Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Hibernation Interrupted

It has been a long time since I have posted anything. That is because I have done nothing interesting.
It is the dead of Winter and nothing is stirring around these parts. I have been hibernating.  Until a few days ago when someone reported seeing an odd bird in their yard near the Coastal Trail. An expert birder stopped by to see it and realized that it was a Sharp-tailed Grouse.
Sharp-tailed Grouse do occur in  Alaska, in the interior. Until now, none have ever been seen in Anchorage
I have never seen one. Today my friend Dan and I went over to see it. It has been hanging around that neighborhood for nearly a month. We arrived at the neighborhood and saw a group of birders focused on a Crabapple tree. There was the bird, in plain sight, right next to the road.
I got an easy lifer. Now I can go back to sleep.

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.