Day 7 - August 31, 2013 - Douglas Harbour, Canada
By Franz Barlein, Ornithologist
Co-ordinates: N 61º54'17", W 72º39'02"
Weather: Overcast, partly sunny
Air Temperature: 2.5ºC, 36ºF
Pressure: 1001 hPa
Wind: 30 km/h
While sailing towards the entrance of Douglas Harbour, I appreciated the mountains freshly capped with snow overnight. Despite some gusting wind, our Captain Maggie Ettlin made it through the small entrance to the fjord of Douglas Harbour, and we sailed to our final position at 61°54’17’’ N, W 72°39’02’’ where Silver Explorer anchored at 8:30 a.m.
This morning I was assigned to guard one of the walking groups ashore as bear guard. At 8:30 a.m. we went ashore clearing the landing site. Thereafter, we started with the first Zodiacs bringing the guests ashore where I was assigned to the group of ‘moderate’ walkers.
While walking uphill with some 20 guests, we appreciated the late blooming flowers, such as Fireweed and Arctic Bellflower, as well as the many Blueberry stands, Cotongras, Dwarf Willow and Dwarf Birch with their beautiful fall colours. A flock of Snow Geese flew over and several Pipits were watching us. Rather fresh droppings of Caribou revealed the site an important feeding place for these animals, although we failed to observe one of them. Instead, quite a few lemmings were seen.
When on the small lake we all appreciated the scenic landscape with fresh snow topping the surrounding mountains, and even some blue sky. After a short rest at the lake we slowly returned to the landing site. Half way down, I took post as bear guard while the guests were allowed to walk back on their own. At 12:45 p.m. the last Zodiac returned to Silver Explorer and we closed the landing site.
Back on the ship we were informed that the current wind conditions with quite some gusting wind did not allow Silver Explorer to cruise into the fjord as planned. Therefore, Silver Explorer lifted anchor sailing towards tomorrow’s destination while I went for lunch with the expedition staff.
After a short rest I prepared a recap. At 3:00 p.m. I joined guests in The Theatre as they watched the famous silent 80 minute documentary “Nanook of the North (1922)” by filmmaker Robert J. Flathery. Flathery spent a year in the North following the lives of Nanook, an Inuit, and his family showing not only how they hunt, but their family life as well.
At 5:00 p.m. we had a briefing for the following day, where we plan to visit Akpatok, a rather remote island off the coast, harbouring one of the largest bird cliffs in the region with hundreds of thousands of breeding Brünnich’s Guillemot (or Think-billed Murre) but especially with a good chance of seeing Polar Bears.
At 7:00 p.m. I attended the cocktail party for the First-timers in the Observation Lounge and socialised with the guests who were travelling on Silver Explorer for the first time.
After dining, I reflected the events of another wonderful day onboard Silver Explorer.
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