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The Peregrine Fund Notes From The Field
Summer of 2002, Trip II
Bill Burnham — in Arctic Program - Greenland    Share
World Center for Birds of Prey 2001.  <br />New Herrick Collections Building has been <br />constructed since this photo was taken.
World Center for Birds of Prey 2001.
New Herrick Collections Building has been
constructed since this photo was taken.
14 July 2002 - It has been a busy couple of weeks since I returned from my first trip to Greenland this field season. Much of the first week back at the World Center for Birds of Prey was spent trying to catch-up, getting ready for the second week's activities. The entire second week was a series of meetings to resolve the organization's plans for FY03 through FY07. We had staff come to Boise from literally all over the world. Even before the week of meetings, smaller gatherings of staff members meet to discuss issues and plans to be presented and work on related budgets to be submitted.

When I first introduced this rather intense annual planning process many years ago, my co-workers seemed to dread it, but now have grown to understand the need for the meetings and some even seem to look forward to them. Each meeting begins with a review of the project or program goal followed by a report of what was achieved this year as the lead-in to a discussion of the plans for the next year and the following four years.

Monday we spent all day on our efforts in the Neotropics. Tuesday we went through projects in Africa and Asia. Wednesday morning the focus was Aplomado Falcons and in the afternoon the California Condor effort. These two projects we have had meetings on twice before already this year so the number of items to resolve were shorter than it would have been otherwise. Thursday was an all-staff (those working in Boise and who have come for the meetings) meeting where we covered everything from projects and programs to our web site, computer and vehicle needs, office, library, maintenance, financials, etc. Each day lunch is provided to participants so no one needs to leave and we can continue working straight through. In the evenings there are frequently social events for people who only see each other at these meetings to go out together. Thursday evening Lloyd and Julie Kiff invited everyone, including spouses and children, to their home for dinner. Friday is also filled with discussions to resolve the many issues and questions that have arisen during the week and still remain unanswered. The first of the people now depart for home with the remainder leaving over the weekend. I leave on Sunday, today, for New York and then on to Greenland.

On the airplanes I begin reading and editing the written results and plans I have already received from the meetings. By the time I return all the budget information will have been prepared for analysis and combined onto a large spread sheet. In a group, Pat, Jeff, and I will go over each budget in detail, then consider all combined related to our best guess on income for FY03. Many staff members will be called upon to justify their proposed expenses. Most likely, we will end up needing to make some hard financial and program choices as to where to make cuts before the proposed budget is presented to the Board of Directors for their approval and adoption. Whatever is approved, the directions will remain not to spend more than budgeted or more than is raised. It is very difficult to manage expense while not knowing the likely ultimate income and still achieve maximum results. We never know for sure how much money we are going to have until 30 September, the last day of our fiscal year.

15 July -The flight to Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, takes the usual approximately six hours. Nothing unusual. Our friends meet the airplane and offer whatever assistance we need. Bianca Perren and I are both on Ilulissat in a few hours where Kurt Burnham and Regan Haswell should be waiting, having flown there earlier in the day. We must overnight at Ilulissat, then in the morning go on to Upernavik. Then using the same aircraft we go to Qaanaaq and change to a helicopter and on to Thule. Thule is not an easy place to reach anymore! In past years Greenland Air had a direct flight from Kangerlussuaq to Thule, but after building many landing strips/airports in all fairly large communities, travel to some places has become more complicated.

Ilulissat is a picturesque Greenlandic town with the usual combination of very colorful houses and buildings, but most unique, and for which it is famous, are the icebergs. The nearby glacier moves at an incredible rate of about 300 feet a day and calves huge icebergs into the fjord adjacent to the town. Especially at each high tide, icebergs of every shape and size push out into Disko Bay. Just to see the ice is worth a trip to Ilulissat. A further opportunity there is to visit the Knud Rassmussen museum. He was the most famous Greenlandic/Danish explorer and achieved incredible feats traveling great distances by dog sled. He also wrote and published extensively.

We did not arrive at Ilulissat until late, about 2230, so our visit was very short with no sight-seeing other than while landing and from our hotel windows. Even so the ice is spectacular.

After dumping our bags in hotel rooms, over Greenlandic coffee Kurt and Regan tell us about their accomplishment in the Kangerlussuaq area during our absence. They were able to catch several falcons and attach a PTT and collect other information. They were busy, making good use of their time.

We have a good team—Kurt with many years of experience in Greenland and with falcons, his organizational and logistic skills, and his scientific training. Regan is of the same age as Kurt and has spent his last decade one way or another working with birds of prey, and in particular large falcons, including Peregrines and Gyrfalcons. He is a very experienced and capable raptor person and he seems to have already caught Arctic fever.

Bianca, although not a bird person per se, is a trained scientist with years of experience in the Canadian Arctic and operating boats. This is her second trip to Greenland.

Jack Stephens
Jack Stephens
Jack Stephens will be the fifth member of the team. This is Jack's 29th year at Thule and he is the resident naturalist and nature photographer at the Base and our local project coordinator there. Jack also lives in and looks after our building. He is a great asset to the project and organization. It is hard to list all the ways Jack contributes, not the least of which is being an uncannily accurate professional weather forecaster and exceptional photographer.

16 July -We are up at 0500 so we can get to the airport by 0700 with all our gear in preparation for our 0900 flight. It was a short night and is going to be another long day. Interesting that even after all the years I have worked in the north I still can be excited enough to have trouble sleeping.

Note seat on left side of photo.
Note seat on left side of photo.
The flight leaves a few minutes early. Like yesterday, we are flying on a DASH 7 which is a souped-up and larger version of the renowned Twin Otter used all over the Arctic region. Both planes are very powerful and designed for taking off and landing on short runways, gravel or paved. The plane seems to jump into the air. The passenger cabin has half of the seats removed and cargo stacked in that space as well as in the cargo areas of the plane. The cargo ranges from vehicle parts to vegetables and mail.

The flight from Ilulissat to Upernavik takes about an hour and a quarter. The Upernavik airport sits atop a rugged hill above the town. To make a flat spot they literally cut away the top of the mountain and used the rock to fill in the low spots. The airport terminal is very modern with a large x-ray machine to examine baggage and they use metal detectors to check passengers before boarding (probably because of some Danish or European regulation), but at the same time the toilets have buckets in them which are periodically dumped into a truck and hauled just beyond the Upernavik museum and put in a dump at the edge of sea. Raw sewage is dumped into the ocean throughout Greenland and has never created a problem I am aware of, particularly because of the small population. A recent change, however, in some towns is the use of yellow plastic liners/bags in the buckets. The bags are not biodegradable and are dumped directly into the ocean.

When we were traveling up the coast by boat in 2000 we stopped overnight at Upernivak and were shown the airport which was then under construction. Traveling with us today is the manager of the Qaanaaq airport, which is even newer. She was in Thule, previously managing Air Greenland flights into Thule.

The flight on to Qaanaaq takes about one and one-half hours more. We fly north across Melville Bay. Amazingly, the bay is ice free. This is very early for there to be no pack ice in the bay, especially considering some years the ice never leaves at all. The Qaanaaq airport is built outside of town a mile or so and on a flat area by the sea. The strip is gravel. After they off-load the plane we must wait for its reloading and take-off before we climb aboard the helicopter that will take us to Thule. The pilot has flown smaller helicopters in Kangerlussuaq doing falcon surveys. The helicopter is totally packed with our bags and other cargo except for the two back side seats, one each side. There is just room for two people in each location if they sit shoulder to shoulder. We dawn our ear protectors as the 212 lifts off and flies the 30 minutes south to Thule. Jack Stephens is waiting when we land, as is the Danish Liaison Officer (DLO). The DLO is a Danish naval officer and is the Danish military= s representative at the U.S. air base. He has been at Thule for some time and is always very helpful to us and is an important friend.

Thule Air Base
Thule Air Base
Our building/barracks is only a couple-of-minutes drive from the air field and we haul in the gear and get settled. We have finally arrived!

17 and 18 July - The days are filled with getting everything ready for the field and we are pleased to have a visit by the new Base Commander. Each year the 100+ U.S. Air Force military personnel change as Thule Air Base is a one-year assignment. The remainder of the people at Thule are civilian contractors, mostly Greenlanders, Danes, and U.S. citizens. The Base Commander (a colonel) changes every summer and it is important to us for them to know and understand why we are on the base and what we do. We have a long-standing and very positive relationship with the Air Force. Their providing us with this unique opportunity in such a remote location is very much appreciated. Working in the High Arctic of North Greenland would be much more difficult and expensive without their presence and critical support.

The Peregrine Fund's High Arctic Institute.
The Peregrine Fund's High Arctic Institute.
Part of getting ready to begin the field work includes putting the boat in the water. There is no formal boat ramp so we take it on the trailer to A Tug Boat Beach.@ This is also the location where the Air Force puts its tug boat in the water and thus the name. Their tug boat is used to help manage the ships which will arrive shortly to off-load cargo and fuel to keep the base operational for the next year. The Thule Port is reportedly the most northern deep water port in the world. I back our trailered boat into the water with Kurt on board the boat. Regan has on chest waders in case he needs to help. Once the boat is floating free, and while Kurt tries to start the motors, Bianca and I try to get the truck and trailer back across the loose sand above the high tide level. Today, as has frequently occurred in the past, we must put a tow line on the truck. With another truck we have taken there just for that purpose, Bianca pulls us onto firm ground.

Thule port.
Thule port.
Having not run for many months, the motors take some coaxing before they fire and eventually run. Kurt and Bianca take the boat for a quick turn around North Star Bay. After their arrival at the small harbor where we tie up the boat, the motors are running well.

19 July - Our first day trip. We are off to visit the nearby islands to look for falcons and generally get a feel for the status of the seabirds and waterfowl. Saunders Island is the first we visit. We begin checking cliffs for falcons and other birds along an area of the island where few seabirds (only Black Guillemot) breed. Although we see no falcons, we do count/estimate the number of other birds (guillemots and gulls) we discover and take a GPS location. Finally, we arrive at the densely packed colonies of Thick-billed Murres, Black-legged Kittiwakes, and Northern Fulmars. Although some of the murre and kittiwake nests are near the water, most are high up on the sheer cliffs that surround most of the island. Having tens of thousands of birds above you on cliff faces is an amazing sight and one of which I never tire. Patrolling the nesting colonies are Glaucous Gulls, always on the lookout for unguarded young they can snatch and swallow whole or carry back to their own young to feed.

Thick-billed Murres and Black-legged Kittiwakes share nesting cliff.
Thick-billed Murres and Black-legged Kittiwakes share nesting cliff.
Even with hundreds of flying birds in view at once, we still pick out a Peregrine that flies from one cliff pinnacle to the next. It is in an area of the island where there are very few fulmars, which look much more like a flying falcon than murres or kittiwakes. The Peregrine is an adult and we watch from the water while she stands high above the water, surveying her domain and preening. To determine whether she is nesting we must either wait and see what she does next or climb up near her to determine if she is defensive of the site. Doing both is even better. Regan and I decide to climb while Kurt, Jack, and Bianca watch from the boat. The climb is very steep across shale and peat-covered grass slopes. By the time we reach her location she has flown away. The falcon is obviously not breeding, at least at this location. If she were breeding she should be incubating eggs at this date and not flying around, apparently unworried and unattached to a specific location. She is most probably a non-breeding female that for some reason did not find a mate, did not arrive in the area early enough to breed, or maybe bred and already has failed.

Black Guillemot
Black Guillemot
From Saunders we proceed to a small island where eider ducks nest, then on to Dalrymple Rock. At the eider duck island we see several flocks of a few hundred eider, all females. This time of year most females are usually on nests or with young. We stop briefly at the island and while I tend the boat Kurt and the others quickly survey the island, locating only six nests with hens or eggs. All other nests they see are in very poor shape and only a few eggshells are present, suggesting eggs were hatched there. It seems likely the eggs were taken, or for some other reason the hens failed to breed successfully. We need to check our notes from past years and compare hatching dates, etc.

Dalrymple Rock
Dalrymple Rock

At Dalrymple Rock there are again large numbers of hen eider ducks on the water, but no young. This location is also used extensively by eiders for nesting, but part of the ducks are probably also from the nearby smaller island we were at. We estimate a couple of thousand ducks. Snow Geese also breed here and we have been counting their numbers for some years. We only see one pair with four goslings. There are usually more. Next we check the Atlantic Puffin colony. There are 17 birds standing on the rocks and others flying about or on the water. Things seem normal with this colony. There are also two Razorbills, which is normal. We have never seen more than three or four Razorbills.

Atlantic Puffin.
Atlantic Puffin.
Continuing on, we check the west and south sides of Wolsteholme Island, only finding gulls. We count and note GPS locations for nesting sites. We do spot a great looking white falcon-like rock high atop a cliff. We have probably seen it before but cannot remember. Next stops are any nesting sites we find from Tonge Skaer southeast along the York Peninsula to a former Gyrfalcon eyrie.

Looking into Gyrfalcon eyrie from <br />above and near top of chute.
Looking into Gyrfalcon eyrie from
above and near top of chute.
Regan and I go ashore below the Gyrfalcon eyrie. After a scramble up the sea- and ice-worn rocks, we pick our way through a congestion of boulders that seem to be waiting only for a slight encouragement to obey gravity and come crashing down. Continuing on, we work our way around a rocky point and onto the grassy former ice and snow shoot below the eyrie. A white Gyrfalcon flies into the eyrie. It must be active again! Last year, for the first time since we have been coming to Thule and located the eyrie, there were no falcons present. We had been afraid the same would be true this year. Soon the falcon leaves the eyrie. We climb to a better viewing location. Looking into the eyrie, we see a young Gyrfalcon looking back, no doubt seeing its first humans. We can hear a second chick calling so there are at least two. We return to the boat for trapping gear, then back up the slope. An hour later, not having caught either adult, we give up and leave the Gyrfalcons to their own. Next stop the small boat harbor at Thule and after that diner.

20 July -A mild storm came in overnight and we spend the day working on equipment and preparing to return to try and put a PTT on one of the Gyrs tomorrow and/or band their young.

21 July - We get an early start. The chow hall begins serving at 0500. Kurt, Regan, and I head up to the Gyrfalcon eyrie while Bianca operates the boat as there is no location to anchor or tie it. Jack was let off further along the coast and is photographing. It is great to have an exceptional photographer as part of the team.

Gyrfalcon young in eyrie.
Gyrfalcon young in eyrie.
We try to catch one of the adults for over two hours before declaring victory—theirs! While Regan and Kurt put away the trapping gear I head further up the hill to where I can climb above the eyrie, then I will rappel. On the second try, Kurt, speaking through the radio, says the rope is in the correct location to get me into the eyrie. Over I go, making absolutely certain no loose rock will follow me down. That means selecting my path and steps carefully and laying the rope where it will not move any rocks or abrade. The rope is 200 feet long and Kurt explains it is 15 or more feet short of reaching the bottom of the cliff, but well past the eyrie which is near the bottom. Twenty feet short of being level with the eyrie I need to move me and my rope a few feet to my left to be able to reach a small ridge I must get around before I can enter the eyrie. Not having a correct size cam (Camalot), I use a A stopper@ to wedge in a crack to which I clip a sling and carabineer and snap my rope into. With the rope now angled to the left across the cliff but held in place, I can again rappel straight down without taking the chance of penduluming back, knocking rocks loose. Descending further I grab the ridge of rock and hook a leg around, then descend a few feet more and swing my whole body around the edge and climb several feet back up and into the eyrie. I do have the correct size cam for this crack above the young. The young Gyrfalcons are wondering what I am while the adults are both raising a fuss, stooping by the eyrie and calling defensively. After a while they land where they can see what I am doing, only getting upset again when either young vocalizes. One at a time I lower the young in my backpack to Kurt and Regan for banding. While they finish up with the second eyass I collect remains from prey—all Dovekies. These Gyrfalcons nest in a great spot as hundreds of thousands of Dovekies pass by above, in front, and below their eyrie each day. There is no time I can look out from the eyrie and not see flocks of Dovekies.

Boat in small harbor at mouth <br />of the "Green Valley."
Boat in small harbor at mouth
of the "Green Valley."
With both approximately 27-day-old young settled back in their eyrie, I reverse the process of getting into the eyrie and head back up the rope. The stopper is, of course, stuck in the crack. While the cams are mechanical and adjust in size and thus are easy to reduce and remove, the stoppers do not and once wedged and having held weight can be hard to get out. Luckily I find a thin rock I can pry loose and tap the stopper out of its hold. Before I reach the top Kurt and Regan are in the boat, but I am not far behind. The Gyrfalcons can now get back to life as usual.

The local Danes have begun to visit the valley where we had the base camp years ago and have named it A Green Valley.@ That is our next stop. It is located further along the York Peninsula beyond the Gyrfalcon eyrie. Some weekends, Air Greenland even flies loads of people from Thule for short visits to the valley. There is a great deal of grass (and thus its name) resulting from the hundreds of thousands of Dovekies that nest along the valley= s slopes. This is the area where the herds of muskox also live. The reason for our visit is to follow-up on a report by a hiker that he had seen two falcons about one and one-half miles inland. After walking about five miles and seeing nothing, we return to the boat which we left tied across the mouth of the small harbor where the stream meets the sea. Time to return to Thule.

22 July - Another day of inclement weather—wind, then fog. We fuel the boat and prepare to leave for a week-long trip to the north. Before bedtime everything is packed and ready to be taken to the boat first thing tomorrow.

23 July - Bianca Perren - Hello everyone. I am back after an aborted five-day trip north to Olrik Fjord and the Qaanaaq region. After a 5 am (Lord save me) breakfast and packing the boat full of camping gear, food, and personal bits, we set out yesterday into a thick, occasionally soupy fog and calm water, hopping island to island, point to point, past Drown Bay, Booth Sound, rounding Cape Parry into Hvalsund. In Hvalsund, choked with bergy bits and unfortunately not choked with whales of the narwhal variety, we stopped to check out a Gyrfalcon eyrie where three Gyrs (one adult female, and two chicks) had been caught and transmittered last year (the adult female was followed to Ellesmere and then was lost in Baffin Bay sometime in winter). Bill and Regan went to check out the eyrie while I hung back on the slatey, slick talus slope (the cliff looked a little too precipitous for my liking). The eyrie was empty save for a few relatively recent prey bits suggesting that one of the pair returned and left after a few days with no mate. From my perch below the eyrie, well above the water, I had a great view (intermittently obscured by fog) down to the calving snout of the glacier which discharged some thunderously massive bergs while I watched. Back on the water, the fog cleared a bit with an increasing wind and we made our way down Olrik Fjord. We stopped about a third of the way down Olrik Fjord at Qaqarsseaq for me to sample a lake and for the rest to check out an eyrie on the other side. Jack then checked in with the Thule weather station to discover that the low-pressure system that has been hovering for awhile was quickly mobilizing our way and that winds in Thule were already 40 knots (one knot equals 1.15 miles per hour). So, leaving the diatoms to their lake and the Gyrs to their eyrie, we battened down the hatches and prepared ourselves for a wet and cold ride home. And what a wild ride it was—and incredibly beautiful-B smooth white lobes of ice dipping down from the plateaus, nosing fresh moraines into the fjord, elsewhere sheer cliffs of gneiss, and once we rounded Cape Parry, smooth broad green and brown plains sloping into the sea. Cape Parry was wild with wind and waves—the fetch along Smith Sound is substantial—and we were airborne, flying along the wave tops, buried in the troughs and everything in-between. The wild water seemed to fit well with the rugged and impenetrable coastline and serves as a not so subtle reminder (as if we needed one) that here the weather and ocean rule and going out on the water is serious business. Lucky for us, we are well equipped with just about the best boat and drivers and weather prediction.

So, warm in my survival suit, I held on and enjoyed the ride back to Thule. All told we covered 244 miles (with the tank still reading full...) and got home around 9 pm. Safe and warm and left to write long, long e-mails to family and friends and look out the window at the thickening cloud.

So there we go..

Now time for you guys to write...

[This is a message Bianca sent to her family and agreed to otherwise share. Bianca is working on her Ph.D. in paleolimnology at the University of Toronto in Canada. Her research is on recent climate change in West Greenland. She is volunteering for The Peregrine Fund this summer while collecting diatoms from lakes in North Greenland. Her M.Sc. research was accomplished on Ellesmere Island reconstructing changes in lake ice cover over the last 2,550 years.]

24 - 27 July - Storm Days. The storm hits its peak on 26 July with wind gusts topping 112 knots (130 mph) on a hill above the Base. On Base winds peak out at about 80 mph. At the small harbor where our boat is tied, it is blowing much harder, but there are no weather-measuring instruments there. Part of the routine when on Base, and particularly during storms, is regularly checking on the boat. The boat is always tied bow and aft by heavy nylon ropes, the boat bow onto heavy rocks and the aft to the pier. Knowing the potential intensity of the storm we have two ropes from the bow which we knew would take the brunt of the wind. On Thule Air Base television is displayed wind speed and temperatures from various nearby locations where people are likely to be or travel. We leave the television on in our building and as we pass by someone reads the numbers and calls out any new high wind speeds. Even without the television, however, you have a good sense of the wind= s intensity by the sound coming in through the building walls and small windows. Having been in the barracks before in winds of over 100 mph, I know the sound. My sleeping room is on the corner which the winds hits first and the sound and feel is that of a freight train. As the wind pushes above the 100 mph mark we check the boat more frequently although there is absolutely nothing we can do in these winds if there is a problem. Knowing the boat is A happy@ just makes us feel better. If we lose the boat, so goes our field season. Soon a notice on the television reads condition A Storm 1" or A Storm 2" depending upon where you are located. Storm 1 means anyone outside a building or vehicle must be accompanied. Storm 2 requires travel outside of buildings in authorized vehicles only. Should a Storm 3 be designated, no one is allowed to leave their present location. All buildings at Thule have food rations and other survival items stored in them for just such situations and they are periodically used.

At Storm 1 we re-check the boat again. The water off the white-capped waves is blowing horizontally and the waves crashing over the end of the pier. The importance of the protection being provided our boat, and the others tied in the small harbor, by a rock walkway diverting a portion of the wind and water is obvious. Driving near the pier we have small rocks carried by the wind pelt the truck. Even with our truck in the lee of a small but well anchored building at the harbor, it is difficult to even get out, and walking upright into the full force of the wind is impossible. Not a good time for man, beast, or boats. I wonder how the falcons are protecting themselves? Much of their protection must result from having chosen the best possible site to nest. In strong winds we see Snow Bunting and other small birds hiding behind rocks to wait out the storms. Beyond our hiding out in the barracks during the storm, we visit the chow hall for meals and the gym for exercise. The remainder of the time we spend working on equipment or personal projects. I begin writing the A Conclusions@ chapter to the Peregrine restoration book Tom Cade and I are writing and editing.

As winds become manageable we check what is ours for any damage. We find the back camper shell window frame on the Ford pickup is bent and needs repaired. I take it off, remove the pop-riveted hinge, and after straightening the bent metal and re-attaching the hinge take it back to the truck. The window hinge is supposed to slide on over a ridge on the back of the camper shell but refuses to slip on. Balancing the window on my head and with one arm, I give a big yank with the other hand and arm. The window does not go but my arm does. Ouch! My right arm no longer is able to lift anything, and hardly even itself. Must have torn muscle and/or ligaments. A first. Regan and Bianca team up to finish the job. I should have asked for help in the beginning.

28 July - With a very sore and mostly useless arm, I remain behind while the others head back to Cape Atholl to try again to catch one of the adult Gyrfalcons and to check other potential falcon nest sites further south. Mid-morning Kurt calls by satellite phone. Because of large waves he could not land people on the rocks below the Gyr eyrie so he mistakenly tried the nearby beach and stuck the bow. As he motored in, an unusually large wave caught the boat and carried it further in and much faster than he anticipated or desired. The next wave washed over the back of the boat and following ones turned it broad-side. They had quickly unloaded the boat so the gear was safe, as were the people, but the boat itself was in big trouble. He needed help and as quickly as possible. The only options were if the tug boat could sail there and pull the boat back out to sea or maybe the helicopter. The latter could potentially be much faster. I called the local Greenland Air manager and the helicopter was chartered and happened to be flying in Kurt= s direction. The manager was able to reach the helicopter through the Kangerlussuaq radio and divert it to Cape Atholl. Cape Atholl is only about a 20-minute flight south of Thule. In the meantime I again spoke with Kurt. He said they had managed to work the boat around so the bow was now into the waves and the tide was rising. They were bailing the water out of the boat in the hope it could be pushed (them) or pulled (with help) back to sea.

The helicopter returned to Thule with Bianca now on board. She provided the extra details and I requested the helicopter return with a hook and sling to see if it could not pull the boat off the beach into the sea. After some discussion with the manager and pilot, and after reaching an agreement with the person having the helicopter chartered, they went back. It arrived with conditions worsening and just in time. So far there had been no damage to the boat although it and all three guys had been thoroughly soaked with sea water. Kurt and the others had extra dry clothes along for just such situations. After attaching the line, and on the third try, the boat came free and the chopper pilot carefully pulled it away from the shore and into the small bay. Kurt had the engines running within seconds. Situation stable! Bianca and the Greenland Air manager heard the good news on the radio. I had returned to the barracks in case Kurt called.

The helicopter continued on its charter to re-establish telephone communications at the small village to the south of Thule. Using the small dingy, Kurt, Regan, and Jack transported the gear back onto the boat. Once on their way home Kurt called again and gave me their estimated time of arrival. They arrived back at Thule about 1800. Bianca and I met them at the dock. We unloaded the boat and tied it in place. At the barracks all equipment exposed to salt water was washed with fresh water and dried, including clothes, climbing ropes, and most everything else that was in the boat. Another challenging day in the High Arctic. We have had too many already this season. Time for some good weather and better luck. Our very sincere thanks to all who helped us today!

29 July - Mid-morning we pull the boat for inspection and cleaning. Getting it out of the water can be more difficult than putting it in because of the sand and potential for sticking a vehicle and heavily loaded trailer. Having done this now many times, we have a system. With our old Ford two-wheel drive diesel I back the trailer into the bay. We then attach the four-wheel drive Ford truck onto the other truck with a series of chains, a tow rope, and a tow strap. The 4x4 needs to be on solid ground, not sand, for this to work. After Kurt drives the boat onto the trailer and it is secure I give Regan the high sign and we both drive forward together in the trucks with the tow line tight. On solid ground we unhook and head for the wash rack. During cleaning we find no damage to the boat. All equipment and compartments are washed with fresh water and air dried before we begin re-packing. After washing the boat, and while in the cleaning mode, we also give the barracks a once over. No problem getting to sleep tonight, but there never is up here it seems.

30 July - The boat is back in the water, full of fuel, and ready for action. Three more team members arrive today while I must leave and begin working my way back to Boise to deal with less straight-forward challenges, like budgeting for FY03. It is hard leaving but Brian and Ruth Mutch and Peter Widener are certainly up to the challenge. This is Brian's and Ruth's third season at Thule. Although Peter's first, he has spent a great deal of time in the out-of-doors. I head back to Kangerlussuaq, then eventually on to Boise. At least my arm should be 100% when I plan to return again in a couple of weeks. I hope the weather is good at least during the time I am gone. Jack Stephens reported before I left that there were no storms of concern currently working their way toward Thule visible by satellite. Good luck to all.

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