I know we are not supposed to ascribe human characteristics to animals, but I have a special feeling for Great Knots (maybe it’s the short legs and pot belly) and this amazing story from the Global Flyway Network of a particularly adventurous individual really caught my attention. Her name is 6RRBR (try saying that aloud – it really rolls off the tongue – to me, it sounds like a Beijing taxi driver!). Actually we don’t know if 6RRBR is male or female, but I think she may be female because she left the breeding site quite early and the tradition is for males to stay on site and take care of the young birds. I can imagine her, lifting off from the nesting ground, thinking, ok, the kids are taken care of, let me go exploring! First thing is to find out where this land ends, what’s up there if I keep going north? Cold, open sea, it turns out. Well, how about over here? I’ve never been here before. It seems Alaska is quite hospitable, though it very rarely sees Great Knots on its shores. Then back along the sparsely populated coastlines of Chukotka, Kamchatka and DPRK, popping in here and there, before passing through “Spoonie Central” in Rudong, China. Finally, in late October, she is thinking the cockles must be getting fat in Roebuck Bay – time to settle down for the winter, or should that be summer!
What’s amazing is not just the journey, but that, through satellite tagging, we can vicariously share her voyage, see where she alights, and through communication among researchers, we can physically observe her, probing the coastal mudflats, in Russia, in Alaska, in China. Wow, talk about connectivity! How can you not feel a kinship with 6RRBR, imagining her world, through her eyes? Amazing.
Download the report, ‘PTT 36 likes to be photographed,’ by The PTT Team – Chris Hassell, Lee Tibbetts, Ying Chi Chan and Theunis Piersma.