Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Sunday, March 4, 2012

World of Ice

I'm noticing that other blogs are writing about the first signs of Spring. We are experiencing the second highest snowfall ever, with about two months of snowy weather to go. In the photo above, it's hard to tell where the painted snow and ice end, and the real snow begins. It's a large mural painted by the famous marine artist, Wyland. It covers the wall of our local JC Penny on Town Square in Anchorage. It is at least 50ft tall, and 200ft long. They are Bowhead Whales with a few Belugas.
This is the side door of a historic building and coffee house on Town Square. No one will be using this door anytime soon.
My reason for visiting Town Square, and nearby locations was to admire the snow and ice sculptures on display. This is an ice thunderbird that wears a snowy cap. It's been standing for weeks without melting.

Downhill from Town Square, near Ship Creek is the location for the state ice sculpture championships. My friend Gary Lyon, with whom I travelled to Ecuador, Thailand, and last winter, to Uganda, is on the winning team. This is the winning sculpture. It is a Polar Bear playing piano and singing on a sheet of ice.
This Walrus is peeking up from beneath the ice. Gary and his team win almost every year. They will be going to the national championships next Feb. in Wisconsin.
Here is a view of downtown Anchorage from Ship Creek. It has open water because of tidal activity nearby.
I added another bird to my year list, (I dont actually tally a year list), this Dipper was on Ship Creek.
Normally, I dont go in for creative photography, but I played a little by turning these reflected trees upside down. The boulder is a large chunk of ice reflected in Ship Creek.
From Ship Creek, it is a hop, skip, and a jump to the start of the Coastal Trail. Someone saw Willow Ptarmigan right here a few weeks ago. I was vigilant, but saw no Ptarmigan, nor their tracks in the snow.

There was very little bird activity. The usual chickadees, magpies, ravens, and a lone Downy Woodpecker.
Where Chester Creek flows out of Westchester lagoon, there is a small amount of open water. Mallards are about the only species of waterfowl that endures Anchorage winters. They congragate in the few places that don't freeze over. I'm not sure if they survive off aquatic insects, or handouts by local do-gooders.
I wonder if they sleep more in winter to conserve energy stores? This hen did'nt quite trust me, but never moved either.


Steve's Bird Blog said...

Sorry I haven't commented on your blog for a while. I have been watching it when I get a chance and really appreciate you sharing your wonderful photos of Africa and Alaska and of course your beautiful art. Your blog is one of my favorites, I have learned also from reading your blog and envy your huge life list.


john said...

Thank you for your kind comments Steve. Talking about life lists, years ago, when I had about 130 birds on my life list, I ran into three more experienced birders. We birded together for a morning and I casually asked one woman how many bird species she had seen.
She said 534. I was astounded, thinking that I would tally birds up to 500 species and then quit counting. That did'nt happen.
Now when someone asks me how many species I have seen, I answer with a touch of shame because a really sharp eyed birder would have seen many more species, given the places I have birded. I know many birders who have more than twice as many birds as I have.

Grace | employment posters said...

I've never seen ice sculptures like these before. The person who made this: you are perfectly awesome!

Jeremy Pearse said...

John, although I love the look of winter, I'm rather glad that it is just about over here in MD. Not sure if you were born in Alaska but I suppose it helps as I'm not sure I could stand those freezing temps for so long! Probably one could get used to the cold though. Still I have to admit, the scenery is amazing so thanks for sharing the pics.

john said...

I was actually born in the Arizona desert Jeremy. Getting used to extreme cold or heat is a matter of attitude.
Usually I am able to escape the harshest part of winter by going to the tropics. Alaska winters have a kind of purity about them. Little pollution, no insects at all for most of the year.
The wilderness comes right into the middle of town. It's all invigorating to me.