The nest-finding-frenzy has begun. In just the last few days, I've tracked down over 40 nests of arctic breeding birds including Greater White-Fronted Goose, Brant, Red Phalarope, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Willow and Rock Ptarmigan, among others.
And where there are nests, there are predators. All season the Red Foxes were extremely skittish. Yesterday, they walked right up to me. Why the sudden change of heart? It offered a good photography session, though.
Today (6/10) we had our first glimpse of the sun in many days. The overcast, windy, cloudy days really kill the photography aspect of being in the field, so I focused on re-sighting birds we banded last year and finding early nesting birds. Long-tailed Ducks have been around for a while and are obviously paired up. This male was curiously guarding his female.
I was thrilled when this stunning Ruff found me just north of camp. Like the one last year, this one flew at me, landed a little ways out, pecked around for a minute or two, and took off. No one else saw it, and I'll be surprised if it is seen again.
Even if you aren't a birder, or even a big fan of birds in general, it is hard not to enjoy the male King Eider.
Weather has been very windy the last week, with gusts over 40mph. It makes field work challenging, especially when temperatures still aren't breaking 40 degrees, except maybe today.
For the next 3-4 weeks, we will be very busy finding nests, monitoring their success or demise, banding adults, collecting invertebrate samples, surveying for predators, all while attempting to sleep once in a while. This is more like it!