Monday, June 21, 2010

No more skiing - but on the ice

The snow melting is now so progressed that skis are no longer necessary. I have done a bit of skiing though - on the sea ice again. I needed to go to the other side to check some ice cover on some lakes and the activity at a few fox dens. Also I climbed up the Zackenberg mountain to take some stiched panoramic photos for GeoBasis to be used in snow modelling for the valley. Up on the slope I saw and photographed a few arctic hares but they were not really cooperative. That was on the other hand a male rock ptarmigan which let me approach to about 5 m. It then started feeding and walked right towards me and within the nearest focus distance of the tele lens. While it was behind a rock, I quickly changed to a wide angle and got a few landscape shots with the bird in the foreground before it slowly passed me and moved away. It is so nice with these close range encounters, with animals not afraid of people. On the way back, I planned to look out for seals on the ice but none were up. I did go out another quiet evening though, were the midnight sun cast its golden low light over the ice. It may have been the noise from the skis against the snow and ice or my smell, as I could not get near any seals. They all went down at very big distances. I am not even sure they got suspicoius or if they just went to hunt fish. Yesterday, I had another nightly outing, checking fox dens again. I have previously found indications that the activity at the dens is somewhat higher during the night. The light is certainly more pleasing so I tried to make the most of both. I found small tracks at the den from wich I had earlier heard barks and at another, 4 small fox pups were huddling just inside a den hole. At a small lake called Østersøen ("The Baltic Sea") there was a small water bird paradise. Pairs of snow goose mingled with pairs of pinkfooted goose, red-throated divers, king eiders, 3 pintailed ducks and 2 pairs of longtailed duck. On my way back early in the early morning I made a detour to Halvøen ("The Peninsula"), a place I had never visited before. It will very soon be closed as part of the goose protection area. Geese moult along the coastline and are very sensitive to disturbance during that time. Within the next few days some of our plots will dry up and we will start setting up tents and greenhouses for climate manipulation experiments. More about that later!