Sunday, July 29, 2007

Spectacled Eider, Barrow, Alaska, June 2007

Arriving on the morning flight and leaving the next evening we had 36 hours in Barrow. A small community at the very top of North America we had times our arrival to coincide with the melting of the ice on the tundra pools; soon enough for there to be open water but before the insects start to hatch. There would be skuas, phalaropes and Snowy Owls but I the bird I most wanted to see was Spectacled Eider. With a range off the coasts of Siberia and Alaska, Barrow is the place they are most accessible. We knew that they were around as departing birders had had up to three pairs on pools at the end of one of the roads. The first day produced great views of a female King Eider and frustrating views of something unidentifiable due to a combination of cold, wind and distance. Back out the next morning (having been up till 1 a.m. looking at Polar Bear) we were again scanning the same set of pools. Tucked in against the truck was the only way to use a scope; the wind was 20-30 mph and the temperature below freezing. One minute the pools were empty and the next, from out of nowhere, there was a pair of Spectacled Eider. They swam along the back of the pool and then flew towards us, pitching in about 200m from us. They stayed for about 10 minutes before they flew off inland.

 

Posted by Martin
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