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2000 Arctic Search for the Red Knot
July 1-2, 2000

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Johnny, our Inuit guide from Coral Harbor, joined the team the day we came to our base camp. Johnny has lived in Coral Harbor all his life but has traveled to Europe and throughout North America. Johnny helps with his extensive knowledge of the tundra and his experience in the area. He, like many of the residents of Coral Harbor, frequently roam these remote areas in search of caribou and other game. Johnny is a guide but also keeps the hunting data for the Keewatin district which covers the towns Baker Lake, Arviat, Whale Cove, Rankin Inlet, Chesterfield Inlet, Repulse Bay, and Coral Harbor.

Our major innovation this year was the cook tent. Last year our much smaller team had to contend with the cold and rain while preparing and eating meals. When the mosquitoes arrived we knew we had to have a central tent. The tent is our kitchen but it also allows us to sit in relative comfort while we share our daily experiences. If we are successful at finding red knot nests it will be in large part because we were able to "debrief ".

Nancy "Olive" our camp cook serves Bruno and Liz.

We started the day by capturing the first bird on a nest. Here Mark is trapping an incubating adult so we can band and measure her. We will also attach a small transmitter on the bird and with constant monitoring we will be able determine their incubation pattern. Later we hope to locate the habitats where adults will lead their young from the nest. The Red Knot is an unusual Arctic nester. Most species maintain territories that include the nest and most of the area in which they feed. Red knots nest in areas distant from their feeding areas. They can do this because they incubate eggs for up to 18 hours at a time thus allowing the non-incubating adult to forage up to 10 km away. The problem comes when the young hatch in areas where they cannot feed. The adult must then lead her brood on a perilous journey to a new habitat.

By 7/2/00 we found two more nests. Our technique is evolving but we are trying to use all the tools we have available to us. We are starting with Rick's satellite imagery. He has verified the map data with ground surveys and more finely delineated subtle variations in habitat. With the help of Mandy and Graciela he is plotting the nest sites and new bird observations so we can now distinguish the best areas to search for nests. Each day we separate into two teams, each broadly sweeping different areas looking for birds or nest cups while playing knot calls with our portable CD players. Gradually we are improving our understanding of bird behavior although they still puzzle us.

Undoubtedly, our best tool is Hooch. She helped us find two of our three nests so far. At this point she seems like the most valuable member our team. She reluctantly wears her boots each day to protect her paws from the brutal rock surfaces that plague us all.
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