Friday, August 26, 2011

August 26: Whimbrel

I just read a story (read this!) about a whimbrel wearing a radio transmitter that was tracked as it migrated non-stop from the Arctic until it hit the outer edge of Hurricane Irene. The whimbrel, a largish shorebird with a decurved bill, is infamous for its epic migration flights, flying thousands of miles at a time without pausing for rest. This particular bird appears to have made it alive to an island in the Caribbean, which he somehow knew how and was able to get to despite being caught in a potentially disorienting hurricane. Bird migration is an awe-inspiring thing, and this story just increases the amazement factor for me (besides the fact that we can actually follow this bird on his journey thanks to modern technology). While I'll still worry about the smaller songbirds that might get caught in the maelstrom as they blithely head south over the next few days, it's somewhat reassuring and very cool to know that some of the larger birds are tougher and more resourceful than we might have thought.

Whimbrel in a storm
flies on, knows where he's going.
We track him in awe.

Update to the above linked news story posted on August 27:
"Staff at The Center for Conservation Biology say it looks as if Chinquapin made it through the storm and is okay. "We have had several locations that put the bird on that island and the collective locations and sensor data suggest the bird is fine. After that hard flight it will likely stage within this site for days before completing its migration to the northern coast of South America," says Watts. The Center, based in Virginia, is in the middle of Irene right now and so won't be able to give further updates until Sunday, "if we have power," he says."

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