Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Good Day on the Tundra

 [Finally, a clean perched view of Smith's Longspur, at a tundra location that shall remained undisclosed.]

I hate lying, can't do it well, don't like it being done to me, so when folks have asked me about the Smith's Longspur (folks including leaders of 2 major tour companies and counting), I waffle and wince. "We haven't had much luck," I say, keeping the confidence of the friend who gave us the spot and asked us not to tell anyone. Until this morning, the poor luck was true, sort of, with only fly-by looks for most participants. Our early morning expedition did better.

 [This American Golden-plover started a distraction display, and I backed away.]

We spent a chilly day on the Denali Highway, the first forty miles of it out of Paxson - tundra ponds for ducks, tundra for shorebirds, willows for Arctic Warbler, and rocks for Pika and, well, see below.

Speaking of chilly, have I mentioned I've been sleeping in an unheated tent the past few nights? Good training, with temps in the 30's, for Barrow, where I'll hopefully be tomorrow night. The sun won't set, but the high temp is forecast to be 40, maybe. A Varied Thrush woke me here in Paxson this morning, at 3:00 a.m.

 [I think of northern North American Red Foxes as the "real" ones. They look different than the ones in the east, don't they? A lot of people, including some good biologists, think our eastern Red Foxes are solely from introduction from England; the "natives" were northern or mountain top animals. This one was on the Denali Highway today.]

 [Give us this day our daily Moose. . . this one swam a tundra lake, shaking like a dog when it reached the shore.]

 [Open country animals tend to be the right color, like this Rock Ptarmigan.]

1 comment:

  1. Just to be clear: I didn't force Don into the unheated tent, he selected that option!