Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Northeast Point

There is a peninsula that juts out to the Northeast of St. Paul Island. On a promontory at the very end of the peninsula is a gravestone overlooking a Fur Seal colony. The caption reads, 
James Heath
Gunners Mate
1st Class
USS Concord
Born 1864
Died 1894
I wondered why this lonely grave was so far from the cemetery near town, as far as it could possibly be. Was he some kind of a Pariah on the island? Our guide Doug told us a story of a sailor who fell in love with a lovely young maiden from the village. He jumped ship to be with her.... Then he admitted that he knew nothing about James Heath.
I googled his name and found out that he died of blood poisoning aboard ship and was buried on the point because his shipmates felt that it was a beautiful place. The sailors marked the grave with a crude wooden placard and later, the local Aleuts made this granite headstone and the village priest performed a burial service for him. A decent act.
Now the grave is mostly visited by local songbirds like this Pacific Wren. Another new bird for me.
This is where I finally tracked down my Alaska jinx bird; Snow Bunting. Jinx birds are species that should be fairly easy to find, but manage to elude a particular birder for years. 16 years in my case.
I even managed to see an immature Snow Bunting. It emerged from a burrow. Was that where its parents hid their nest? I don't know.
The northeast Point is also a good place to see many wild flowers like these extra tiny, Arctic Forget-me-nots.
Dewdrops caught on fuzzy leafed, Lupine.
Arctic Poppies.
I forget what these are called.
Okay bird experts, what is it? Here is a hint, it is not a junco. The next photo will reveal its identity.
The island form of the Gray-crowned Rosy Finch is larger and darker than mainland forms. The bird in the last photo is the juvenile of the species. This bird is perched on a crab pot near town.
A disheveled looking, Northern Fulmar. You can see why they are called tube-noses.
Another photo of the dark phase fulmar. Birds to the north of the Aleutians tend to be darker. Birds to the south are seldom dark.
There is still plenty of good stuff from the Pribilofs to come.

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