Thursday, September 15, 2011

Machi, A Whimbrel's Story

Since August 2009 when a small solar power tracking device was put on Machi, a Whimbrel, the Scientists at the Center for Conservation Biology have been following her life. For 756 days they followed her learning about the life and travels of Whimbrels. She summered in the Hudson Bay area and then wintered in Brazil. She made 7 nonstop flights of more than 2,000 miles. One of those flights was in September 2010. It was a staggering 113 hour flight that covered 2673 miles without stopping. She flew right over the Caribbean to land in Suriname. This year she spent the summer about the same place in the Hudson Bay Area. She then started her southward flight. She ran into Hurricane Irene in the Eastern Shore of Virginia. She made it through that storm floating on marsh wrack. She then had to fly through Topical Storm Maria. She didn’t have the reserves to make her long jump to South America. She had to land in Guadalupe in a “shooting field.” This is where Machi was killed. She was not shot for food. She was shot for one person enjoyment. Her life ended on a man- made mud field constructed especially for people to go out and shoot every bird that lands. (This is an unbanded Whimbrel that is visiting Jekyll right now. Sorry I do not have a picture of Machi. )

I first heard of these shooting fields just a few weeks ago. I was talking to Abby from Little St. Simons Island. She had just gotten back from an International Shorebird Working Group Conference. Being an avid shorebird person who works for the conservation of these amazing bird, it is hard to believe that people would enjoy just gunning them down. Abby told me of the in creditable numbers of legs of shorebirds that are brought in to counted and logged. Among the species identified are endangered shorebirds like Red Knots.
She went on to say that there are groups trying to buy up these shooting field and closing them down. There is hope.

Just not for Machi. We did learn a lot about what Whimbrels are doing and the amazing life they lead through Machi so she will not be forgotten.

Post Script there are islands in the Caribbean, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Barbados, which do not honor The Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This act was passed, in part, to protect dwindling numbers of birds that migrate across country borders. Shorebird hunting within these areas continues to be unregulated to the present time.

I just learned that another Whimbrel, Goshen, was shot in Guadeloupe. Read the full story from the source

She was tracked 399 days and spent some time this past spring in the St. Simons Area of our Georgia coast.

Follow the two other Whimbrels Hope and Chinquapin at:
This tracking project is a collaborative effort between The Center for Conservation Biology, The Nature Conservancy, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, and Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences.

Thanks folks, keep up the great work that you do.

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