Monday, August 29, 2016

August, 3. Around the Koni Peninsula

August, 3. Around the Koni Peninsula

The weather window we had, according to the forecast, was roughly 2 and a half days. We opted to go around the Koni Peninsula. We rarely visit this part of the peninsula because it is exposed to the Sea of Okhotsk proper and is subject to violent storms. Even in calm weather the swell prevents landing, and, in addition, the coastline lacks any bays or inlets where you can hide. Even beaches are absent along the majority of the coastline.

The plan was to use the reserve's boat, and combine the patrol trip with the eagle surveys. Equipped with a 90hp outboard, it is fast enough to get out of the exposed shore relatively quickly.

The stretch between the Ploskiy Cape, where the ranger's station was, and the Taran Cape with the lighthouse had 2 nests with chicks (two and one chicks) and one new occupied territory. The surprise was the low numbers of bears. We saw only 4, whereas the usual number would be 10-12.

Here is the bear which tolerated us.

The view of the Koni Penninsula from the South is stunning. Curtains of fog and combination of bright sun and dark underclouds made for an absolutely spectacular view.

The Taran Cape with its lighthouse greeted us with a nice view.

Immediately behind the Taran Cape we saw first possible poachers. Unfortunately they did not have their fishing lines in the water, so we advised them to keep 2 km away from the shoreline. They obeyed.

We saw at least three other boats, but they were well within the legal limits in terms of the distance from the shoreline.

Meanwhile we were heading towards a wall of fog....

Will we manage to continue the survey....???

Monday, August 22, 2016

August, 2. Trip to the Koni Penninsula

August, 2. Trip to the Koni Penninsula

Early on a foggy morning we came to the Ola lagoon and started to board the Reserve's speedboat destined for the Ploskiy Ranger's station. The station (and the boat) is positioned to protect the Koni Peninsula portion of the Magadan State Nature Reserve and its coastline. The latter is very attractive to the growing body of the Magadan boat owners because this is the place where you can catch a lot of good sized halibut. We loaded our inflatable with all supplies and equipment, and, slightly overloaded, went off with the coming tide.

In an hour and a half we arrived to the Ploskiy ranger's station and managed to unload the boat right at the station, having arrived precisely at high tide.

The station now boasts a new summer kitchen built earlier this summer and a newly laid foundation for a scientific lab. Step in right direction, Reserve!

This photo was taken through the window of the new kitchen.

There was only a small amount of pink salmon in the river so the bears were not as numerous as in the past year(s).

Nevertheless the creek estuary was packed with seals and gulls, as per usual.

We stayed for the rest of the day at the Ploskiy range's station, as we helped deliver a big barrel of fresh water. It was dropped from a friend's fishing vessel some distance from the coast, and we towed it to the station. Hard manual labour.

By the end of the day we prepared for the trip along the coasts of the Koni in the reserve's boat.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

August 1st, Magadan

August 1st, Magadan

The entire day was spent in Magadan. I had to prepare our inflatable boat for the sea trips. Last year it was washed with fresh water, so the salt won't interfere with glue. This time I had to apply some patches. A minor work.

Meanwhile the town of Magadan is getting close to a new era. The water treatment plant was about to start its operation. However the rumours were a bit premature. The scheduled opening which was planned for August, 3, has been postponed till September.

So, the city of Magadan continues to dump waste water into the Gertnera Bay. To be benefit of some plankton. Currently, the pipe which dumps untreated waste waters into the Gertnera Bay of the sea of Okhotsk makes a fountain visible from the space.

Friday, August 19, 2016

August, 1st. Retrurn to Magadan. Part B.

August, 1st. Retrurn to Magadan. Part B.

On the final lag of the route we witnessed an amazing sunset from the Arman Pass. The sun was shining above the mountain valleys filled with clouds.

What scenery.

The map of this portion of the trip, logged by our satellite tracker is below.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

August, 1st. Retrurn to Magadan. Part A.

August, 1st. Retrurn to Magadan. Part A.

The trip to Magadan was rather trivial. We stopped by the ferry at the Yana river, and had to wait there in a queue for quite a while.

There was a local milk vendor was selling some milk, home-made farmer's cheese and fresh-baked buns. Excellent taste. Her local nickname was the "Millionaire".

She lives in this cabin, one third of which is occupied by a processing shop, one third, as the cooling unit suggests, by a large freezer.

She has 4 cows that graze of the salt marshes, and hires a local guy who is not drunk.

Occasionally for milk delivery she uses this taxi. For simplicity the hood is missing, so are the number plates. An antenna, attached to nothing makes a strong impression. The doors are closed with ropes from outside. The windows are replaced by plastic. Safety first!.  Unfortunately the owner got a flat tire, and had to walk home by foot. Inner tubes for Russian-made cars are in short supply. Majority of the fleet in Magadan and district is Japanese (with tube-less tires, I have to say).

On the ferry we also saw a famous off-road vehicle GAZ-66, which was converted into a bus. What an ultimate off-road vehicle. Note a snorkel on the roof. It can go across all rivers in the region.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

August, 1st: The Tauy river and flying with the eagles

August, 1st: The Tauy river

On the following day we went downstream along the mighty Tauy River to the Talon settlement.

Only one pair along this stretch of the river had a productive nest, so we had to check it thouroughly.

That is the case, where the drone application was warranted. The nest was on top of the dominating poplar tree, about 500 from the river and no vantage point to observe the inside nest.

I took off the drone from the gravel shallow bank and flew towards the nest. Initially I overshot and had to go back to the nest with the camera pointing down. After locating the nest I set the drone in a good position to see the nest, and to my surprise I saw through the an adult bird prey to the nest. The bird put the fish (yes, it was headless coho salmon) on the nest, and took off. Then the second bird arrived, and sat on a branch next to the nest. I clearly head some vocalization of the eagle, and then I had to retreat as the battery indicator went low. The images taken by the camera were amazing.

At the lunch time we were at the Talon village, and after a customary visit to the local meteo station to get the flood data we set off to Magadan.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

July, 31. Downstream the Chelomdja river.

July, 31. Downstream on the Chelomdja river.

We set off early in the morning, making stops at every known nest. We have made several drone flights, and also got a nice video footage of the adults at a nest with one chick. We simply left the camera running at the river’s gravel bar, and went upstream for lunch.

In total the Chelomdja River had 4 productive nests with one chick each, and a total of 7 occupied territories.

At the end of the day we arrived to the Centralniy ranger’s station. It was Sunday, and the rangers were on high alert as there was a lot of cars with boats downstream on the border of the nature reserve, and they worried that poachers would enter the reserve for fish.