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ARCTIC AUTUMN by Pete Dunne

ARCTIC AUTUMN

A Journey to Season's Edge

By Pete Dunne

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-618-82221-8
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Naturalist Dunne (Bayshore Summer: Finding Eden in a Most Unlikely Place, 2010, etc.)—the vice president of the New Jersey Audubon Society and director of its Cape May Bird Observatory—explores the rigors of the high arctic, a place where life is pushed to its limits by nature and threatened by the incursions of man.

The author begins his chronicle of the emergence of fall in the far north on the Summer Solstice in June 2007—a day when the sun never sets, a harbinger of the cold weather to come. Dunne and his wife had traveled 2,400 miles to Canada's Bylot Island, a spot 25 miles north of Baffin Island, the largest island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. To their west was a marshy plain with the world's largest breeding colony of greater snow geese—all of whom would have migrated to a warmer climate by September—and to the north, the Aktineaq Glacier area. They were there to observe the birds and to witness large caribou herds beginning their migratory journey south. Throughout, the author shares magical experiences, such as the moment when he makes eye contact with a polar bear standing on the ice. However, he writes that his major concern is the threat to the geese and caribou—and to nesting raptors such as peregrines and golden eagles—by the combined destruction of their natural habitat from the effects of global warming and “the colossal oil-extracting infrastructure” that he witnessed during a flight over the coastal plain west of Deadhorse, Alaska.

Readers will look forward to his next book, on winter, the last in a projected four-book series.