Shorebird surveys in the Queen Elizabeth Islands

Coordinate system: 4269 - "NAD83"


The high arctic shorebird surveys collect data about shorebird populations to identify habitat types, breeding, and nesting patterns. These data are part of the International Polar Year (IPY) program.

Shorebird surveys were conducted in three parts:

1. Aerial Surveys: Flight height = 30m, Flight speed = 80 kph. We marked (GPS) locations along the route that were large patches of monotypic habitat (wetlands, uplands: dense veg, uplands: sparse veg, uplands: shrubs, unvegetated).

2. “Low and slow” Aerial Surveys: Flight height = 10-15m, Flight speed = 40 kph. Surveys were conducted in large patches of monotypic habitat, particularly wetlands and uplands, dense vegetation, and habitat type was recorded and shorebirds were identified and recorded to species. Transect was marked (GPS) at the beginning and the end. Transect width was 100m on each side.

3. Ground Surveys: Surveys were conducted in wetlands and uplands, dense veg, or fine patchworks of the two. Habitat type was recorded and each surveyor walked around for 20-30 minutes, radiating outward from the helicopter. All birds seen or heard were recorded. Start and finish times and an estimate of ground covered were recorded. Location where helicopter landed was marked (GPS). ‘Rope drags’ were done at some ground survey locations. The area surrounding a wetland was systematically covered by both observers with a rope with soft trailers dangling from it stretched between them.

[Note: There is no standardized selection process for ‘low and slow’ flights or for ground surveys beyond the requirement for wetlands or areas where wetlands and uplands are present in a fine patchwork.]

The original data table is available from the Additional Documentation section. Please use with caution.

Additional Documentation