Started early, found the dogs

(So much for my homage to Emily Dickinson).

I managed to haul my carcass out of bed this morning at 6, and we went out to look for ptarmigan.  Finch has been very gentle about my sleep-wallowing ways so far on this trip — typically he’s gone out early and come back to meet me for breakfast.  Since the light hasn’t been fantastic anyway, I haven’t felt like I really missed much, though he did have a glorious encounter with about 15 reindeer a couple of days ago.

This is the most luxurious birding, really, where the town is easy to go back to and you can leave your insulated mug of tea in the car for when you climb down off the hill you’ve flogged up.  Lots of switching off of layers of clothing as the wind changes.

Today, we didn’t have to even go past the dog kennels, right on the edge of town, before we spotted a much-sought-after Ivory Gull.  They don’t much visit south, and we haven’t seen one yet on this trip.

This one — whom I called Charlie — had found something underneath this pallet.

Clearly, it was something worth risking such proximity to large bipeds.

It let us hang out far longer than we expected, though it flew off and circled back a couple of times when cars passed.

When it was on the pole, Finch did a naughty birder thing and pulled out what was under the pallet, to lure it back.  It was seal meat, clearly intended for the dogs, clearly placed under the pallet to keep the gulls away.

It was a smorgasbord for Charlie.  He’d eat, then fly off for a bit, then eat more. 

Once, he flew down the road to bathe in a small pool.  We stalked him, and he was very tolerant.

I retreated into the car for a bit, my fingers numb and frozen (that Raynaud’s thing is such a difficulty for photography), while Finch crowed with delight at finding Charlie.

From inside the car, I spotted a red phalarope across the road, and went in search of it. I was dive-bombed by arctic terns again, but it didn’t flee.

Finch joined me, after dragging the bag of seal back under the pallet, and the terns decided he needed to be shat upon.  Again.

When the phalarope disappeared with a couple of dunlins, we went further down the road.  The brooding red throated loon was still on her nest, where we’ve seen her every day, but her mate was there today.  I caught him as he launched.

No ptarmigans, but a perfect morning.  And now into the wilderness.


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