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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Penguk Wildlife

I thought about adding a picture here of Ryan in his 'grass skirt' about to swim across the mighty King Salmon River, but decided that I'll stick to the non-human wildlife at Penguk. And Ryan technically is human. I'll leave the Ryan 'in his grass skirt' photo for my next (and last) post about Penguk - the camplife post. I promise it'll be my last Penguk post.

Anyway - what post about Penguk wildlife would be complete without something on the mosquitos. So check out the video I posted to YouTube at the bottom. Originally it was about 2 minutes long of a mosquito engorging herself on my blood (and yes, it is female and NOT male mosquitos that suck blood), but I sped it up and all the people talking sound like gerbils. It's worth watching if you don't like mosquitos.

Penguk did have great wildlife. Amazing flowers (top photo is of Lupin), and astounding amounts of waterfowl. Every lake had a few swans nesting on it, sandhill cranes were literally everywhere, and we had both red throated and common loons flying over camp. Red throated (we called them 'red necked') loons make the most amazing honking noise as they flew up and down the river. Early on it was all godwits - HUGE flocks of the squawkers flying overhead and walking about the exposed tidal flats in the river. Later on during the project they disappeared and I wondered if they migrated on to somewhere or just finished nesting.

We also had visits from moose, wolves, caribou, foxes and bears. We never saw the wolves but did find their tracks (fourth photo) and heard them howling at night. Early on we found the tracks of just about every species of animal mentioned above in the mud by the river below camp every morning. But by the end of our stay all the animals were avoiding our camp. I only know this because on the second to last day I did cross the river and I was amazed by the amount of tracks on the other side. I suddenly realized that all the animals had been swimming the river on their way up or downstream to avoid us!

Finally, what post about wildlife in Alaska is complete without the requisite bear photo (second from top)? We did have our bears, and this little guy did hang out near the latrine for a few days. You can tell in the photo that he's 'a bad boy'. We never did drive him away, and the girls had some exciting moments on the way to the latrine. Eventually he just faded away and we never saw him again. But the girls DID continue to go 'hey bear, hey bear' everytime they went to the bathroom. Patrick

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