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> August 4, Banding on the Piasuk River delta
Leslie_Pierce
post Aug 9 2005, 12:39 AM
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August 4, 2005
Banding on the Piasuk River delta


Could it be too hot in the Arctic? Well, today was pretty warm, even warmer than yesterday. I did see a temperature of 67 F around noon, but it may have gotten even hotter. Of course, that brought out the bugs. We finished one more drive of about 100 birds here at our camp. Since it was a small group, I got to try my hand at measuring and banding.

I'm measuring the weight and the culmen of a gosling.
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Hereís Bob Ritchie holding a nice blue phase snow goose.
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And, here are two goslings, Brian holds a blue phase on the left and Bob holds a white phase on the right.
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There were no more birds close enough to be driven to this spot, so we needed to move the pot to an area just to the west, in the Piasuk River Delta. We had to be shuttled over there by the helicopter in three trips. The trip didnít take long, a little more than 5 minutes, and by the time Rita and I arrived there the pots were almost set up. While we finished the wings, Larry and Shook began driving a group of birds towards us with the helicopter. We finished the wings just in time, as the birds were here!

Here's Rita in the helicopter!
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And, the helicopter drove a group over a small ridge just when the pot was ready.
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Some of the birds have flight feathers that are almost fully grown in by this time of the summer. The nonbreeding flyers usually take off when the helicopter first arrives and are not herded on the ground with the rest of the flock. However, most parents that can fly will not fly off, choosing instead to stay with their goslings. Every once in a while, during the drive or while in the pot, birds figure out that they can fly off!

We had some flyers! Rita and Jeremy watch them go.
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One of our groups of geese seemed to be overly aggressive and very loud. It was a small group that included a blue phase snow goose family. There were four goslings with the blue parents, and the parents were very protective of their young. Maybe their success in raising four goslings was due to their aggressiveness!

Here's the Blue Family!
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When we came to the Piasuk, Sandy and Brian had gone to finish the photo transects and then Brian was going to be dropped off in Barrow. However, Barrow was fogged in. No airplane traffic. And, the fog was rolling in on our Ikpikpuk Delta camp. We had been waiting for the plane to come back from Barrow, but seeing no plane, we called Barrow and found out that Brian was still back at camp. Larry went to pick him and Sandy up to bring them to help band. We had no way of communicating with them, so they had been waiting all afternoon.

Jeremy holds a goose with a rust-stained head. This is caused by feeding in or near ponds with lots of iron in the soil and water.
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One of the tasks that needs to be done is to prepare the bands. They come on a string already clamped in rings. So, they need to be spread apart with another special tool and placed on rubber hoses in numeric order to be ready to go during banding.

Here's Brian and Jeremy spreading bands.
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Some caribou passed to the north of us on their way to Smith Bay. They were across a slough from our banding site, but it made a good picture behind the nets. There were a few pretty big bulls in the small herd.

Passing caribou
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After finishing our 4th banding drive on the Piasuk, we all headed back to camp. The small R44 helicopter that Larry flies follows so closely to the ground that we were able to make it under the fog back to camp. I was glad we didnít have to wait it out on the Piasuk delta with nine people and one tent.

The fog brought in the chill off of the ocean so it has definitely cooled down. Weíll see how it looks for getting Brian to Barrow tomorrow morning.
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