Migrations: A whimbrel’s wayward journey

A GPS tracker reveals an incredible Alaska journey.

This piece originally appeared on BirdNote, an independent media production company that brings joy, inspiration and hope to millions of people around the world who value birds and the environment we share. Support their work here. Cover photo: A whimbrel on Bay Farm Island, Oakland, California. (Doug Greenberg)

Biologists with Manomet tagged a Whimbrel named Lindsay with a GPS tracker. She has spent the summer breeding in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on the northern coast of Alaska. As fall migration begins, she heads straight into a storm in the Gulf of Alaska. The tempest slingshots her toward British Columbia, where she picks up a tailwind down the California coast. Landing near San Francisco, she rests and refuels.

Full transcript (written by Ariana Remmel; narrated by Mark Bramhill)

BirdNote®  A Whimbrel’s Wayward Journey

[Whimbrel calls: https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/167918431]
A Whimbrel named Lindsay has spent the summer breeding in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge on the northern coast of Alaska. But the seasons change, and it’s time for this shorebird to migrate south for the winter. Lucky for us, biologists with Manomet (MAN-uh-met), a bird research and conservation group, have tagged her with a GPS tracker so that we can follow along. 
First, Lindsay flies west across Alaska to spend a couple weeks on the coast packing on fat and building up her flight muscles. 
[Whimbrel calls ML207754]
But now Lindsay’s ready to go, launching out over the open ocean of the Gulf of Alaska and heading south. 
[Storm ambient]
A storm is brewing. Lindsay flies straight into the swirling currents of the tempest, which slingshot her toward British Columbia. There, she picks up a tailwind and sails down the California coast. 
[Whimbrel calls: https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/167918431]
After traversing more than twenty-three hundred miles over three days of non-stop flight above the open ocean, Lindsay lands safely on the beaches of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco. 
[Whimbrel calls ML207754]
Lindsay’s journey, while remarkable, is not uncommon for Whimbrels. For more information about Manomet and shorebird conservation, start at our website: BirdNote dot org. 
I’m Mark Bramhill. 

Senior Producer: John Kessler
Production Manager: Allison Wilson
Producer: Mark Bramhill
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
Digital Producer: Conor Gearin
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Whimbrel ML 167918431 recorded by Z. Pohlen. Whimbrel ML207754 recorded by B. McGuire. All weather and wave sounds from Nature Sound Essentials.
BirdNote’s theme was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
© October 2021 BirdNote      Narrator: Mark Bramhill

ID# WHIM-02-2021-10-04    WHIM-02