Friday, October 12, 2012

June 30 - fluffy babies

You can see the flowers in the foreground that are now on the high barren areas on this fine late-June day 

Today I did the 3s with Elin, and the late season was readily evident. Birdsong has been greatly reduced for days now, mosquitoes and other wee winged beasties are out in force, and we saw chicks finally!
Right at the edge of the study area we saw two broods with at least one chick per family. Adorable critters, baby Semi Sandpipers have cryptic rufous, brown, and silver flecked fuzz, and are basically cottonballs with legs. How can you not love that? After all of the predation it was so nice to see some living progeny of all these hard working shorebirds.

The leg-to-body ratio of juvenile shorebirds is fairly comical

I also found a nest with three eggs, all with tiny beak tips protruding from little holes in the shell – in the process of hatching! Otherwise the day was very slow, the lowest number of nests found today by all parties in a day since the first day of nest finding.
The other highlight, non-bird, was having a herd of caribou come within 40m or so. I saw them working along the edge of the swamp, so I laid down in the direction they were headed, where luckily the wind was in a direction that blew my scent away from the herd. About 90 individuals in total, so a small group, but led by an impressive group of four old bucks with very nice sets of antlers. The others followed this quartet of leaders, mixed adults and calved picking their way across the tundra. This group was part of a couple thousand caribou in the area today, a nice mammal-filled day.

In addition to the shorebirds, fledgling Lapland Longspurs are also underfoot quite often now

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