The worldwide Augustana College experience

Adventures in Greenland

The team at Thule has had a lot of exciting adventures recently! In the past few weeks we have gone camping, explored an abandoned village, seen another polar bear, and have been productive in our bird surveys and in recapturing birds with geolocators.

Last week we camped out at a location called Booth Sound where our task was to find Red-necked phalaropes that had geolocators attached to them. Searching for the phalaropes required hiking through a marsh area where at some points we were up to our knees in water and mud. At one point, my boots got stuck in the mud and Kurt had to come rescue me. Fortunatly, not too long after that we found a new Red-necked phalarope and banded it. Throughout our hike we did not find any birds with geolocators but we did tag two new birds and catch a Parasitic Jaeger chick which was really fun for us. For the rest of our time in Booth Sound, we surveyed small islands for Arctic Tern nests. Arctic Terns are pretty incredible in that they have the longest migration of any bird. They migrate across the globe from their breeding areas in the arctic all the way down to Antarctica. Arctic Terns can also be extremely aggressive and protective of their nests. At some points during my survey, I had to duck because I had some angry Arctic Tern parents trying to dive bomb me while I was counting their eggs and chicks.

After that trip we took another trip to an area called Moriussaq where there was supposed to be a very large population of Arctic Terns. For this trip we invited two scientists from the NSF (National Science Foundation) to help us. They are in Greenland to study soil science and climate change in the arctic so it has been fun learning new things from one another. Unfortunatly, when we got to the site we could not spot a single Arctic Tern. Our time was not wasted though; Moriussaq used to be a Greenlandic village which is now abandoned, so we spent our time exploring it. It was pretty eerie because all of the homes were still filled with clothing, furniture, and pictures and there was a thick fog rolling in all around us. After finding the rotting remains of some walrus and a graveyard, we decided it was time to leave since we all had the heebie jeebies. Even though we did not survey any Arctic Tern nests, the trip was pretty memorable. While enjoying each other’s company, we also saw an old three mast sailing ship and even three seals playing together in the water.

Apart from long trips, we have been busy catching small birds around base and going on short day trips to the Witch’s Tit. We have been very successful this year in recapturing Atlantic Puffins with geolocators. At one point, we were on the boat with four puffins all bouncing around while we were taking samples and keeping our eyes out for a polar bear we had spotted earlier in the day. So with all of our long and short day trips, as well as trapping on base, we have been pretty busy recently. It is hard to believe I have less than two weeks left here. It has all been really fun and it is really fulfilling to work alongside experts from different fields and assist on such important and interesting research


greenland 1 (Parasitic Jaeger chick).

DSCF0259 (Arctic Tern egg starting to hatch)

DSCF0264 (View of Moriussaq)

DSC_0028(Polar bear at the Witch’s Tit)

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