Back in June of 2012, a female whimbrel was banded and outfitted with a small satellite transmitter. This happened in the far northern reaches of the Mackenzie River Delta on her breeding grounds. As near as I can figure, that places her as an adult female at the very northern tip of either the Northwest Territories or the Yukon in Canada above the Arctic Circle. Must have been some very intrepid researchers to accomplish that feat! They named her Pingo (which is what a mound of earth covered ice in the Arctic is called).
One of the migrating whimbrels I spotted last week…Not Pingo.
Not long after that, she began her long migration south for the winter. She winters in Brazil, by the way. She didn’t exactly take a direct route. She first went to Labrador on the east coast, and then headed out over the Atlantic. Much to her dismay, I assume, she encountered hurricane Isaac along the way in September of that year. Can you believe that without stopping to rest, she flew around the hurricane and made her way to Brazil? Thanks to the satellite chip, we know that she flew 76 hours straight before making landfall. Isn’t that amazing? [I think she should be the mascot for the newly formed Paul Dahl Disorder Driving Club (PDDDC?).]
On April 17, 2013, Pingo arrived at Anahuac NWR to stop for a while to refuel for her migration back above the Arctic Circle. Everyone here was very excited to learn about this, but she eventually left. Would she make it through another year of getting to the Mackenzie Delta and then back down to Brazil? She sure did.
After spending the winter there she headed for Cuba for a while, and then just a week ago returned to Anahuac! So Pingo is back! These fairly recent advances in satellite technology have enabled researchers to learn so much about migration, and to realize there is so much that they don’t yet know. It once again points to the very importance of maintaining our National Wildlife Refuges and protecting our wild places for future generations. I’m humbled to be able to be a very small part of this. I thought you might enjoy this true to life tale of one of my avian friends. I’d sure like to see her in person, but she’s busy refueling in the far reaches of the East Unit, I believe. Maybe we’ll pass each other along the way as we both head north for the summer…
Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later, Judy