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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.