Wednesday, 6 June 2007

No Polar Bears yet

On the flight to Barrow, over the frozen moonscape of lakes, I would get different stories related to the Polar Bears: “you'll be on the Tundra? You need a gun!” to “they're afraid of the Eskimos” (which is apparently not a derogatory word in the Alaska). But on my third night here, our cast and crew of birders are out a hours with scopes and binoculars, staring out into the jagged mountains of cracked sea ice, hoping for a bear or a bearded seal... and I mean literally all hours of the day. The sun never sets, of course, at 71 degrees, and with the crazy birder enthusiasm of some of these people is always itching at them. But it is a birders paradise here, full of birds you'd rarely see inland, now breading in the Tundra, like Arctic Terns, Red and Red-Necked Phalaropes, Pomaine Jaegers (which are really cool, well all birds in the breading mode are generally doing something cool), Gyrfalcons, Ruddy Turnstones,etc.

Its really fun though, driving around on ATVs, armed to the teeth with winter and birder gear, looking for nests of birds. The people are great too. I'm out of my league in terms of bird skills, but I'm learning, so I get the most of it.

Its cold. The arctic wind doesn't stop, always 15 – 30 nauts. And if it stops, the sky will darken will flies.

We're all dudes. And there are no bars in Barrow. Its a “dry” town: prohibition is a reality, by municipal bylaw. Guess I'll get really into birds.

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