When we got to Chile this year, one of the first things that we needed to do was to find where the birds were. Once we did that, we started looking for birds that had already been caught and banded in previous winters in Chile. Typically, Whimbrels are easier to resight, partly because wintering Whimbrels are very sight faithful, and will return to the same sight winter after winter, so all one has to do is return to the sight where the birds were caught. Whimbrels are also bigger, and sport larger leg flags, and are thus easier to read. Godwits, on the other hand, are not as site faithful, and there are more likely to be many thousands more godwits in any one place. In addition, godwit leg flags are smaller and harder to read. However, there are also more tagged godwits out there, which makes finding more of them easier. Resighting is important because it helps to establish suvivorship rates over the years (this is the fifth year that this project has been going in Chile).
Recently flagged Hudsonian Godwit. Can you read the alpha code on the red flag?
A mixed flock of Hudsonian Godwits, Surfbirds, Brown-hooded Gulls, and Franklin's Gulls.
Nathan searching for flagged godwits at Putemun.
Hudsonian Godwit footprints. Here, they flew away before I could get close enough to read any flags.
Pullao, one of my favorite places that we searched for godwits and Whimbrel
During our time on Chiloe, we had several key sites that we visited several times, all around the area of Castro (the capital of Chiloe). These sites included Putemun (which was a large estuary behind the cabañas where we were staying, and also my least favorite place, due to its muck), Pullao (where we spent a lot of time resighting and catching birds), Rílan, and Curaco (both of these two sites were on a smaller island, Quinchao, which is accessible by ferry from the town of Dalcahue).Resighting was both fun and frustrating. While frustrating due to the difficulty in reading flags, it was also fun, because it brought me to new sites and I got to watch birds for hours on end. While there wasn’t a great diversity of birds at these sites, it was always awesome to see large numbers of godwits and whimbrel, as well as the assorted other birds that were found here.