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Snowy Owls on the Tundra at Barrow

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apaflo Donating Member (45 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-30-09 01:03 AM
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Snowy Owls on the Tundra at Barrow
This year there are virtually no lemmings on the trundra around Barrow. Their numbers cycle up and down for reasons that are not understood, but the effect is that Snowy Owl, Jaeger, and Arctic Fox populations also vary. With no lemmings this year, there are no owls; and while last year there was an owl everywhere, I know of only one nest close to Barrow this year. Here are three images of one of the young produced.



Mature adult male Snowy Owls are pure white. Young adults males and females have the black spots. But chicks are born grey and fuzzy, and because they depend on camouflage for protection the juveniles have shades of grey with straw colored markings to blend into the tundra grass.



As adults they lose the ability to hide in summer, and learn to fly away when anything odd gets anywhere near close. I couldn't get within 1/2 a mile of the adult owl in the area, but literally walked up to about 4 yards from this one before it took flight.



Just for comparison, here is a young adult picture taken in late September a few years ago.



Oddly, that young bird was so curious that it actually flew up and landed maybe 15 feet from me just after this shot was taken. (Which was not necessarily good... the big old telephoto lense I had on the camera couldn't focus that close!)
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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-31-09 01:13 PM
Response to Original message
1. Very nice shots, Apaflo
Edited on Mon Aug-31-09 01:14 PM by Blue_In_AK
Is it starting to feel like winter up there? My dad spent some time working in Barrow at the NARL back in the '80s -- or '70s maybe -- and my brother and sister-in-law met and married up there. :) I've never been, but I'd really like to visit sometime.
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apaflo Donating Member (45 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-01-09 12:39 AM
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2. Barrow...
Posted by Blue_In_AK:
Is it starting to feel like winter up there? My dad spent some time working in Barrow at the NARL back in the '80s -- or '70s maybe -- and my brother and sister-in-law met and married up there. I've never been, but I'd really like to visit sometime.


Well, summer is gone, that's for sure! August and September are the "wet" season here. I doesn't actually rain much, but we get a lot of drizzle, and mixed with the continuous wind it's not as fun as other times of the year. For me, at least.

Winter will come in 4 weeks. By the end of the first week in October we'll be all white, with snow that won't melt until next June.

NARL is a lot different today, as Ilisagvik College took over most of it. The Barrow Arctic Science Consortium (BASC) also uses a lot of it, and the NSB Wildlife Management has its offices out there too. The 70's and 80's were boom decades in Barrow, so your dad was there at one of the most exciting times.

All of Alaska is just an all day every day adventure, and Barrow is probably about as exciting a place to live in Alaska as it gets. We also seem to be the least "known" part of Alaska to the rest of Alaskans. :-) The sum total is... you really should come up for a week or so. And be warned that 1 or 2 days isn't enough! (One of the more fun things that I and a couple friends do is latch onto visitors that look like they can absorb what's here, and make sure they see as much of it as possible. It's loads of fun! And you are invited.)
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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-02-09 12:34 PM
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3. Thanks for the invite, Apaflo
We may have to take you up on that offer someday. I've been living in Alaska since 1975, but last year when we went to Nome for the Iditarod was the first time I'd been off the road system except for ferrying around Southeast when I first visited up here in 1972-73. It certainly is a whole different world out there. I'm a photographer, too, and would really like to get more photos of the "real" Alaska. :)
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apaflo Donating Member (45 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-02-09 03:24 PM
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4. Visiting Barrow
Whenever you do start planning, get in touch and we can go over dates that work for this and dates that work for that.

Whatever is going on around town; and any time that 4-wheel ATVing is reasonable, we can do things like trips to Point Barrow or down the coast in the opposite direction. How far depends on the time of year (and the weather, because today for example the beach is not passable due to seas running to high).

We are mostly looking for an excuse to go do these things, and a visitor that can enjoy them too just makes it all the more fun!
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