Ken and Beth’s Arctic Adventure: High Arctic – 6

Posted by on 13 Oct 2017 | Tagged as: Wandering Members

From Cape Hay we travelled west then south through Parry Channel to a stop at Navy Board Inlet. Wind had picked up and seas were too rough for zodiac travel.  Foiled again.

We continued on east to the settlement of Pond Inlet.  Late in the afternoon it became showery and the cliffs along the shore started to whiten.

This was the first night we had a short time of darkness.

Ken Gunn - Greeter in Pond InletWe arrived at Pond Inlet early the following morning and were ashore by 9:30. Pond Inlet is a community of about 2000 people and predates European arrival.  In Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit people, it is called Mittimatalik. We were expected, so were met and greeted as we climbed out of the zodiacs. One of the greeters was dressed in a beautiful fur coat so I complimented her on it.  She said “Yes, I bought it from the mail order store in Winnipeg (Manitoba).”  So much for native arts. 

We walked uphill through the community to a very modern Community Center.  The town has a school and school bus, at least one church, two stores, trucks delivering water and others collecting sewage, and an airstrip capable of accommodating 737s. Some of our group used the school bus for transportation, the rest of us straggled along and were gradually joined by several of the locals. Continue Reading »

Ken and Beth’s Arctic Adventure: High Arctic – 5

Posted by on 13 Oct 2017 | Tagged as: Wandering Members

 Young polar bear walking along shore of Cape Hay. Photo by Justin PeterAfter being overflown by the flock of Brandt Geese, we continued along off the shoreline south of Cape Hay and soon found what spooked the geese – two Polar Bears, both fairly young.  One was running up the cliff away from us, the other over the hill ahead of us.  As we drew nearer, we saw the reason for their fright and flight.  There was a very large, and probably mean, older bear in the water.  (The kayakers decided to stay in their tow-zodiac today.)  Apparently after putting the fear of Satan into the young bucks, he decided to go across the bay.  Since it was only three miles straight across and probably as much as four by land he decided to just swim across. Talk about being at home in the water. 

We travelled around the nearby point and caught up with one of the younger bears walking along the shore.  He was no longer running but boy could he cover a lot of ground just walking.  We followed him for about a mile and he never let up, still frightened of the bigger bear.  What a magnificent creature even though he was still not fully grown up.  When he got to the glacier he headed up the mountain beside it.       Continue Reading »

Ken and Beth’s Arctic Adventure: High Arctic – 4

Posted by on 12 Oct 2017 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

We travelled east then north from Dundas Harbor heading for Grise Fjord.  This was another of the forced relocation settlements of the 1950s.  It currently has a population of 125 and is the coldest permanently inhabited location in the world.  Unfortunately, heavy ice and strong winds caused our visit to be scrubbed.  Not sure I wanted to get any colder anyway.  Scenery along the north end of Devon Island and south end of Ellesmere Island was spectacular so the venture wasn’t a dead loss.

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Ken and Beth’s Arctic Adventure: High Arctic 3

Posted by on 12 Oct 2017 | Tagged as: Wandering Members

Thayer's Gull Dundas Harbour We ferried ashore to Dundas Harbor on Devon Island in the zodiacs and landed in shallow water on a sloping gravelly beach.  A Thayer Gull stood stoically on a nearby rocky section of shoreline probably quietly laughing at us slopping ashore. In spite of the all clear report by the scout team, at least six of the blue shirts carried bear blasters, large barrel weapons which shoot a non-life threatening explosive and two carried real rifles.  We were in big bear country. (A former Mountie on the staff team, with a lot of time in the Arctic, recounted asking an Inuit about hunting Polar Bear.  The native replied, “Don’t hunt Polar Bear, Polar Bear hunt me!”)

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Ken and Beth’s Arctic Adventure: High Arctic 2

Posted by on 12 Oct 2017 | Tagged as: Wandering Members

floating ice We raised anchor and headed out of Resolute Bay, heading east, as we were eating our first dinner aboard ship. Even though there were a few hours in which the sun was not above the horizon, it stayed quite light all night.  We were continually in broken ice but all pieces were small and had a beautiful blue tint. Fog was also an issue.

Beechey IslandOur scheduled stop next morning was tiny Beechey Island.  This is where Sir John Franklin chose to spend the winter of 1845-46 during his search for the Northwest Passage.  At that time, ships planning to winter in the Arctic would find what they considered a safe harbor, anchor and allow themselves to be frozen in for the next nine to ten months.  Some years the ice did not go out and the ship would remain frozen in through a second winter.  Three of Franklin’s men died over the winter and are buried on the island.  Their graves were found by searchers for the expedition in 1850 and the bodies were exhumed, sampled and photographed and returned to their graves in about 1980. The bodies were found to be perfectly preserved as they were buried in permafrost.

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Ken and Beth’s Arctic Adventure: High Arctic – 1

Posted by on 11 Oct 2017 | Tagged as: Wandering Members

Nunavut Communities MapBeth and I went on a cruise in the High Arctic at the end of August this year and it was an awesome experience.  Cruise is a stretch, as the vessel was a converted Russian research vessel.  The ship’s crew, cabin and wait staff were all Russian; the speakers, tour staff (blue shirts) who operated the zodiacs, served wine and tended bar, helped everywhere and were extremely knowledgeable about the Arctic, the animals and to a lesser degree the birds, and the cooks were a mixture of Canadians, Aussies, Brits and one American.  There were 150 persons on board of which 84 were tourists.  All of our journey was within the Canadian Territory of Nunavut, a jurisdiction just over three times the size of Texas and with a population of less than 50,000. The “ice-free” season is very short in the High Arctic, even with global warming.  Ice went out of the bay, where we embarked, on July 29 and on September 2 we saw the large oil supply tanker part way through its last run to the scattered communities before freeze-up. 

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Washington Oaks Gardens State Park field trip report, dec 8, 2016

Posted by on 19 Dec 2016 | Tagged as: birding

2016dec_wash_oaks_groupSix people showed up for a blustery walk through Washington Oaks Gardens State Park.  It was cold and windy by the river, but not so bad in the gardens and road area.   The birds were pretty much tucked in against the cold wind, and only showed themselves for the briefest of moments.  Most of the time we could not get an eyeball on them, let alone binoculars.

On the way out, we wanted to see the beachside of the park but it was still closed from the hurricane Matthew damage.  The entire place apparently was unstable and unsafe.  So we stopped further south on AIA to look for shorebirds.  Not much there, but interesting photos of the hurricane damage near the road.


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Birding in Invergordon, Scotland, Jul 23, 2016

Posted by on 04 Aug 2016 | Tagged as: birding, Wandering Members

Invergordon-13Maureen and I just returned from a 12 day cruise to Northern Europe with friends and family.  Bob and I are avid birders and Maureen is fast catching up. Bob is the father of Jeff, the husband on our younger daughter, Danielle. Jeff is the one who instigated the venture. Prior to the trip, on the recommendation of Ken Gunn, I organized a day of birding on shore with Dave Slater, owner of Birding-Ecosse.  The ship docked at Invergordon and it turns out to be near where Dave lives.

Invergorden is near Inverness, and near to the well-known Loch Ness with everyone’s favorite, elusive “monster”. Continue Reading »


Posted by on 10 May 2016 | Tagged as: birding

Eight of us enjoyed a beautiful day on a buggy ride through Orlando Wetlands Park led by Sondra and Mike.  Our guides were really attuned to what we wanted to see and really accommodated us. 

Unfortunately it was late in the season and all the “good birds” had left but it was worth the trip anyway.  Many of the usual suspects from Anhingas to Purple Gallinules.  There was a large nesting rookery of Wood Storks and Cattle Egrets on the property which we could see from an overlook. 2016apr_owp-10We spent about ten minutes watching an Anhinga work to disengage a catfish from its bill.  Unlike Cormorants that snatch fish in their jaws, Anhingas spear the fish.  They have barbs on the outer edges of their bills so the fish remain attached until they resurface.  Unfortunately, that means the Anhinga must spend some time and effort trying to disengage the fish from its bill before they can eat it.  It was really fun to watch the process.  Did I mention it was a buggy ride the entire three hours? Continue Reading »

Mar 2016 Peacock’s Pocket Field Trip Report

Posted by on 28 Mar 2016 | Tagged as: birding

Black-necked StiltSeven folks, including three snowbirds, spent a beautiful day at the MINWR focusing on the Peacock’s Pocket road.

We first stopped at the bridge on SR406 and saw many scaups and an Osprey on the nest. Crossing the bridge there was a Horned Grebe and lots of Ring-billed Gulls. A few Black Skimmers let us watch them feeding.

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