The worldwide Augustana College experience

Almost Ready! Let the Field Season Begin!

With the rest of the crew, Dr. Jennifer Burnham and Dr. Jeff Johnson, showing up in just two days, the boat and supplies are just about ready for the summer!

For the most part, the logistics, restrictions, guns, and boat have all been sorted out. After waiting for the weekend to pass, yesterday 2 July 2012, Dr. Kurt Burnham ran around base and met with various officials to get us permission to use the boat dock for loading and unloading our supplies, to unlock our weapons from the armory, and to thank officers for helping us along with the process.  There sure is a lot of paper work that is involved in a project like this, especially living on a base.  The rules, personnel, and protocol change with each year, so it can make this first week a headache, but all in all it seemed to be a smooth process!

After a slow morning of figuring that out, Bridger and I worked on filtering boat oil.  Because we run it through two filters, and oil is so viscous, it can be a long bothersome process, luckily the team is now able to store oil in our storage facility, instead of the hazardous materials building, so it can be done on our own time and without supervision of DLO workers. Additionally, Bridger was creative enough to tape together the filters so that it wasn’t as meddlesome a process as it has been in years past. After maybe two hours (an Incubus album, and then Bob Marley’s Legend album) we had filtered about 25 gallons! Woohoo.

When filling to boat, we realized we had filtered way more than was necessary, but no one was complaining because that means much less time spent in the future.

On a more exciting note, yesterday we began starting what we’ve all been waiting for, finding birds!

While dropping off one of the trucks that seems to be stuck with the emergency brake off, we spotted a snow bunting, and then saw her bring food to her nest, where there were maybe 3 chicks bobbing for food. That was an exciting find!

Then later in the day Bridger and I went out to the Tank Farm, where they store all the fuel for the base, and put out bird seed out by the ponds. We did this to attract the birds, so that they get used to coming to these spots so that we can set up traps for them in the future. Out there was quite a nice sight.  Its located on the edge of the base and is pretty wet, so there is quite a lot of greenery, and even better there are some birds flying around.  We saw some Lapland Longspur, long-tailed ducks, snow bunting, and some geese! The long-tailed ducks are an interesting sight because the mail’s tail feather is about an extra 6 inches long! It’s a rather interesting sight! I really enjoyed it out there, so at the end of the day after all our work was done, I took a run back out there and walked along the farm.  It’s a nice place to get away from the base.

Today, 3 July 2012, we were possibly planning on getting out on the boat because we had finally set it all up, and going to do some work on a nearby island, but unfortunately a large fog had come in so we’ve nixed that plan until the fog fades.  (The nice thing, though, is if its foggy, I usually get to sleep in, but that’s not something I should be wishing for.)

Instead, Bridger and I hiked up by BEMUSE, a ballistic missile warning station, to look for Peregrines. We found a Redpoll along the way.  I’ve never seen any of these birds before, but I’ve been studying them from a list I’ve gotten.  I haven’t quite yet mastered my identification skills, but with time as we see more and more, I hope to become a pro. We found the location where they had found a nest the year before, but there was nothing there.  To see if there were any peregrines nesting along the cliff,

Bridger yelled out lout a few times and almost immediately a female peregrine came out from underneath us, squaking, obviously agitated.  She flew in circle practically above our heads which signaled her nest was close by so we walked only 50m up the cliff ledge and found her nest down below.  We took a few pictures, but didn’t stay for long, there was no breeze and the mosquitoes were awful! I even swallowed one on the walk back to the truck!

We’ll be heading out for another hike shortly so stay tuned!

Claire

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