Friday, June 17, 2011

We're Not in Kansas Anymore

 [Snow Buntings nest all around town in Barrow - the House Finches of the north, with a voice not dissimilar.]

This may be far enough, this place called Barrow. Which is a good thing, because it's about as far as you can go.

I'm envious of the birds here. They are at the peak of excitement now, the height of their lives in this month of June, displaying, singing, chasing, breeding under the midnight sun (82 days of no sunset). Then they mellow and migrate away, like people getting old. But they get to do it again next year, and the next while we humans mellow, age, maybe (I hope not) even languish, and never can go back to our Arctic summer.

We'll ignore the 65 days of no sunrise here. It's a dry town. Good thing.

 [Distant Steller's Eider, the last digit on the lifer odometer rolls over yet again. We found multiple Spectacled Eiders as well.]

Our arrival day was rain, cold and mud - but still no dark, so I drove around getting the lay of the land, retiring, still in light, around 1:00 a.m. The "dawn" (i.e. when I woke up) broke clear, and stayed that way all day, lighting up hovering singing Dunlin, booming Pectoral Sandpipers, light and dark Parasitic and Pomarine Jaegers, little Semipalmated Sandpipers perched on snowbanks. Three Snowy Owls, all bright white males, hunted while their mates presumably incubate. Pacific and Red-throated Loons wail. It's a good place.

 [Red Phalarope. Lots of these, and Red-necked, too.]

[Long-tailed Ducks.]

[Nope, not Kansas. Whale bones frame the Arctic Ocean.]


  1. You are envious? What about the birders who have never been there?!!! Great Long-tailed Oldsquaw shot.

  2. @ Seagull Steve, thanks for the comment & compliment, and what about all the birders who leave tomorrow and might never get back here? ;>), although my tour leading days may be over after this one - new job, etc. etc.