As Inuit researcher Jobie Atagootak gives Tom Arnbom from WWF a lesson on edible Arctic plants, suddenly they hear a chorus of alarm calls from a group of common ringed plovers nearby. Looking up, they see it. A gyrfalcon zooms by above them, quick as a flash.
The gyrfalcon, known by the Inuit as kilgavikpak, is among the toughest birds in the world and one of only a few species that thrives in the harsh Arctic winter. This far north, many have almost white plumage but this one was darker brown.
Normally gyrfalcons feed on ptarmigans – similar to grouse and a bit like the “chicken” of the Arctic. But here in Tremblay, there are not many ptarmigans around so the gyrfalcons go for any bird they can catch. This includes common ringed plovers, which explains the loud distress peeps heard by Tom and Jobie just before this fantastic aerial predator appeared. This rare gyrfalcon sighting is added to the data log of seabirds being collected as part of the science program at Tremblay.