Today was a busy day and the morning started off with a visit to the shooting range in order for me to get used to handling a shotgun and firing live ammunition. Prior to this Rick gave me a very detailed safety briefing on Bear encounters. If we are to encounter any Bears they will be Brown Bears. It was at this point the I began to understand the risks involved and the relevance of both the briefing and the practice today.
Whilst here at the range there were other people present as we arrived and between rounds of ammunition being fired I could hear Sandhill Cranes calling in the distance but didn't get to see any.
Being honest I don't actually wish to see any bears on this trip as much as I would like to see them in the wild I don't wish to get caught in an unsafe situation. As for firearms, well I have never been a fan them I have my reasons which I won't go in to here but I just don't like the pain and devastation they cause. I am only doing this as a safety precaution and as a mandatory request for expedition purposes.
After the shooting range we had to go on to a Culture awareness meeting in the afternoon and then it was back at Anchorage airport for our flight to Kotzebue. During this flight we crossed over and passed in to the Arctic Circle as per the video below.I have never seen the sea frozen like this before and it appears very powerful.
I have seen documentaries on TV and photos in books like these here in this posting but to actually see for myself and take my own photos is something else.This is a view I have wanted to witness for myself for a long time and exactly how I imagined the Arctic Tundra to look like from above (impressive isn't it)Arrival at Kotzebue airport, west Alaska.
The first birds present on arrival here were Red Necked Phalaroes and Semi Palmated Sandpipers seen before disembarking the plane. Glaucous Gulls flew over the lagoon near the bunk house and watching Tree Swallows feeding over packs of ice is surreal. An Arctic Warbler flitted around some sparse vegetation and American Robins sang from Telegraph poles nearby.
These photos were taken just prior to midnight hence the strange light, Tree Swallows were present and some were singing from various perches nearby.
Semi Palmated Sandpipers were all over the place and this bird was singing from a disused tyre in the front of a natives garden.
Red Necked Phalaropes were present in good numbers on every pool in the town.