Monday, May 23, 2011

A SESA in my Hand!

I was nearly hyperventilating when I learned I would handle my first shorebird "catch". I've waited out numerous Sundays at the Field House hoping for such. The team works 24/7...... so Sundays are as low-key as possible..... and tourist disturbances discourage a "catch day".
This blustery Sunday afternoon the "walk-in traps" were set at a rising high tide for Semi-palmated Sandpipers a.k.a. SESA. I peered out the "conservatory" watching the team. By the body language alone I could tell this would take a while and the catch would be small.
At last 5 hapless SESA's foraged their way in to the burlap box; popping up and down like giant popcorn kernels. First outside the birds were "bled" for examination of bacteria. The physical measurements were taken inside at the " computer data lounge" despite the fact that an escaped bird would create utter havoc. Micrograms of chopped feathers destined for gas-chromatograph analysis could go up in "smoke" decimating 100's of hours of good data.
I sat next to Richard as he deftly handled and analyzed each bird. The SESA was trying to keep calm and was 100% aware. I was trying to keep calm!
Watching the SESA stuffed into his tube and then out again after weighing was comical.
Finally my moment arrived outside on the bay beach. I learned how to receive and "let go" my 25 gram charge of beating feathers. My SESA's took a second or two for their GPS to re-set and off they went with a date soon for Arctic arrival!

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