Tuesday, September 25, 2012

June 17 - Pectoral Sandpiper

A gray day out by the Arctic Ocean

Today the string of good weather finally snapped, heralded when I awoke to the sound of rain drumming on my tent fly. It is interesting how the sounds of our tents say so much about the camp life, from being weather indicators or just letting you know where the lemmings are when you hear the scratching.
I know I always start each day off with a weather report, so cliché, but when your whole life is lived outdoors, the weather matters! It stayed clear most of the day, until we were walking back to camp around 5pm when we got to enjoy a half-hour trudge in sideways rain blowing in our faces. After we got back to camp it even hailed a bit! The interesting thing about all of this precipitation is that it is technically a desert by rainfall amounts here, so to have rain at all, much less at this time of year, is unusual.
For contrast, a nice day. If you look along the edge of the green on the left side you can see the camp tents, very tiny in the distance

The running joke around camp whenever it drizzled or snowed or hailed would just be “Drier than Tucson!”, which technically it was. Not necessarily the wittiest thing ever, but when you’re in the middle of nowhere any humor is good humor.
Another anomalous weather pattern today were the winds, which were from the west, the direction that brings bad weather like summer blizzards, which don’t usually come until July. Our normal wind direction is from the northeast, biting cold coming off of the great expanse of the Arctic Ocean pack ice.
I found four nests today, including two of the cagier Pectoral Sandpiper, harder to find than the very numerous Semipalmated Sandpiper, the latter of which makes up about half of all of our nests found.

Pectoral Sandpiper eggs in nest, gorgeous large dark blotchy eggs

Pectoral Sandpiper female watching me intently as I leave her nest area

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