Saturday, July 6, 2013

Following the Midnight Sun

Snæfellsjökull, Iceland after midnight
A 24-hour sun is a characteristic of an Arctic or Antarctic summer.

Inhabited areas in the Arctic Circle experiencing this phenomenon are known as the Land of the Midnight Sun.

"Sight is a faculty; seeing, an art."
George Perkins Marsh, 1801-1882

Following the Light

The Arctic Tern is a migratory bird who follows the light by making a 44,300 mile round trip each year to experience the Arctic and Antarctic summers.

Arctic Tern Breeding & Migration
  • Breeding grounds (red),
  • Wintering grounds (blue), and
  • Migration routes (green).
"There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds... There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature -- the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter..."
Rachel Carson, 1907- 1964
Arctic Terns live up to 34 years. After 34 years the migratory air miles logged would be equivalent to three round trips to the Moon.

An Arctic Tern in attack mode
protecting her nest.
Some feisty Arctic Terns chased us back into our rental car when we tried to explore one of the black sand beaches on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland.

Several shrieking alarm calls, combined with near-vertical dive-bombing routes aimed at the tops of our heads, indicated our presence was not welcome in what was probably a nesting colony.