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Western Sandpiper

Amie MacDonald, Biologist, Birds Canada
Motus Wildlife Tracking System Coordinator
49.058223, -123.141223

Motus research on Dunlin in the Fraser Estuary

Amie Macdonald

Video Transcript, Roberts Bank mudflat

Amie: I'm Amie MacDonald. I'm the Motus Wildlife Tracking System coordinator here in British Columbia with Birds Canada. We are out on the Delta tonight to capture Dunlin which are migratory shorebirds that migrate through the Fraser Delta and also some of them spend the winter here so we're catching dunlin to put tiny radio transmitters on them. The Fraser River Delta provides critical habitat for Western Sandpipers and Dunlin migrating along the Pacific Flyway and is recognized as a site of hemispheric importance by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. So we're doing this project tracking Dunlin because we want to know how they're moving around the Fraser Delta so that we can better understand what parts of the Delta are important habitats for Dunlin and hopefully that information will be able to inform conservation strategies and conservation planning.

Amie: The Motus Wildlife Tracking System is an international collaborative research network that aims to study the movement and ecology and conservation of small flying animals. Mostly that's birds but it can also be bats or insects as well. How it works essentially is there are receiver stations all over the landscape that are able to detect tagged animals. And what makes Motus interesting is all the tags that are put out on the animals operate at a specific frequency but still have a unique ID so any of the receiver systems in the network are able to detect any of the tagged animals in the network so it's not just your receivers that you set up that could detect birds you tag but also receivers all the way down in Mexico or up in northern BC or even Alaska could detect birds that we tag here in southwestern BC.

Amie: This is the track of a Dunlin we tagged at Brunswick Point and this bird was detected on three Motus stations around the Fraser Delta before migrating north and being detected on another Motus station in the Copper River Delta in Alaska. Taking a preliminary look at the data we can see that the dunlin are moving around the Fraser Delta quite a lot. They're moving back and forth between Brunswick Point and Boundary Bay as well as up to Iona Island and even making a few inland movements.

Amie: Being out here and being able to catch and handle wild birds is a real privilege and I try to always remember how much of a privilege it is to be able to get to work so closely with wild birds and get to observe them and hold them in the hand. So just being out here seeing the birds and getting to interact with them so closely is really amazing and a real privilege that I'm very glad to be able to do

Amie: This is a really collaborative project so there's lots of people and organizations that I'm very grateful to for their support and help with this project. So in terms of collaborators we have worked with the City of Surrey and the City of Delta and Metro Vancouver Parks to get Motus receiver stations up around the Fraser Delta as well as Anderson Elementary School in Richmond have also collaborated on this Motus work. And then in terms of helping with field work and collaborating on that front I'm very grateful to Environment and Climate Change Canada for their assistance as well as the several volunteers who've been able to come and join us to help in the field. We can't do it without them. And then also we've received funding from private donors and Environment and Climate Change Canada contributes to the Motus network as a whole quite a bit as well and they've set up a number of stations that have also benefited our work on Dunlin in the Fraser Delta too.