Thursday, July 16, 2009

July update 7/16

Baird's Sandpiper

Things are slowing down here on the tundra and only a few nests remain on our study plots. Even though a lot of chicks hatched, the majority of the clutches were predated – probably around 60%. This is partially due to it being a lemming crash year. Predators such as jaegers and foxes feed on lemmings and when numbers are low, shorebird eggs are next on their menu. During the past month and a half, I personally saw only one Brown Lemming. Last year a few hundred a day wasn’t out of the question. Here are a few chick photos..

Semipalmated Sandpiper chick (the white dot on its bill is an egg tooth which helps them break through their shells)

Red-necked Phalarope chick

Red-necked Phalarope chick point-of-view

Dunlin chicks

Two days ago we experienced record high temperatures reaching somewhere in the low 70’s. I would have never guessed that 70 degrees would feel too hot but we were feeling it. Every year the Barrow shorebird group partakes in a ‘mandatory’ polar bear dive in the Arctic Ocean. With water temps barely above freezing, it’s actually not that cold…you just instantly go numb!

The height of the moment when we were asking what did we get ourselves into?

The rest of the season will be spent monitoring the last remaining nests, data entry and gear cleanup/inventory. I leave Barrow on August 1st and will be back in Ohio on the 10th. The time between will be spent birding around the Denali/Seward/Homer area with a few friends that I’ve been working with in Barrow. Until next time, cheers!

Semipalmated Plover - banded in '08


Anonymous said...

Is that SEPL behind the storage unit? If so, I helped band that guy! Have fun birding the rest of AK, it should be great.


trumbullbirder said...

Yeah and it sucessfully nested this year as well.

Dave Lewis said...

I hope you could swim! I'll pass on the frozen swim...see ya soon!

Billy Von Testle said...

Such a fine specimen