Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Churchill on the Radio!

Check out www.avioyak.ca for a podcast about the work we were doing in Churchill! This production is the senior thesis of Kaleigh Eichel, one of the interns working at the Churchill Northern Studies Center this past summer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Churchill Photos

Well, look at that. As predicted, I have not kept up with this blog particularly well. Whoops....

Regardless, I have posted an album of photos from the summer. Quick overall summery: It was AWESOME.

Photos: https://picasaweb.google.com/hope.batcheller/Churchill2011?authkey=Gv1sRgCIq4k6OcmbvapwE

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Po Bears

Hmm...definitely the kind of view I only like to have from the car (and Mom - yes, this was indeed from said car)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mmmm boom. To the fen / Our wilderness will touch you / Welcome to Churchill

One day it began
And the haikus still won’t stop
Churchill tradition

All day in the fen
Our minds wander far and wide
Composing haikus

Tundra flowers bloom
Brightening the once drab ground
Summer has arrived

Dark speck against blue
Godwit sailing above air
Notes drop down like rain

Depredation issues
We’ve neared ninety-two percent
Let’s hope some re-nest...

Ghosts of godwits past
A dry cup, GPS marked
Once called, now silent.

Bugs bugs eat ‘em up
More protein in your diet
Buzzing down your throat

Chicks stuffed down my shirt
Keeping warm ‘gainst wind and rain
Small fuzzy godwits

White Gyrfalcon stands
Surveying the vast tundra
Majestically reigns

With credits to Madi, Hannah, and Andy for both poetry and general inspiration.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Monkeys Return

View of typical Churchill scenery.

Our past week or so has been basically filled with more nest searching. However, we've also now begun to band birds. Banding a godwit involves placing a mist net on top of their nest, then flushing them up into it. They get tangled, but then we immediately extract them. Once in hand, each bird gets a metal band with identification number, a color band, and a flag with a unique alpha code.

Walking in on a godwit nest with a mist net.

There are several reasons that catching the birds are important. First, the flags allow us to identify the individual birds and thereby know who's visiting what areas. Second, it allows us to collect data on their weight, wing and bill length, etc, etc. Third, and most excitingly, several godwits at the fen have data loggers attached to their flags. These devices record sunrise and sunset times, and allow us to determine exactly where the bird migrated to over the past year.

Dear Mr. JJ, thank you for giving us your data logger.

Banding and nest searching keep us busy for the most part, but we also take time to enjoy the scenery and other birds. Basically......Churchill is awesome.

Looking out over the Hudson Bay.

American Golden-Plover on nest.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Stilt Sandpiper nest

Stilt Sandpiper nest from today!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Sunset over the fen.

Oops, it appears my bogging rate already has a negative acceleration....

This past week the godwit activity really picked up. Last weekend's storm had dampened (or frozen?) the activity, but things started popping once the sun finally came out. We've found seven nests thus far, and birds are now finishing laying their clutches and beginning incubation.

A fairly typical godwit nest. The clutches are almost always four eggs, and the nests are located on low grassy hummocks in otherwise fairly wet areas.

Because finding nests is crucial to our work, our next few weeks are basically dedicated to nest searching. This involves not only observing birds' behavior, but also pacing large areas hoping to flush birds from their nests. Godwits don't flush until you're about 2 metres (ooo so Canadian, eh?) away, though, so such searching requires you to walk in a ridiculous zig-zag fashion. Yes, that's exhausting, but finally finding a nest results in a complete and utter euphoria.

Male godwit sitting on a nest. We found this nest simply by watching the bird walk onto it - !

Arctic Fox that ran along the road in front of us this morning!