Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Post Christmas Meanderings

This random post will start with some photos that Bart shot along the cliffs south of Anchorage. There is a place where Dall Sheep often come down from their lofty realm to browse close to the Seward Highway. I have seen them in that area many times but I never had a camera handy when I saw them.
Bart got a great family shot of a ram, ewe, and lamb recently. The wind often blows away the snow on these exposed cliffs. That is what probably attracts the sheep.
A ewe and a nearly grown lamb. Right now Bart is exploring the Everglades in Florida. I hope he gets some great photos.
Although I have not posted any artwork in months that does not mean that I have been doing nothing. I was contacted by an author to illustrate a book geared toward young people. The author Barbara has published several previous books about Alaskan wildlife. The next book will be about Alaska birds. I think it may be a coloring book of some sort.
Barbara asked me to draw a Spruce Grouse to show her a sample of my work. Now she wants to meet me to work out the particulars for illustrating the book. I have been working on two other paintings as well but I am not ready to post photos yet.
For some reason I have been reminiscing about African grasslands. I got this photo of a male, Long-tailed Whydah in Marievale Wildlife Refuge in South Africa some years ago. 
Such a long tail does not make for efficient flying but it does impress the lady whydahs.
A close relative, Pin-tailed Widow. Both species are nest parasites that lay their eggs in the nests of other birds.
A Blacksmith Plover in the rain.
Another grassland inhabitant, Swainson's Frankolin.
Black-bellied Bustards are common in protected grasslands in much of sub-saharan Africa. They often do some odd dancing rituals in the hopes of impressing their fellow bustards. It does not seem to matter whether there is another bustard present or not.
The grasslands contain lots of fat grasshoppers to attract Southern Yellow-billed Hornbills.
That's it for this week.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Top Ten Birds in 2015

Not the most exciting bird sighting in the world but I guess that this is my best bird sighting in 2015. It is one of only two new birds for the year. I have been so busy with other things and lazy when it comes to birding. I missed many opportunities to see good birds, but I did get a few goodies. This is Anchorage's first Eurasian Collared Dove.
This is a photo that I stole off the internet. From Cornell if I remember correctly. It is a female, Purple Finch. My second lifer for the year was a female Purple Finch in Seward back in February. I did not manage a photo of my own.
There were also a few birds that were not new birds for me; just new for my Alaska bird list.
This is a photo that I stole from Wikipedia. Many local Alaska birders were thrilled to see a Terek Sandpiper on the Coastal trail. It is a Eurasian species. It showed up twice over the course of the summer. I also saw a few of them in Thailand some years ago.
A terrible photo, but a first for me in Alaska. This is a female, Cassin's Finch. They are very similar to Purple Finches.
Another new bird for my Alaska bird list. I was happy to see this Say's Phoebe on the Coastal Trail. They may be common as dirt further south, they certainly are not common around these parts.
Another common as dirt bird south of Alaska, this is my first Killdeer in Alaska. It was in Seward in Feb.
I usually see Marbled Murrelets in Seward in winter but this is the first that I got close enough to photograph.
Although I have seen Hooded Mergansers in Alaska several times. This male is the first that I managed to photograph. This individual is always accompanied by this female Common Goldeneye. They are regulars in Seward.
I am always happy to see Surf Scoters in Seward. We seldom see them in Anchorage.
I have only seen a handful of Blue-winged Teal in Alaska. I got one this summer in Anchorage.
It was also a thrill for me to find some Harlequin Ducks along Ship Creek in Anchorage this summer.
This is only the second, Costa's Hummingbird that I have seen in Alaska.
I think that is more than ten favorite birds. There are many other contenders but I have to quit somewhere.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

More From Nipomo

Don sent me some more photos from Nipomo, CA. This Long-tailed Weasel has a distinctive white spot in the middle of its forehead. I remember being with Maggie when we saw an identical looking weasel near the town of Greer in Arizona. I was not fast enough on the trigger to get a photo. It was gone in an instant.
BTW I am putting the finishing touches on a Short-tailed Weasel painting right now.
This one managed to snag one of the local birds. I think it may be a young robin. Weasels are cute but deadly predators.
An immature White-crowned Sparrow in great light that shows off its warm colors.
The less colorful adult White-crowned Sparrow.
A plethora of Anna's Hummingbirds.
That many hummingbirds can suck up a lot of sugar water.
Scrub Jays always make an impression with their loud voice, if not with their bright colors.
A nice close-up of a Northern Mockingbird. They can sing the day and night away borrowing the songs of many kinds of other birds.
I love this photo of a White-tailed Kite soaring past the moon.