Sunday, July 15, 2012

Home Stretch

First I'd like to say I have been horrible with updating my blog recently, my bad. I promise to update this more when I have a reliable internet connection and some more interesting news.

That said, there isn't much to talk about. For the most part, birds are done breeding and busy trying to protect their investments (for the lucky ones that actually successfully bred), or flocking up and staging for migration. Lets have a look at some youngsters.

You may have no idea as to what this little guy might grow up to be. I probably wouldn't have either if the adult Arctic Terns weren't actively calling and dive bombing me. As if that wasn't enough, they often poop on the intruder right before making contact...

This odd-shaped gray ball of fluff will (hopefully) turn out to be a Long-tailed Jaeger.

A few birds are still incubating. We found a very weird sight the other day. It seems two female Rock Ptarmigan are cooperatively incubating 11 eggs.

And their eggs

This female King Eider just recently hatched her six eggs and disappeared.

I've talked a lot about the bird life on the Colville this past season, but not about much else. Believe it or not, other life does thrive here. Right now, the most common wildlife is mosquitoes. They have been horrendous the past few days, worse than I have ever seen before. Luckily, we have some pretty serious bug jackets, but that doesn't stop them all. We haven't seen the massive caribou migration that we saw last season (in the thousands) and have only seen a few scattered around.

One thing I am seeing more of is moths! This fella was flying around the tundra the other day.

While the previous moth was cool, this Tiger Moth (sp?) takes the cake for the coolest moth I've seen up here. It was flying over the river while we were boating to our vegetation sites.

I have 13 days left at camp, a couple days in Anchorage, and will be spending about 3 1/2 weeks home (with a quick trip to SE AZ)before leaving for my next grand adventure. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Hatching and Leaving

The shorebirds are already flocking up and seem to be migrating. Female Red Phalarope have been absent for days, Pectoral Sandpipers are present in large numbers and roaming the tundra, and shorebirds, geese and the other arctic breeders are busy hatching and raising young. We have been very busy gathering data on hatch dates for all the species we can. I banded about 50 Semipalmated Sandpiper chicks, so hopefully a few will be captured in the years to come. Butterflies are hatching, and I've seen Polaris and Frigga Fritillary (I thought Polaris was biennial, but have seen them two summers in a row here), and Booth's and Hecla Sulphur. Nothing new from last year, but I'll keep an eye out.

Due to the insanely busy schedule since my last post, I haven't had much time for photography. Yesterday I was able to spend some "free" time photographing the ridiculously cooperative Stilt Sandpiper at it's nest. It was too close for my long lens, so I resorted to my 90mm macro. This lens is incredibly sharp!

The ptarmigan are also hatching young, and this male was sizing me up.

This Parasitic Jaeger tried to lead me away from their nest with some sort of floppy, injured bird dance type thing.

My next few weeks will consist of banding a few more adult shorebirds and monitoring the rest of the active nests. The weeks after that will be riddled with data entry. Hopefully some exciting birds will be moving through!