Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Jeremy's Photos etc.

My nephew, Jeremy Parker lives in Petersburg, Alaska with his wife Lana and their young family. I have been pressuring him lately to send me some photos from his part of the state. The problem is that he does not have the best camera. My belief is that any camera is capable of taking great photos under the right circumstances. Jeremy sent me a few photos and promises to work on getting me some more.
Petersburg is a small town south of Juneau in Alaska's panhande. It is in the temperate rainforest, and rain is the operative word .
There are many differences between Petersburg and Anchorage. For example, they see many Sitka Black-tailed Deer and few Moose. We see many Moose and no deer in Anchorage. Petersburg has an abundance of sealife, while Anchorage has extensive mudflats with shallow seas, and little in the way of marine creatures.
This is a mossy antlered Blacktail Deer in Jeremy's yard. I have never seen a Sitka Blacktail.
While insects are somewhat scarce around Anchorage, Jeremy says that there are many insects around Petersburg. I like the white X on the abdomen of this spider in Jeremy's window. Someone told me that there are even the highly venomous, Brown Recluse Spiders in Alaska.
The rest of these photos are just some recent views from the fields next to my home, like this road that ends at the top of this mound.

The best point of interest around is the Russian Orthodox Church across the way. It frankly looks better from a distance.
These telephoto views make it appear as if the mountains are very close to the church. The truth is that the church and the mountains are seperated by a lot of city. It is very difficult to access the mountains from here. They are a part of JBER military base and I know of no trails leading up into the hills from this section of town.
This photo gives the impression that the church is nestled within a dense forest. The reality is that the church is surrounded by an asphalt parking lot that seperates it from dense housing and a busy street in front. There are a number of apartment complexes between the fields and the church. I would still like to paint the church from this perspective someday.
Because of the large volume of rain lately, there are some good sized puddles in the fields. Mallard Ducks have lost no time exploiting them. I have no idea what they are finding to eat. There are no aquatic insects or plants in these temporary pools so far as I know.

A parting shot.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Blow Down, Part Two

Other than mosquitos, (which are all but gone right now) Alaska has very few insects. I remember seeing a spider web last Summer, but the spider I saw today was the first I've seen in quite some time.
My younger brother was terrified of spiders. He could'nt even watch that movie, Arachniphobia. Cockroaches are about the only non-parasite that I truly loathe. This guy was only about as big as the tip of my little finger. It's abdomen looked like a brain. I have no idea what species it may be.
The rest of this post will be a few more photos  I shot yesterday at Russian Jack Park.
Many of the blown over trees blocked the path, but they have been cut away. There are still many more trees lying across Chester Creek. They may end up changing the course of the creek.
I really wanted to find some good critters to photograph. I only heard one Red Squirrel. The only birds I saw were Canada Geese, Black-capped Chickadees, and a Magpie. I also heard some Red-breasted Nuthatches, Common Redpolls, and a Steller's Jay. So you see, birding is terrible around Anchorage these days.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Big Blow Down

To go along with the high winds that we have been experiencing this Fall, there has been an immense amount of rain. Seward is half inundated from the foot of rain it has had in the last week. Talkeetna is currently being evacuated. There is flooding all over, but thankfully not in my part of town.
Today there was a brief respite from the continuous rains, so I walked through Russian Jack Park. The photo above is a Chickadee foraging in the foliage of a blown down tree.
At my first assessment, I estimated that 10% of the mature trees in Russian Jack had blown over. The real number is probably closer to 1%. That's still many thousands of trees.

Some parts of the park have really opened up. There is down firewood everywhere.

Not all of the park shows much damage. From a distance, it all looks normal. The Canada Geese above enjoy the green grass of the park's ball fields.
Autumn is always the prettiest time to do some photography.
The red leaves are not Maple leaves, they are Highbush Cranberry leaves.
This Devil's Club has been somewhat ravaged by the harsh weather of late. It's still better weather than what is coming all too soon.
This is not smoke from a smoldering fire, just steam rising from wet leaves. The whole park has the earthy smell of decaying vegetation and wet earth. A very pleasant odor to me.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Eye Candy

Finally I managed to drum up enough enthusiasm to pick up a paint brush and get back to work. This is a detail of the latest, (un-exciting) painting. Obviously, (to a birder anyway) this is a Yellow Warbler.
This is the entire painting. Eye Candy, 8x10". It's not that this painting is so bad. I'm just bored to death with my own limitations as an artist. I have already painted everything that I ever wanted to paint. That is the real crux of the creative funk that has gripped me for the last month.
I cannot seem to climb up to the next rung on the ladder. Abandoning realism and wildlife art are ideas that do not appeal to me, so what do I do? I wish I knew.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

After the Hurricane

Not really a hurricane, just a fierce windstorm with hurricane force winds. Gusts up to 130mph. I've been incommunicado since last Tuesday, Sept. 4. The winds knocked out Anchorage's power, water, etc. I have been without telephone or internet until this morning.
It is not fun to go days without being able to flush the toilet, bathe, cook, wash dishes etc. Many, many trees were knocked over. I estimate that 10% of the mature trees in Russian Jack Park are down. The sound of chainsaws is everywhere.
Yesterday the winds subsided. I headed for the Coastal Trail and Westchester to see what things the winds may have blown in. The temperatures were in the low 50's farenheit. There were several unfamiliar birds singing from down in the densest foliage, but I could'nt manage to get a good enough look at any of them.
Last week I went to the C.T. and saw very little. This time, there were some migrating Sandhill Cranes. They will be gone in about another week, so I really wanted to savor their company while I could. It's going to be a long, lonely Winter all too soon.
These cranes are certainly not in their prime breeding colors. Their crowns are barely red. Does that mean that they are immature birds? I'm not sure.
Near Westchester Lagoon, there was a Belted Kingfisher in it's usual place. It has been absent for most of the Summer. Notice the cattails? Beleive it or not, cattails are uncommon this far north.
The Canada Geese are getting restless and forming flocks in preparation for their upcoming migration. They are one of the last of the migratory bird species to fly south. Things like swallows and flycatchers are long gone. The geese dont leave until the first snowfall

Magpies stay all year. Bad weather does not seem to affect them at all.
On the artwork front, I sold a few small paintings in the last few weeks, and I have several ongoing and upcoming artshows happening. Nevertheless, I'm pretty discouraged about the art market, and it has a negative affect upon my painting. I have not had the enthusiasm, nor inspiration to pick up a paint brush lately. I'm pretty sure that it's a temporary situation.