruno, wings hanging limply, vainly attempting to pull him in her direction. Then she gathered herself and performed for the others in the team increasing distances from the original display. She wasn’t incubating but brooding and moving as her chicks moved. It was hard…

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

Arctic Shorebirds – Our second expedition 2001 – July 3

hoochie
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Previous Post No Oil No Expedition It’s hard to describe the isolation of our study site except by the extraordinary silence that has an almost tangible quality. It was during just one of those periods that we heard a plane although the idea was ludicrous. We hear or see planes rarely and only then at 20,000 ft. heading for Europe. But emerging from the overcast sky came the Skyward Cessna Caravan rounding the esker and flying low over the camp. We stared dumbstruck, was there a problem, did some tragedy befall someone’s family? Fortunately the plane had a mission. On…

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