Canadian Arctic

Canadian Universities Alumni with Worldwide Quest

22 August to 4 September 2017

Pair of Red-throated Loons at Dundas Harbour on Devon Island Nunavut on 25 August 2017. VIDEO: behaviour and vocalizations. We did not see a juvenile Red-throated Loon. Maybe it was well hidden.


I thank Laurielle Penny and Justin Peter of Worldwide Quest for choosing me to be on the resource team for this expedition cruise.


Red-throated Loon at Pond Inlet on 29 August 2017


White morph Gyrfalcon at sea at 6:40 a.m. on 31 August 2017. We saw 5 white morph Gyrfalcons: 1 at Dundas Harbour, where there was a nest earlier in the season; one at sea near the entrance to Navy Board Inlet on 28 August; one at sea in Baffin Bay - photo above on 31 August 2017; 2 at the settlement of Qikiqtarjuaq on 1 September 2017.


Terry McIntyre took this photo of a white morph Gyrfalcon with a full crop. It almost landed on our ship while we were sailing in Baffin Bay on 31 August 2017.

On this trip, we saw five Gyrfalcons, the worldʼs largest falcon. Three were on land and two were at sea where one Gyrfalcon carried prey in its talons and the other had a full crop, having recently eaten. We discovered that Gyrfalcons are as comfortable hunting at sea as they are on land. During 2000-2004, researchers in Greenland tagged 48 Gyrfalcons with satellite transmitters. They determined the breeding home range of some female Gyrfalcons varied from 140 to 1197 square km and for two males it was around 500 square km. Wintering ranges involved long distances and time spent at sea. For example an adult male Gyrfalcon travelled 3137 km over a 38-day period (83 km⁄day) from northern Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, to its winter range in southern Greenland, and an adult female travelled 4234 km from Thule in northwest Greenland to southern Greenland via eastern Canada over an 83-day period (51 km⁄day). However some birds simply wandered continuously during the non breeding season, presumably resting on sea ice and icebergs and feeding on seabirds. This research highlighted the huge size of the winter range of Gyrfalcons, including at sea, and the importance of sea ice far from land. Reference: Ibis, International Journal of Avian Science. Seasonal Movements of Gyrfalcons falco rusticus include extensive periods at sea. Authors Kurt K. Burnham and Ian Newton.


Juvenile Snow Bunting at Qikiqtarjuaq on 1 September 2017


Arctic Poppies at Qikiqtarjuaq on 1 September 2017


Links: Northwest Passage 1, 2017 and Arctic Gulls 2017