Polar Ducks Fall From the Sky, Seek Refuge at Kupol

As published in Kupol Times, our internal publication at Kupol:

Imagine you’re outside working a night shift in the blowing snow. Suddenly you hear a whistle of wings and feel something touch your back. You turn, and see an exhausted duck quivering in the snow at your feet. You look up and at that moment – out of the darkness – hundreds of ducks fall from the sky, hit you in the head, and land on the ground all around.

It may seem unbelievable, but that’s what happened at Kupol the night of October 26th.

The birds were long-tailed ducks or “sauk” – a common polar duck. They live in open sea and normally only come to the tundra to nest. It is difficult to estimate how many there were, but it was a huge flock covering hundreds of square metres. It halted the mine’s portal traffic for a while.

Our people at Kupol suspect that during migration the flock encountered gale force winds. Attracted by the lights of the mine, they landed there to rest and recover. After a few days, they continued on their journey.


Polar ducks huddle together for warmth at Kupol. Photo Credit: Timur Akhmetov (Deputy Environmental Manager, Kupol)