Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Break-up Over

This morning (May 27th) the last of the up-river channel ice drifted by and the river is open to boating above the Lodge.  The channel is still plugged with ice on down stream of the house to the ocean.  It was a long, drawn-out process this year, but in the end the only thing that was impacted was the runway being under water for several days.  Depending on weather, it could take up to two weeks for all of the runway to dry out and be usable. 

Yesterday morning we awoke to 4.5 inches of fresh and very wet snow on the ground and the area was back to 100% snow cover.  This brought the Ruddy Turnstones and Lapland Longspurs back to the feeders in large numbers.  Many of the longspurs were just staying by the feeders, roosting out of the wind and snow and not going back out to their territories.  With over 50 turnstones feeding with the Snow Buntings and longspurs it took lots of seed and fish to get through the stormy day.  By late evening, clearing skies warmed up the day and with the ensuing melting the feeder birds started moving back out on the tundra.

Even with all the stormy weather, more birds have arrived and we now have over 250 pair of brant.  They, along with the other geese (white-fronted and snow), are busy checking out nesting spots in the surrounding nesting areas.  New birds are American Golden Plover, Long-billed Dowitcher, Red Phalarope, Northern Pintail, Long-tailed Duck, Savanna Sparrow, and today our first pair of King Eiders.


Pair of Red Phalarope’s  just returned to the Arctic. 


Male Lapland Longspurs waiting out the storm near the feeders.


  1. love your blog Jim, reading about the birds takes me right back there - all the way from the south of the UK. Are the loons calling?

  2. Hello Mary. This is Teena, Jim is having computer problems and hasn't been able to post a reply comment to you. No, the loons have not been very vocal yet, but are busy locating territories and nest sites. Red-throats and Yellow-billed loons are here, but haven't seen any Pacific loons yet. The ice and snow have melted a lot in the past two days, so it's finally starting to look like summer here.


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Arctic Smoke Signals by James W. Helmericks is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.