Thursday, May 14, 2009

Snow Buntings

The cold weather continues with a strong winds and snow out of the west.  Temperatures have fallen and now stay below freezing through out the day, with the low around +12F the past two nights.   With three inches of fresh snow, all the melted-out tundra ridges from the first of the month are now bright white. 

I haven’t seen a glaucous gull since the 8th, but the white-fronted geese keep making a swing around the area looking for an WIPT_May_5335inviting spot.  They don’t stay long and are soon headed back to the east or farther up river where there is more melt water, as all the overflow around here has frozen over hard again.  We did have a flock of around 60 willow ptarmigan spend the night bedded down by the house. It was the first large flock seen this spring and most were males with various amounts of brown in their heads and necks. 

Teena made a trip to Deadhorse yesterday for mail and supplies and she saw several hundred White-fronted Geese, 50 Canada Geese, 20 Glaucous Gulls, 60 Willow Ptarmigan, a few Snow Buntings along the gravel road system, and the high light of the day for her a Rough-legged Hawk migrating east.  Many of the geese including the Canada’s were seen where the road crosses the Kupurak River, which was running in places from melt in the foothills.

The snowy weather hasn’t slowed our snow buntings down. They are busy defending their territories from other males and displaying for their females.  The cold has stopped any nest building activity, but that will resume with the first warm 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.