21 September, 2015

Island Girl Departs Baffin Island in a Spectacular Fashion

Welcome to the 2015 fall migration season.
This is the fourteenth leg of Island Girls migration since she was originally tagged in Chile and her seventh southbound journey carrying a radio. It is quite remarkable that both the falcon and the transmitter are still functioning.
Several people have asked how her transmitter battery could possibly have lasted this long.
It is a Microwave Telemetry (Maryland) GPS unit that has a solar panel mounted to the dorsal surface of the transmitter. So it has been charged by the sun all of these years. Solar power. Even more appropriate these days.
I called the company again this morning, as I have every year, told them that this unit was still working and thanked them for making such a great product.
They are celebrating the twenty-fifth company anniversary this year. Kathy Dykowsky is going to check and see if any other models of this transmitter have lasted this long. Could be a record. We'll see.

So Island Girl departed Baffin Island this year on Saturday morning, 19 September.
 But how she left....

By 0800, she was already flying SW directly out over the open ocean, crossing Hudson Strait and entirely bypassing the Ungava Peninsula. She continued SW heading directly for the north entry to Hudson Bay, wisely passing near by Salisbury Island, then Nottingham Island and finally down along the eastern shore of Mansel Island. All of these could have provided her a safe perch should she have needed it. Remember that this was her FIRST day of fall migration.
But she just continued right on flying into the vast sea, heading south.
By nightfall, she had crossed the entire length of Hudson Bay and had covered a distance of 1,228 km (763 miles) for the day, a truly remarkable first flight for the migration. No warm up flights for her.No short hops or conditioning flights at all. Just a huge jump all the way across the bay.
Don McCall figures that she had flown 940 km (584 miles) over open ocean on this first flight.
It is important to realize that if she had tired, there were no islands to stop on along this route. No safety nets.
She finally put in on the south shore of the bay, and roosted right on the coast in an area of beaches and dunes, no doubt with abundant food in the form of other migrant birds.
What a start to the season for her. And for all of us.
Here we go...


4 comments:

Anna said...

Wow. She is one tough cookie, that bird.

Anonymous said...

I had been checking the map for Island girl beginning September 14 and was astonished when I checked yesterday and saw the distance of her first day of southern migration! I notice she's taking shorter flights in the following two days.

Anonymous said...

She is amazing!!

Sue C said...

Good to see Island Girl is still surviving, and on the move. I am sure she could claim the record for carrying a Microwave Telemetry transmitter over the greatest distance.

There is a longer-lived working transmitter, carried by a Scottish osprey, Beatrice:

http://www.roydennis.org/animals/raptors/osprey/satellite-tracking/beatrice/

Latest - Autumn 2015

http://www.roydennis.org/category/osprey/beatrice/