Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Whimbrel Project

 The Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge serves as one of the country's most valuable stop-overs for migratory birds. Located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chesapeake Bay, this 1,127-acre refuge was established in 1984 for migratory birds and endangered species management. I'm fortunate to live not that far from this prime birding refuge. Sites like these are very important to birds like whimbrels who stop over in the spring to rest and refuel before heading north to their summer grounds.

Whimbrel's (click link to see a photo of the bird) are one of the most wide-ranging shorebirds in the world. One particular whimpel named 'Hope' is helping scientist understand why this particular shore bird is on the decline. I first heard about Hope from an article in my local newspaper and was amazed at how far whimbrels travel in one year - over 14,000 miles...WOW!

Hope was captured last spring on VA Eastern Shore and fitted with a transmitter. This study is designed to identify stop-over sites that are important to whimbrels and make a case for preserving these sites. This is a very important project because whimbrels have been declining in recent years - mostly due to land development.

Hope recently returned to Virginia's Eastern shore where she'll spend a few weeks resting up and eating fiddler crabs. Her next stop will be to her nesting site in western Canada, near Alaska.

What's amazing is the fact that Hope came back to the exact same mudflat where she was caught last year. It's a wonder how they do this. Here's a map that shows Hope's path over the last year:

Whimbrel Map 

Map Source: Center for Conservation Biology, ESRI, USGS


Happy Earth Day everyone!


April Lorier said...

over 14,000 miles...WOW! And then returned? Gee, think the Creator had anything to do with that?

Les said...

And what would Hope have done if that mudflat was filled in and built on? Thanks for sharing the refuge, it is a great place and easily accessible.

Alan Pulley said...

I was thinking the same thing April!

Your welcome Les. Wish I had time to visit the shore more often.