Have you seen my SESA?

April, 2012
Our past three years of work in Suriname and French Guiana have begun to reap rewards.  Semipalmated Sandpipers that our teams have banded in these countries have been seen or re-captured elsewhere.  This is an important step in helping to understand where the birds that use Delaware Bay as a refueling stopover in spring are coming from, and where they are going.  With the unique flag colors and letter/number codes for each country, it's relatively easy to at least determine the country where the bird was banded (by the flag color) even if the code cannot be read.  Here are a few of the recent resightings:

There and Back Again – Semipalmated Sandpipers banded in Delaware Bay
return to wintering grounds in Suriname
NJAudubon’s research team, led by Dr. David Mizrahi, recently returned from their third year of field work on Semipalmated Sandpipers (SESA) in Suriname.  During the 3 weeks of fieldwork this past April on the Surinamese mudflats,  2 birds originally banded in Delaware Bay were recaptured.  One of the birds was originally banded in 2010, and the other in 2011.  The birds were identified by the green plastic flag band on their leg, each with a unique 3-letter/number code.  


Banded in Delaware Bay spring of 2011; Recaptured in Suriname spring of 2012 Banded in Delaware Bay spring of 2010; recaptured in Suriname spring of 2012

Below is a photo taken by Charles Randal Smith in Markham, Ontario, June 6, 2012,  of a Semipalmated Sandpiper banded by our team in Brazil this past January.  You can see the blue plastic flag band on the bottom right bird in the photo.   And, not to be missed, here's a photo of one of the birds banded in French Guiana (black plastic flag) which was taken on 03June 2012 in Barrow, Alaska.  Yes, folks, that's snow on the ground, not sand!  Here, again, this bird traveled approximately 6,700 miles from its wintering grounds in French Guiana, to reach this patch of snow in Alaska.  Now that's flying!

Banded in Brazil January, 2012; resighted in Ontario on 06Jun 2012 Banded in French Guiana; resighted in Barrow, AK

Identification – Protection – Education – Preservation: vital links in any conservation plan
A major new link in the chain of protection growing through the international conservation plan for SESA  is public education and efforts to encourage the local population to cease shorebird hunting practices.  Idris Fredison, a Suriname native and environmental educator, spent time with NJAudubon during spring, 2009 working with our field team on Delaware Bay beaches.  The past 2 years, he has worked with our research team in Suriname, bringing school groups to the study site to learn about conservation and what they can do in their own country to help.  Dr. Mizrahi and colleague Dr. Arie Spaans also met with various Surinamese organizations to continue the habitat preservation efforts of this international project.  This includes a shorebird education program in their primary schools.