Polar Bear Blog – Camp Nanuq Meltdown

The wind has circled yet again, starting from the east a couple days go, drifting to the south and now coming straight off the bay to the northwest. It is a familiar pattern now. The east wind brings fog and cool, moist days (nothing good comes from an east wind). Soon, this broken by a south wind pushing heat from the land and the hardy few break out their shorts for a one day reprieve from a sub-arctic winter.

The warm air has a price, however. As it hits the bay, it cools and clouds form. With a west wind, another front might combine with these newly formed clouds and a welcome thunderstorm passes through, lightning striking seemingly just across the lake. The north wind always has the final say up here. The other directions are only buying time before old man winter shows up. Temperatures drop once again yet the north wind is not unwelcome, it will push the clouds inland, bringing the sun back for a few days before the circle starts all over again. But, today, the sun is just starting to break through the rain clouds. A pervasive white glow sits atop the blue horizon. Rain has changed the browns, greys and blahs of spring to greens, reds, yellows and slightly better browns. It highlights the blues, grays and blacks of rotting ice and meltwater pools. Newly arrived birds light on the open water, hoping that their landing strip is long enough. The land is starting to move again. This morning, a red fox cruised through, investigating the base of each and every wind-beaten tree, casually searching for rodents or bird nests or anything.

A light-phase rough-legged hawks cruises in the wind, wing span pivoting with each gust; cruising and checking to see what the fox might have missed. Battered battalions of snow geese fly back and forth, their migration interrupted by squadrons of goose hunters.

Pairs of tundra swans are claiming their lakes for the summer while the first Pacific Loons are just arriving. Robins perch on the hydro wires, white-crowned sparrows hop from seed to withered seed. Bonaparte’s gull noisily breed, aggressively claiming their nesting area until a not-quite-legal bullet brings peace to the land once again.

Male ptarmigan, with bright red eyebrows, climb the remaining snowdrifts with gargled calls. Here they will sit and wait to be taken by predators as the female and young lay camoflauged nearby.

Ravens watch quietly, noting which nests to raid over the next weeks and swapping tales of another long, cold winter. Real locals don’t go south for the season.

Seals begin to bask on the floe edge, still visible from shore. It has been a good floe edge season. A polar bear with two cubs was spotted feeding on a large bearded seal. The goose hunters are returning from Button Bay, the bag limit of ‘no bag limit’ successfully met for yet another year.

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