Sunday, May 31, 2009

Loons Starting to Arrive

After several days of wintery type weather, today broke sunny and warm.  It was calm for part of the day and the bright sunlight reflecting off the snow made it feel even warmer than it was.  With the temperature getting all the way up to +39F, the snow really started melting, which is good as we were still averaging 4 inches of snow on the ground at 75% coverage.  A beautiful day like today makes one think that we are going to have a spring after all.  It was also the first day to see cumulus clouds building to the south, a sure sign of warmer weather.

The numbers of local breeding White-fronted Geese have leveled off, but the Brant are still streaming in.  In the local area, we now have over 400 pairs, as well as some of the returning last year’s young.  A lot of pairs of Brant have already selected nesting sites and I found the first nest with one egg this afternoon.  This puts the season about a week ahead of the average yearly start for egg laying.

The first loon was sighted yesterday afternoon, a Yellow-billed Loon flying up the river.  Today I spotted a Red-throated Loon fishing in the river in the morning, and another one was seen in the afternoon flying over the West Nesting Area calling and then landing in the river. 

We now have four pair of Long-tailed Ducks, several pairs of Northern Pintails, Greater Scaup, Tundra Swans,12 pair of Sabine’s Gulls, and a pair of Arctic Terns spending time in the melt water around the edge of our big lake or in some of the nearby tundra ponds that are melting out.  The air around the house is beginning to fill with bird song at all hours now.  


Female Red Phalarope


Male Lapland Longspur napping during snow storm.


Sabine’s Gull on a bright sunny day.

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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.