Gone In a Flash

Written by Steve Earsom
Thursday, July 07, 2016

Photo of Stephen D. Earsom.“Steve, is that you?” Well, yes it was. I had just run into another friend I had made last year in Kuujjuaq during the Ungava survey. That survey took a while. Quite a while, in fact; long enough for me to walk on every road in town, and get to know a number of the locals, and others who, like me, were just in town for a short time to get a job done. We sat on the ground for 8 straight days waiting for weather to improve during that survey. But that was then.

As always, we enjoyed the kindness and generosity of those who live full-time in this remote corner of the globe, and were treated to sightings of snowy owls, lots of caribou, muskox, seals, ptarmigan, and of course the species of most interest for this survey, Canada geese.

The ice was somewhat later retreating this year, and most areas north of the line between Puvirnituq and Kangirsuk still had snow as well, which may have been part of the reason our raw estimate of geese was much lower this year than last, though last year was also a near-record high for the CAGO.

Having gathered our data and said hello and goodbye to a few of our friends, I pointed the plane to the “down south” destination of Quebec City a mere 8 days after leaving it. In another 24 hours I had returned the plane to Bangor and completed the trip back home. In a flash, another Ungava survey had become a memory.

The 2016 Ungava Crew. Left to right: Richard Cotter, Jean Rodrigue, and Steve Earsom. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

The 2016 Ungava Crew. Left to right: Richard Cotter, Jean Rodrigue, and Steve Earsom. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

One of the 3000' gravel strips found in the Ungava Peninsula. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

One of the 3000' gravel strips found in the Ungava Peninsula. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

An example of high density nesting habitat, near Puvirnituq.  Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

An example of high density nesting habitat, near Puvirnituq. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

The Ungava. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

The Ungava. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

Jean, Richard, Steve, and someone in the middle who keeps showing up. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

Jean, Richard, Steve, and someone in the middle who keeps showing up. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

Typical day in the Ungava. Airports are not so close. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

Typical day in the Ungava. Airports are not so close. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

Airport security in Puvirnituk. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

Airport security in Puvirnituk. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

Jean, never idle. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

Jean, never idle. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

Peanut butter and nutella, the lunch of champions. Fuel stop at La Grande Riviere. Photo Credit: Richard Cotter, CWS.

Peanut butter and nutella, the lunch of champions. Fuel stop at La Grande Riviere. Photo Credit: Richard Cotter, CWS.

Blocks of ice in Ungava Bay north of Kuujjuaq. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

Blocks of ice in Ungava Bay north of Kuujjuaq. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

An interesting video of the exploration of the Grande Riviere de la Baleine and the Ungava Peninsula is at www.nfb.ca/film/across_arctic_ungava. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

An interesting video of the exploration of the Grande Riviere de la Baleine and the Ungava Peninsula is at www.nfb.ca/film/across_arctic_ungava. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

Jean on the way home after his final Ungava survey. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

Jean on the way home after his final Ungava survey. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

Richard on the way home after his first Ungava survey. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.

Richard on the way home after his first Ungava survey. Photo Credit: Steve Earsom, USFWS.