(Pictured above, Shooting Stars. -Ed.)
Thursday, June 13. Deciding that it would be a lazy day, I took the easy way and drove to Murphy Dome. The usual suspects made an appearance. I did get some photos of the upperside of a male Polaris Fritillary.
Friday, June 14. Drove to Eagle Summit. It’s cool (55 degrees), cloudy, and very, very windy. First, I explored the area north of Steese Highway, following the suggestion of Zdenek Fric. Although I found some rockslide areas, these didn’t look particularly promising. Next, I drove a little farther east, to a hilltop that had a trail running up to it. I parked and walked about 15 minutes to the summit. Once there, I encountered a young man and woman who were researchers at U. of A. Fairbanks. I asked what they were doing. Looking for birds they responded. Anything in particular? Ptarmigans they said. Turns out that they were radio tracking ptarmigans in the area. I suggested that they turn their attentions to butterflies, as so little was known about them. They seemed surprised at this, but I’m thinking that I didn’t really succeed in creating more butterfly researchers. I asked if they knew an area nearby with rockslides and/or scree. They directed me back to the first Eagle Summit area that I had visited a few days ago, but told me that rather than going to the top, as I had done, that I should continue along the side of the mountain for about one-half mile and they I would find the area. I wished them fun with ptarmigans.
So, I, of course, set out to find this area. I parked at the one-car pullout and followed the ptarmigan researchers directions. In a while, I found some areas that looked like promising habitat for Astarte Fritillaries. However, I didn’t see any. This may have been because it was cold, cloudy and windy. I estimated that the wind was blowing at a steady 40 mph for much of the time. At one point, it almost carried me off the mountain! But, at least the area seemed reasonable. On the way down I saw a surfbird (a surprising number of shorebird species nest on Eagle Summit) and photographed some wildflowers, but because of the wind, most of the photos were fuzzy.
(Pictured above, a Taiga Alpine – Ed.)
I started the day, as I’ve been starting every day, at the local supermarket, Fred Meyer. It’s huge! It also has a gas station. Unlike most gas station stores and vending machines, this one features a vending machine devoted to mosquito repellant. Famous for its mosquitoes, I had traveled here to Alaska with numerous cans of repellant along with a head net. Yet, amazingly, there have been almost no mosquitoes! Don’t let anyone know. Also, unlike supermarkets back East, Fred Meyer has successfully trained me to use self check-out. The parking lot is a favorite hang-out of Common Ravens, known to some Native Americans as “The Thief.” I imagined the one in the photo was attempting to run off with my rental car.
Four hours of driving yesterday left me wanting to take it somewhat easier today. I opted for staying reasonably local, visiting the Goldstream Bog and Murphy Dome. While there was no chance to see a lifer, still I’d get a chance to see many of these seldom-seen species another time. I was able to get a photo of mating Jutta Arctics in the bog. Up at Murphy Dome I saw a few more Taiga Alpines and a White-veined Arctic, a species new for this trip.