Today was sunny, warm (~60 degrees!) and calm. Obviously I was excited for the butterflies, but not so much about the mosquitoes. I had no idea that a huuuuuuge herd of Caribou would be coming through today, at least 1500 strong spanning the horizon. Quite a sight to see!
We had quite a walk to our sites to collect vegetation, and with the amount of Caribou, there are bound to be bears around, so we were packing heat in the form of a shotgun. Luckily, it didn't need to be used. On the walk I used my pathetic excuse for a butterfly net to trap butterflies. About 50% of them escaped the contraption, but the other 50% were harassed with my camera. Quite a few Booth's, Hecla and Labrador Sulphurs were around, but I didn't bother with them. I caught quite a few Fritillaries, and was surprised to find one that I have yet to see this season... I think.
First I'll start with the Arctic Fritillary, one I have seen this field season.
|Pretty typical Arctic Fritillary (Boloria chariclea) underside.|
|Arctic Fritillary (Boloria chariclea) upperside.|
|Freija Fritillary, I think, underside. It isn't just a really fresh Arctic, is it? Opinions welcome.|
|Obviously more dark above than the Arctic Fritillary earlier in the post, with bigger/darker spots.|
With this job wrapping up, you may be wondering what I'm doing after. I will be attending a friends wedding right as I get back to Michigan, then it looks like I'm coming back to Alaska. I will either be observing seabirds on a 3 week cruise through the Beaufort Sea on a converted crabbing vessel, or I will be "volunteering" as an observer on a ~9 day cruise starting in Adak and hitting the eastern Aleutians to pick up seabird crews that are finishing their field season. If I can get a "cold water immersion" class before the Beaufort trip, I will be observing on that. If I can't, I'm heading for Adak. Either way, its certain not to disappoint!