mandag den 20. august 2012

Thule Airbase

Having not previously visited the extreme north-western Greenland (besides a short fueling visit to Qaanaaq in April) it was with great expectations that I took off from Copenhagen on the 28th of July. The main purpose for the trip was to do an aerial survey of the Narwhals summering in the Melville Bay. We stayed at Thule Airbase during the weekdays and in Qaanaaq in the weekend as the airport in Thule Airbase was not open during weekends. 
Thule Airbase was build in 1953 forcing the locals to be relocated to Qaanaaq further north (not our proudest moment....) and was during the Cold War home to several thousand american soldiers. During our stay the total "population" was around 600 people. Thule Airbase is a very different experience when compared to the rest of Greenland, especially the more extreme villages (e.g. Upernavik and Qaanaaq).
Wildlife was quite good with several Arctic Fox families within the base and some very approachable Arctic Hares. Snow Bunting and Arctic Redpoll were the most common birds near the buildings but small lakes in the area had Red Knot, Common Ringed Plover and Bairds Sandpiper. Bairds is a scarce breeding bird in the Thule Area which is also the only place in Greenland to see it. In the bay Little Auks, Common Eiders, Black Guillemots, Kittiwakes and Fulmars were common. In the vicinity of the base we had white Gyr Falcon and a single Great Northern Diver (both from the plane). Two Polar Bears vistited the area during our stay but unfortunately we did not see any of them.   

1/8 Arctic Fox cub, Thule Airbase.

1/8 Arctic Hare, Thule Airbase. The hares are quite confiding.

1/8 Arctic Hare, Thule Airbase.

1/8 Arctic Hare, Thule Airbase.

2/8 Adult Bairds Sandpiper. The only bird I saw during my stay. The Thule Area is the easiest place in Greenland to connect with this species. Thayers Gulls may breed in the Thule/Qaanaaq Area but I did not see any. Hopefully I will find some on the next trip (two more to go!).

2/8 Common Ringed Plover. The most commonly observed wader in the area.

2/8 Typical Thule scenery. Not the most beautiful place in Greenland...

2/8 Cotton Grass sp, Thule Airbase.

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