Written by Bryan Watts
April 5, 2012
Hope at Great Pond on 9 January, 2012. Photo by Lisa Yntema.
Hope, a whimbrel carrying a satellite transmitter, has returned to the Eastern Shore of Virginia after spending the winter on St. Croix in the U.S. Virginia Islands. The bird has been tracked by a team of researchers through her migratory travels since she was captured on Box Tree Creek in Northampton County, Virginia on 19 May, 2009. Since that time she has traveled more than 44,100 miles (71,000 kilometers) back and forth 3 times between breeding grounds on the MacKenzie River in western Canada and Great Pond Important Bird Area on St. Croix. She likely left Great Pond on the evening of April 1st and arrived in Virginia on the morning of April 4th, covering the 1600 miles in approximately 60 hours. She had been wintering on Great Pond since September 16, 2011.
Hope has taught the research community a great deal about the migratory pathways and habits of whimbrels. She has made tremendous nonstop flights, moved great distances out over the open Atlantic, confronted storms while at sea, navigated with precision to stopover sites and shown high fidelity to her breeding site, her wintering site, and several staging areas. Hope is one of more than a dozen birds that have been tracked in a collaborative effort between The Center for Conservation Biology, The Nature Conservancy designed to discover migratory routes that connect breeding and winter areas and to identify en route migratory staging areas that are critical to the conservation of this declining species.
Updated tracking maps may be viewed online on wildlifetracking.org