Woke up to a bright and warm morning and as I brushed my teeth at Camp lake I was surprised at how much ice had melted away, The pack ice is melting real fast now. A Red Necked Phalarope feeds against the nearest ice pack with 3 Sabines Gulls close by. We head out and start to search for nests.
Once a nest is discovered we process the clutch which consists of marking the eggs numerically with a felt pen. Then measuring the length and the width and finally they are floated in a jar of tepid water. This is done and the angle that the eggs sits at is measured with a protractor and also the amount that sits above the water (if at all). Back at the office in the evening all of the details are entered in to pre-designed log book. The floating of the eggs is to determine the initiation date and the estimated hatch date which is done by taking the information, transferring the angle measurements to a pre-designed data sheet. It involves calculating all of the measurements, add each measurement, then times the measurement and then divide the measurement by the number of eggs and there is your answer! which is pretty much bang on!
The things you find out on the Tundra, as well as this Caribou skull other items found out on the Tundra consist of regular number of shotgun cartridges, empty Malboro cigarette packets, several empty cans of Pepsi and the most surprising thing was a dumped Snow Machine! obviously all just items disguarded by the locals.
Whilst processing several nests today birds seen included a Ruddy Turnstone (the first of the trip), Glaucous Gulls readily passing overhead, 2 Long tailed Skuas loafed about today and a new dark phase Arctic Skua appeared and was a rather smart looking individual. Red Necked Phalaropes keep busy chasing after each other as they become more promiscuous as time goes by.
I was just trying to track a Dunlin that I suspected had a nest nearby when the Arctic Skua's went up and started calling and really going crazy, I have not heard them so vocal so far and I couldn't help but take my eyes off of the Dunlin, as I looked up , a Short Eared Owl was just drifting overhead real low down, we locked eyes as I was sitting low and those yellow eyes just took me back to years gone by when I saw my first Short Eared Owl & reminded of friends back home etc. The now resident family group of 3 adults and 2 young Caribou were again present to the south of camp again this afternoon.
The photo above shows the Ice melt at camp lake with some snow still visible on the lower flanks of the hills in the distance. After dinner I had a short stroll down to then end of the bar of land that separates camp lake from camp lagoon, A few Western Sandpipers, Red Necked Phalaropes, Barwits and Dunlin feed in a small pool at the tip of the land bar. I make this the "Patch" and call it "The Point" and decide to check this out on a daily basis as it is a short walk and has nice viewing and light conditions late evening. Late evening is pretty much when I have time to take a stroll and do a bit of personal birding. This is due to the fact I am here to work and also I just can not carry a Scope and Tripod as well as all the other equipment, Shotgun etc, and so I take an a stroll most nights after all the work is completed etc. This is also the time I try to take any photos. After this I head back to my tent and stretch out to sleep. I am surprised at the volume of noise just from the birds, Pacific Divers call out for hours on end, Dunlin and Semi Palmated Sandpipers buzz around, Arctic Terns and Skuas create a scene to mob anything that goes close their nests.