Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fairbanks prelude

Fairbanks airport and surrounding city from the air.

Our journey started off in the center of the state, in the city of Fairbanks. We flew up there on the 29th of May, having a couple days of prep and groundwork to do before we headed out into the middle of nowhere. The crew included five members from the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, a non-profit organization that I have worked for doing songbird banding for many years, and also happens to be the place/experience that got me interested in birds initially. The five Manomet people were me, Brad Winn, Alan Kneidel, Laura Koloski, and Mark LaFaver. Unfortunately I never got a group photo of everyone at any point throughout the trip!
The rest of the crew was made up of employees of the US Fish & Wildlife Service, with Scott Freeman being the crew leader, and Elin Pierce and Alfredo Soto rounding out our eight-person crew. The whole project is a joint effort between Manomet and the USF&WS, with funding provided by grants from both sides. The project is part of a larger network of research sites, the Arctic Demographic Shorebird Network.
On June 1 five of the crewmembers headed north in trucks, driving all day from Fairbanks to a remote airstrip at Galbraith Lake, north along the Dalton Highway, and just south of the Brooks Range. The following day they started flying into camp, leaving in bush planes from Galbraith and flying over the mountains to the coastal plain, where they landed on a frozen lake, as we all would, where they begun to set up camp.
The three remaining people, one of which was me, stayed one more night in Fairbanks, and then flew from Fairbanks to the Canning directly, with a stop at Kavik Airstrip, another tiny airstrip in the middle of nowhere, this one on the north side of the Brooks Range.

Boreal Chickadee nesting right outside our hotel in Fairbanks

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