Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Fins and Feathers

Ship Creek is busy right now with spawning King Salmon. This is the tail end of their season.
The right salmon, (male) shows a lot of wear and tear but was still enthusiastic about spawning.
They often spawn in very shallow water.
Spawning can often be a very tumultuous affair.
There were also some Pink or Humpback Salmon.
This Greater Yellowlegs was chasing salmon fry at Potter Marsh. Most of the shorebirds have already flown south. This bird will be gone soon.
It was very tame.
It was far more intent on chasing small fish than worrying about people.
A successful shrike.
All the adult ducks are gone and there are only a few species of juvenile ducks left in town.
Green-winged Teal and Greater Yellowlegs.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Bart in the Desert

Since I have spent my time lately illustrating the new children's book, I have not been anywhere intresting; So I will report on Bart's latest travels to the Southwest. The photo above is somewhere in Utah.
Desolate but beautiful.
A Red-shafted Flicker and friend.
Bart purchased a fixer-upper house in Bisbee where his daughter Sarah lives. 
Bisbee is a very funky town in Southeast Arizona near the border. My dad worked the copper mines there when he was young.
A panorama of the area.
In my youth I camped nearby and had some wild adventures with skunks and rattlesnakes among other things but I escaped unscathed.
The Milky Way.
A female Broad-billed Hummingbird.
They only occur in Southeast Arizona and points south into Mexico.
Although the female above shows hints of real beauty it is the male that displays spectacular colors.
There are many species of sparrows in the area and the Black-throated is the most striking and common.
It even displays a short crest.
A male House Finch. I miss Arizona but do not desire to move back.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Wolf and a Visit to the Marsh

My latest painting is 11x14" and titled, 'Hiding in the Alders. I hate it.
The wolf is not terrible but the Alders are very sloppy.
On Friday evening, (long days in Anchorage so it was like mid-day) I went to Potter marsh with friends. We got close to an Alder Flycatcher.
There were some large King Salmon near the long boardwalk.
There were also nesting Tree Swallows along the boardwalk.
A Savannah Sparrow.
In another part of the marsh we encountered nesting Arctic Terns.
We saw a hungry chick just a few feet from the Seward Hwy. Notice the fish at its feet.
It didnt touch the fish but got excited at the approach of a parent.
The adult gave the chick a dragonfly.
Dragonfly is probably not a satisfying meal, but its better than nothing.
Soon the parents returned with a grass covered fish.
It swallowed the fish without most of the grass.
At the very South end of the marsh we saw some Ring-necked Ducks which are not all that common around here.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Regular, and Irregular Birds

The migrants are pouring into Anchorage right now. Some are just passing through, most of them are here to breed. The air is filled with the songs of White-crowned Sparrows and warblers.
They sit proudly in trees and bushes.
Steller's Jays stay all year but are much more conspicuous in the Summer months.
The same is largely true of Robins although they are scarce in the Winter.
Anchorage has lots of Black-capped Chickadees. What is irregular about this individual is obvious, the deformed beak. Anchorage has the dubious distinction of having more birds with deformed beaks than anyplace else.
A great deal of research is being done to figure out why. Black-capped Chickadees and Northwestern Crows seem to be the species most affected but several other species also show deformed beaks.
Researchers lean toward a genetic, rather than an environmental cause. It remains a mystery
Red-necked Grebes are on the nest wherever there is water.
Arctic Terns are back in town.
Waterfowl, like this Pintail are back in force.
They are a beautiful duck.
I was delighted to see Sandhill Cranes along the coastal trail.
Even the fish are back. I think this is a large Rainbow Trout because it is too early for salmon.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Much Wanted New Bird

A number of years ago Anchorage had a rare bird hotline that I called regularly. One day I called the number and learned about an unusual bird in Sitka Park in Anchorage. I rushed over to Sitka Park and searched the small park diligently. (The Common Goldeneye above is not that bird.) My desired bird was around for less than one day and I missed it
These goldeneyes were at Spenard Crossing last week.
Anyway I had a very frustrating weekend. I was busy on Saturday and did not check my e-mails until after 9:00 pm. The old telephone hotline has been replaced by AK Birding, (an e-mail notification service that I check daily).
I read that my target bird was back in town for the second time ever, at Cuddy Park this time, and I checked my e-mail too late to do anything about it.
On Sunday I had commited to spend Easter Sunday at my nephew's house in Wasilla. It was a wonderful day with great food but I was sure that I would miss seeing my bird again. (this Trumpeter Swan from last week was not it.) I had to wait until Monday to get out to Cuddy Park.
More Trumpeter Swans and Mallards.
These swans have just arrived in town in the vanguard of the Summer rush of migratory birds. They will move on soon.
Here is the new bird I was so afraid that I would miss. Know what it is? It is a goose that is normally restricted to the Aleutian Islands in Winter.  They nest mainly in The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in Western Alaska. They nest on the tundra or among Tussock Grass. Anchorage is well out of their usual migration path and habitat.
 It is an Emperor Goose.
Thankfully it was very tame around humans and allowed close approach.
It was keeping company with Canada Geese which were slightly larger. I was happy to finally tick off such an elegant bird. It's a beauty.