Page:Condor9(5).djvu/10

This page needs to be proofread.


VOL. IX SOME EXPERIENCES OF A COLLECTOR IN ALASKA By JOSEPH DIXON (Editorial Note.--Mr. Dixon is a member of the party headed by Miss A.M. Alexander for the purpose of exploring from a faunal standpoint some of the islands of southeastern Alaska. The following article is compiled with scarcely any emendations from personal letters written by Mr. Dixon to tile Editor of this Magazine. We hope we do not overestimate the interest which we believe should attach to such direct accounts of the conditions under which the field naturalist must work in that portion of our continent. This is in no wise intended as an exploitation of the scientific results of the expedition, which will doubtless be reported upon in an altogether differ- ent form.--J. G.) Windfall /-[arbor, Admiralty Island, JVfay. 2, ?9o7.--We made camp on the west side of the harbor in a little cove on April 17. We had to cut into a snow bank in order to make a level place to pitch our tents. We have six tents up but we need them all: three sleeping tents, one cooking tent, one work tent and a store room. When we came there was from four to eight feet of snow on the level but we have had several warm days so the snow is not so bad now. The only place you can hunt is along the beach. The harbor froze over last night and the alders have not opened their buds yet. The'skunk cabbage is just coming up. No flowers yet but we have seen two butterflies (not cabbage either!) as well as a Rufous Hummer today. We failed to get any of them however. I was just figuring up tonight and found that during the two weeks we have been here we have collected 171 specimens, 109 mammals and 62 birds. Of mam- mals we have two fresh bear skins, about 12 Microtus, seven shrews, two mink and about 65 Peromyscus. The Peromyscus average about: length 189; tail 98; hindfoot 23. This cannot be ]9. silkenss as we first supposed as the latter are much larger. It doesn't measure up right for P. keeni either. Perhaps it is nearer the mainland form. They are a rich brown on the sides. We saw our first bat last night, probably a Myotis of some kind. The bears are just coming out of their dens and are staying up around the snow slides and the upper edge of the timber where they feed on deer that are about starved to death. It is impossible to hunt them without snow shoes. The two skins were bought from the natives. One is an exceptionally fine one almost black. We have both skulls. They were killed about 30 miles south of here where they come out early. The minks we bought from the natives too. We can't find any and they only got eleven during the entire winter. Of birds we have taken: Canada Goose, Seaup Duck, Surf and White-winged Scoters, Pigeon Guillemot (half winter, half summer plumage), Marbled Murrelet, Short-billed and Bonaparte Gulls, Sooty Grouse, Northern Raven, Northwest Crow, Northern Red-breasted Sapsucker, Song Sparrow, Sitka Kinglet, Siskin, Hermit Thrush, Varied Thrush, Robin, Winter Wren, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Townsend Fox Sparrow and Sandwich Sparrow. A pair of small rosy red Crossbills were seen today. They were evidently not the White-winged. We saw an owl the other night that was almost as big as an eagle. We had just emptied both guns at a flock of geese when he flew out from a tall tree. We also heard another (Horned) owl hooting that night, and also what we call our "tin can owl." It had a little tinkling note something like that one at Bluff Lake, but it kept going all the time only stopping once in a while for breath. Another little owl was hollering over camp just at day break the other morning but we couldn't find him. The natives say there are lots of Ptarmigan