Earlier in the month this blog featured a couple of photos and a youtube film of the Snow Geese staging in Delaware, the state that is… not the fair city in Ohio.
As fascinating as it was to see thousands of geese gathered in fields and open water, it was also an opportunity to learn a bit more about their habits and migratory flights. Several of those geese were banded by researchers, and Paul Baicich was curious enough to research the origins of those bands.
Two of the four of our banded birds were uber-distance fliers, having been tagged at Bylot Island, Nunavut, Canada. Unfortunately, my knowledge of Canada ranges more to the Tim Horton’s experience, and less to the geography- so it was time to internet surf.
Bylot Island: the last stop off before Santa returns home to the North Pole. Much of the island is covered in mountains and glaciers, but its southern plains flatten out into wetlands providing habitat of rare plant quality and productivity for an Arctic environment. This “polar oasis” hosts more than 360 species of plants, 10 mammal species and 74 bird species. An important site for many migratory birds, Bylot Island was declared a Migratory Bird Sanctuary in 1965.
Established in 2001, Sirmilik National Park is most Bylot Island, except for a few pockets that are Inuit-owned lands. The fauna list is impressive too, ranging from Caribou, Artic Hare, Rock Ptarmigan, Lemmings, Arctic Fox, the Long-tailed Jaeger, Common Raven and Snowy Owl, all in addition to the geese!
And the vegetation? This place is loaded with sedges: Water Sedge [Carex aquatilis], White Cottongrass [Eriophorum scheuchzeri] and Tall Cottongrass [Eriophorum angustifolium]), grasses (Fisher’s Tundragrass [Dupontia fisheri], Polar Grass [Arctagrostis latifolia] and Semaphore Grass [Pleuropogon sabinei]) and many mosses species.
This would be the perfect place for a sedge-head to visit! Flora-Quest 2010, anyone? Thanks to the Snow Geese for a lesson in geography! Weedpicker