Saturday, June 18, 2011

Midnight in Alaska

 [Snowy Owl nest on a tundra hummock, Arctic Ocean in the distant background. She incubates, and waits. He hunts, and defends.]

We accidentally-on purpose ran into Denver Holt today, while we were (what and where else) scoping a Snowy Owl on her nest, with mate nearby attending. Denver gave us an overview of Snowy Owls in the Arctic: how lemmings drive the train, how pairs with hyper-aggressive males seem to be more successful at raising large broods.

[This apparent female Baird's Sandpiper waits while her mate rockets high and far in display flight.]

[Spectacled Eider and his mate. Check out this image of wintering Spectacled Eiders - cold seems not to be an issue for these birds, but climate change could be. Spectacled eiders winter in polynyas in the Bering Sea.]

[Alaskan cultural moment, Barrow today.]

[Presumed adult female Glaucous Gull quarrels with presumed immature male (larger, right) over Bowhead Whale blubber discarded after a successful Inupiat hunt, Point Barrow this evening. We'll be back to check the spoils again tomorrow - perhaps a fancier gull will show up. Or a Polar Bear.]

[Sun not-set over Barrow right now, as seen out my hotel room window at 11:46 p.m., looking north-northwest.]

Tomorrow's our last day here, so I had to stay up for the midnight sun. Can't sleep anyway - My body has always wanted to go to sleep within an hour of sundown and wake up a little before sun-up, long winter nights or short summer ones. Or no nighters here, apparently. Luckily Mark and I scored a free upgrade to first class for our flight from Fairbanks to Minneapolis on Sunday - sleepy time then, hopefully, with Arctic dreams, as Barry Lopez so aptly titled his book.

No comments:

Post a Comment