Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

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 The old telephone hotline has been replaced by AK Birding, (an e-mail notification service that I check daily).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.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

More From Bart

A favorite target for visiting birders and local hunters alike. Spruce Grouse are common birds in Southcentral Alaska but they tend to blend into the forest. You never seem to see one when you look for them. This is a female.
Railroad tunnels between Anchorage and Seward from last Summer.
Bart's wife Sandy working on a Winter sun tan.
Bart's sailboat. His wife does not love it.
Mt. Denali and Mt. Foraker taken from Mt. Baldy.
My nephew's pet Gray-banded Kingsnake emerging from hibernation. That's all I got.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

More Bart Photos

Alaska's state bird, Willow Ptarmigan.
One of Mike's past Mt. Marathon runs. Heavy fog obscured the beautiful scenery. Mike is one of Bart's three sons. He has a daughter as well.
A lonely runner.
Three friendly Moose at Portage.
Notice the star? It is on a hillside near Anchorage.
A Bonaparte's Gull.
Red-breasted Nuthatch and Christmas light.
Violet Green Swallow nesting in Bart's backyard.
The source of Anchorage's water, Eklutna Lake. None of my photos of the place are so picturesque.
Shroedel Lake.
River Otter family at the boat harbor in Seward.
I have never managed to photograph River Otters. I'm jealous.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Recent Bart Photos

Bart recently sent me a new batch of his photographs. This may be Portage Glacier. Anyway this tour boat got up close and personal with the calfing glacier.
He did not take this photo in the Winter. You just know it was cold anyway balancing on the ice chunks.
Christmas tree with natural frost.
An overloaded fishing boat in Prince William Sound.
Bart on his sailboat in PWS.
A curious Bald Eagle.
Beach Lake near Bart's home in Eagle River.
Beach Lake shore.
Eagle River overlook.
Kinkaid Park in Anchorage. I seldom go there because it is clear across town.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Waxwing Painting etc

My latest painting is small, 8x10", but it took forever. I got discouraged with it from the get go and kept setting it aside. Eventually I forced myself to finish it although I may do more adjustments. 
I think that Bohemian Waxwings could potentially make a glorious subject for a painting but so far I have been largely disappointed with my many efforts.
I have been seeing a lot of them this Winter but have not tried to photograph them. I already have dozens of photos of waxwings.
I will flesh out this post with some recent photos by Bart Quimby. These photos were taken from Bear Mountain near his house.
Bear Mountain looks relatively flat on top but has very steep sides. I have never climbed up there.
A makeshift cairn on top. That is Knik Arm in the background.
This may be Peter's Creek but I'm not sure.
This is a mountain I have climbed many times, Mt. Baldy. Bart used to climb it every morning before work. Now he is retired.
The first time I climbed it in 1997, I sat down on top to take in the scenery. Then I heard some soft clucking. I looked around and then noticed that some of the rocks around me were moving. When I focused on them I realized that they were Rock Ptarmigan. They were all around me.
I never climbed it in the Winter. The cold and treacherous footing does not discourage Bart.
Bart even climes it in the dark. This is Eagle River at the foot of Mt. Baldy.
A nice panorama. Anchorage lies on the other side of the mountain on top.