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Dr. Glassberg’s Excellent Adventure Day 6 & 7 Alaska

(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.

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.

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Dr. Glassberg’s Excellent Adventure Day 5

(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.

Common Raven

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.

White-veined Arctic
mating Jutta Arctics
Prickly Rose