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    A group of Greater Snow Geese in flight over an orange plain surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
    Leaving the Arctic before the end of summer, Greater Snow Geese migrate south over Quebec. They feed here for several weeks, then continue on to their wintering grounds on the East Coast of the United States. A 4000 km journey!

    Migratory birds on Bylot Island, Arctic

    However I got here, just 1500 km from the North Pole, my mission for the next few days is to follow a scientific team and to document the local biodiversity with my journalist friend Anne Pelouas. We’ve just arrived in the heart of Sirmilik National Park, in the migratory bird sanctuary of Bylot Island. I’m in photographer’s paradise!

    As we flew over this island the size of Jamaica, we were amazed by the beauty of the scenery in this kingdom of mountains and glaciers as far as the eye can see. South of the island is large, relatively flat regions covered with a wide variety of vegetation. This high arctic tundra is the nesting ground for the Greater Snow Goose.

    Close-up of a Greater Snow Goose.
    As the Greater Snow Goose searches through the mud, its head feathers often take on a rusty colour due to the iron residues in the soil. And to feed, it rips out plant roots with the denticles of its beak.

    Close-up of a white feather against a black background in sunlight.
    “As it is the case for many water birds, geese moult (shed and replace) all their flight feathers at once every summer, which leaves them flightless and vulnerable to predators,” according to the Centre d’études nordiques of Laval University.

    Among arid vegetation, a rock ptarmigan gazes into the distance.
    Although the moult has started on the head, this male still has his winter feathers. Every encounter with a rock ptarmigan is different!

    A golden plover near a small clump of lichen.
    In summer, many species of shorebird nest on the Arctic tundra. This golden plover is a highly migratory bird, flying thousands of kilometres to southern South America.

    A long-tailed jaeger spreads its wings against a blue sky.
    Although the long-tailed jaeger lives at sea, it becomes a land bird during the breeding season. On Bylot Island, this avian predator feeds mainly on lemmings.

    On Bylot Island, it’s not just birds, scientists and Inuit. Several people have already spotted polar bears. For security reasons, our camp is surrounded by a high electric fence. Outside this shelter, as the land here remains relatively flat and the sun shines constantly during the summer, it’s easy to spot a gigantic ball of white fur from a distance…

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