Sunday, 27 July 2014

The End of Flowering

Emma Micalizzi

A last blast of colour from arctic fireweed (Chamerion latifolium).
July is almost over and almost all of the plants that we are monitoring have already finished flowering, and some species, such as purple saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia) and one flower fleabane (Erigeron eriocephalus), have already began dispersing their seeds.  It feels like not that long ago that we were walking through snow and tagging plants that hadn’t come up yet, based on dead growth from last year.  In fact, some of our sites still had snow in places just a couple weeks ago.  Now we are beginning to pull tags out of the warm tundra where plants have finished dispersing their seeds.  It seems like the plant life cycles move very quickly here as the plants try to fit everything in before the impending winter.  The transition between most of our species being in peak flower and virtually no plants flowering was a very abrupt one, and some of the plants that still had flowers last week now have rapidly developing fruit, like the Lapland lousewort (Pedicularis lapponica). 
Ice still present in the Sylvia Grinnell River, a reminder that winter is never far away.
Another reminder that we are in the Arctic,  We had thought that ground here had been thawed for a while until on one visit when I suppose the ice broke free of the permafrost.
Some fledglings newly out of their nest.
As the plants finish flowering, the fledgling birds flee their nests, and the last of the ice finally disappears, it feels like summer is making its last stand before temperatures beginning falling and winter encroaches on Iqaluit.  I feel like my summer has flown by and it’s hard to believe that Zoe will be back in one week, and that I will leave in two weeks.  I feel like I still have a lot that I want to do and see while I’m here, and I’m wondering how I will fit it all in.  Fortunately I did get an opportunity to go for a hike up the Sylvia Grinnell River last weekend, and it was nice to see a side of the tundra that was more desolate than some of our sites.  I’m still hoping that I’ll be able to go sea kayaking before I leave and see the islands where the Sylvia Grinnell River opens into the bay. 
I’m sure that these last two weeks will fly by as fast as the past two months and before I know it, I’ll be heading south to a land with trees and dark nights.  I have thoroughly enjoyed conducting the field work this summer and spending time in Iqaluit.  I think that this has been a great experience that I will take a lot from and I feel very fortunate to have had this opportunity.
The view from a hike up the Sylvia Grinnell River.

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