Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Dan's Alaska

These photos are just a random sampling of some of Dan Holayter's fine photographs of the Eagle River Valley near his home, with a few shots of waterfowl in Anchorage. The photo above is in the hills above Eagle River in the Fall with Winter already in the higher hills.
A scenic overview of the main part of the ER Valley. There is a road and homes on the left side of the valley, while the rest of it is genuine wilderness, full of bears, moose, and lots of other wildlife. High on the slopes there are Dall Sheep and Mountain Goats.
The view from the valley floor. I have spent a whole lot of time poking around these parts at all times of the year.
A young Black Bear that was chased up a tree in Dan's yard by the neighbor's dog.
A mama Moose and young calf in Dan's backyard. Yesterday I watched another Moose with a nearly independent calf saunter across one congested street in Anchorage, and down the center of another busy street with heavy traffic streaming past all around them. Then they casually began browsing on the bare vegetation just off the edge of the street.
The two Moose laid down to rest next to Dan's grandchildren's playground equipment.
Baby Moose are only cute for a few short months. Then they become gangly and awkward.
It's just a Mallard drake, but I like this portrait.
The hen Mallard is equally elegant.
Dan's portrait of one of the Trumpeter Swans at Spenard Crossing last April.
A parting shot of Turnagain Arm south of Anchorage in the Winter.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Progress and the Mini Adventure

This past February I had another great trip to Seward where I shot a series of decent photos of Harlequin Ducks resting on some rocks. It looked to me like some good reference material for a possible future painting.
So, without much enthusiasm I'm afraid to admit, I started a new painting several weeks ago. I should be working on it right now. Instead I'm writing this post and trying to adjust the brakes on my bicycle at the same time. I will take it out for the first spin of the season in a short while. The painting will have to wait until I can feel a spark of inspiration about it.

Yesterday after lunch I found a few minutes to head over to Spenard Crossing to look for new arrivals. The ice has opened up in a few spots and waterfowl are wasting no time at all to exploit the seasonal habitat. Above is a pair of Common Mergansers and a male, Common Goldeneye.
A cute little, female Common Goldeneye.
The males are starting to pay some serious attention to the females, and to rival males.
There was also a lonely, male Bufflehead who had no female to impress.
One pair of Barrow's Goldeneyes, just right for each other, at least until another male shows up.
A report of Trumpeter Swans was the incentive I needed to cross town in hopes of seeing the first swans of the season.
There was pair of them, probably the same pair that made an appearance at this same time last year.
They make wonderful subjects for photos. Too bad I don't have a sharper lens to get better images. Reducing them in size for the blog makes the images look much softer, and more grainy than the full size photos. The prints I make from these photos are much clearer.
There was also a single Redhead that shadowed the swans for a time. Redheads are far less common this far north than Trumpeter Swans. Amazingly I also saw a Common Loon in Chester Creek although it would'nt pose for photos. Loons are birds of large water bodies. It's very unusual to see them in a creek.
I guess that if the creek is the only open fresh water around, and that is where the fish are, then the loon takes what it can get. Now I'm off on a bike ride.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Big Island Wildlife

There are several categories of birds to be found on the Hawaiian Islands. The most interesting group of birds are the endemic species like Iiwi and Apapane. These are birds whose ancestors arrived on the islands in the distant past and evolved into divergent species over time. The next group are the migratory birds, like shorebirds that winter on the islands, or seabirds that nest on the islands and then disperse to the open ocean.      The most abundant group of bird species are the introduced birds like Cardinals and House Finches. Perhaps the least abundant group of birds are those that arrived on to the islands without the assistance of mankind, but have not evolved into species that are genetically distinct from mainland populations. There are only a few species that belong in that category, and Black-crowned Night Heron is one of them. The photo above, and all those that follow were shot by my friend Dan Holayter. I have seen Black-crowned Night Herons in almost every country that I have visited. They occur everywhere except the polar regions.
One of the many introduced species, Java Sparrow. Beautiful and abundant in developed areas.
A species that winters on the islands, Royal Tern.
Like tropical areas everywhere, Hawaii has bugs; big ones like this Walking Stick on the window screen.
There is one species of seal, the endangered Monk Seal, that occurs on some of the outer islands. This is a California Sea Lion above. Part of some kind of a show for the benefit of the tourists.
An exhausted sea turtle recuperates on the beach.
A Hammerhead Shark patrols the shallows.
The toothy, Barracuda.
Some large sting rays. I believe that these are Cow-nosed Rays.
I believe that these are fish in an aquarium featuring local sea life.
Petroglyphs that were made by the Ancient Hawaiians.
Aloha from the big island.
On the local front; the temperature this afternoon is above freezing and I saw the first gulls of the season today. Spring is springing, and I signed some contracts to have my artwork featured in several calendars and other publications throughout the USA and Canada. Life is sweet.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Pele's Creations

Mauna Loa volcano on the big island of Hawaii is the home of the fire god, Pele. Volcanos gave birth to the Hawaiian Island chain, and the most active volcanos are on the youngest island of the chain, Hawaii.
Dan Holayter provided photos for two of my recent posts, Prince William Sound, and Northern Arizona. He and his family also own a house on the big island of Hawaii. These aerial shots of Volcanos National Park, and the other Hawaii photos were all shot by Dan.

Could this be Pele's fearsome eye?
All of this coastline was once flowing lava. Now it is covered by lush tropical vegetation.

Flying over the dramatic coastline provides views of some breathtaking scenery.
Some of the most breathtaking sights are the many waterfalls. Imagine swimming in this pool. I wonder if anyone ever does it?
Dan provided me with many awe inspiring photos of waterfalls. It was hard to winnow them down to just a few representative photos. 
Dan's son Danny and his girlfriend whose name I do not recall. Danny cut his hair and no longer has that particular girlfriend since this photo was taken.
Most of Hawaii's wildlife are species that have been introduced within the last century. There were no reptiles, nor mammals before the arrival of humans. The original Polynesians introduced rats and Hawaii's only snake, a tiny worm snake commonly referred to as a Pot Snake. This is a Green Anole that naturally occurs in the Southeastern United States.
An even more attractive lizard, a Madagascan Day Gecko.
Another Day Gecko. I believe that these are Gold Dust Day Geckos. Hawaii also has House Geckos, Jackson's Chameleons, and a number of other introduced herps.
Almost all of the birds that are seen in Hawaii are introduced species like this Saffron Finch, originally from South America. Because of Avian Malaria and competition from introduced birds, almost all of the original species are either extinct, or only occur above about 4000 ft in elevation. Most tourists never see a native Hawaiian bird when they visit the islands.
There is more to come from beautiful Hawaii.