Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Mystery Bird and Other Stuff.

My nephew Jeremy sent me a few more photos from Petersburg, including a mystery bird. This is not it. In fact, it's the local scavenger that hangs around his neighborhood.
Jeremy says he took this photo out of his window.

Another bird photo taken from his window. Also not the mystery bird. It's the dark, Northwestern race of the Song Sparrow.
This is the bird in question. Clearly a merganser, although it's not at all clear, concerning both focus and species.
At first I confidently e-mailed Jeremy, telling him it was a male, Common Merganser. Now I'm not entirely sure. It has odd markings. It may be a wierd Red-breasted Merganser, or possibly a hybrid of the two species. Any thoughts on the subject?
Yesterday I had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal at my nephew Danny's house in Wasilla. That's him at the head of the table. His wife Angie, at the bottom of the photo is a wonderful cook.
After stuffing my face, I went for a short walk with two of my nieces through the neighborhood. Surprisingly, there is no snow in Wasilla right now.

The temperature never rose above the low teens farenhiet. That's Jessie in the photo above.
Jessie leads her little sister Olivia through the woods on their property.
Late afternoon alpenglow on the nearby, Talkeetna Mountains.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Maggie goes to Sri Lanka

Maggie is another longtime friend of mine from my Arizona years. She currently teaches school in Oman, (Persian Gulf). Before that, she taught school in Quito, Ecuador. I met her when she was teaching art at Alchesay High School on the White Mountain Apache Reservation. That was sometime around 1989.
She just got back from a vacation to Sri Lanka, which is an island nation off the southeast tip of India.
While she was in Sri Lanka, she was able to visit a couple of nice nature reserves, Ella, and Uda Walawa National Park. She got some excellent opportunities to photograph wild Asiatic Elephants.
Can you see that there are two baby elephants in this photo?

She managed to see some really great wild critters, like this very impressive, Crested Hawk-eagle.

Another very impressive bird, Crested Serpent Eagle. It does not have a very impressive crest, but what a great photo. I only managed to get the briefest glimpse of one of these in Thailand. As the name suggests, they specialize in eating snakes and other reptiles.
Standoff with a Golden Jackal. I don't know if this is the same species called Golden Jackal in Africa.
A Peacock in all its glory. Wow.

Another great shot.

A Spotted Deer feeding her hungry fawn. As I understand it, there are no tigers on Sri Lanka. I believe that leopards are the top predators of the Spotted Deer.
The national birds, Sri Lankan Red Junglefowl. Talk about funky chickens, these have very distinctive combs.
Water Buffalo cooling off in a favorite wallow. Now that is the life.

A really fine shot of a White-browed Fantail Flycatcher. Maggie saw some really neat stuff in a short amount of time. Sri Lanka is yet another country that I would love to visit also.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I Wish I Was Dead

No, I don't really mean that. I'm not even all that depressed, just weighed down by the thought of another endless winter, and I'm too broke to get away to someplace warm. Gary and Tom are going back to South Africa, and they have a space for me. Unfortunately I cannot afford the trip, nor get the time off from work.
At least I don't have it as bad as this Moose. It will be lucky to survive the season at all.
Winter can be a lonely, and depressing time. I go to work in the dark, work all day in a windowless cubicle, and come home in the dark. On weekends I get to see some daylight.
Young people who grow up around here adapt to the weather much better than wimps like me who grew up in Southern California. The temperature was in the teens when I shot this photo. Shorts and t-shirt weather for some of these youngsters. As I go to work, I pass by groups of school children waiting for the bus. There are always several of them, (boys always) who are too macho to wear a coat.
Cabin fever, anyone? Being outdoors, even on the gloomiest of days can help to brighten up one's attitude.

There are natural ornaments on the trees of winter to lighten a heavy heart.
Some of them are not safe to loiter underneath for too long.
Red foxes, and some other opportunists, do just fine in harsh weather. I wish I could think like a fox.This painting from a few years back expresses my feelings about the newly arrived cold season. It's just something that has to be endured. That does'nt mean I can't whine about it from time to time.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The White Mountains of Arizona

Check out this wonderful photo of a Long-tailed Weasel. My old friend Richard Inman just sent this to me. It was taken on the White Mountain Apache Reservation. Richard worked there for many years with the BLM, or BIA, I forget which.
Richard also got this nice close up of a tiny, Western Chorus Frog, or Mountain Treefrog. I'm not sure which it is. Anyway, I lived in the White Mountains for 19 years before moving to Alaska. Richard and Jody Inman became good friends. I fondly remember many trips we took together, and many wonderful dinners at their house. Jody bakes the best cookies ever, healthy too.
Alaska is known for it's abundance of Bald Eagles. They are common in parts of AZ as well.  They winter in the White Mountains.

A prominant geographical feature of the White Mountains is the dramatic drop-off of the Mogollon Rim. Here Richard photographed a snag full of Ravens just below the lip of the rim. My house was about a quarter mile from the rim. I used to walk over to the Mogollon Rim Overlook several times a week.
AZ has big, magnificent Swallowtail Butterflies that are about four times bigger than the puny, and uncommon swallowtails around here. They seem to congregate at iris flowers.
Most people like butterflies a lot more than they like tarantulas. I really like them both. Every autumn is a good time to see tarantulas in the WM. The smaller males, like this one that Richard photographed above, become very active at this time of year.
Sometimes large numbers of males can be seen crossing the highway between Show Low, and Snowflake. They all die shortly after breeding, while the large females live on. None of them ever tried to bite me, with the exception of a pugnacious tarantula in Ecuador.
This is not the White Mountains, it is of course, the Grand Canyon. It lies about 150 miles northwest of the WM. The grand Canyon is pretty much my favorite place on earth. I fantasize that after I die, my soul will sail over the formations, and haunt the lonely side canyons. At least until I find an even better paradise.
This is not the Grand Canyon. It is the White Mountains. I bet that most of you had no idea that country like this existed in Arizona. It does, and it covers a large area in eastern/ central AZ. It abounds in wildlife, including the world's largest Elk.
So here are Jody and Richard, and a friendly wolf. Richard is also an enthusiastic collector of fine Persian rugs. Jody really likes to dote on her grandchildren. They actively travel to the natural areas in the western US.