Untamed Land

Untamed Land
Untamed Land

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Mt. Marathon

Most of you have probably never heard of the Mt. Marathon race in Seward. It is a big deal in Alaska and runners come from all over the world to test their toughness against the mountain.
All of these photos were taken by Bart.
Mt. Marathon at the edge of Seward is not a long race. It is usually won by someone in less than 45 minutes.
The origin of it started in the 1800's. Two prospectors were drinking in a bar in Seward and one challenged the other to a race up to the top of the tallest mountain in Seward.
It is all uphill and very treacherous. This was an impressive feat to the other bar patrons and the Mt. Marathon race was born.
The race starts downtown on the 4th of July every year. It is a madhouse.
A large crowd assembles to cheer on the racers.
Bart's son Mike often participates. That is him in the blue t-shirt in the middle of the photo.
Not everyone is serious about winning.
The trail is brutal.
I mean brutal.
Some places are too rough for running and require careful rock climbing. There are race observers all along the route.
I believe that this man is the winner of this year's race. He is a college skiier at Alaska Pacific University.
One must be in top physical condition to be a race contender.
Many people fall and get injured every year. Last year one runner went missing on the mountain and has not been seen since.
Mike, (blue t-shirt) Finishes the race in about an hour. Not a contender so he is disappointed but I think it is an incredible feat.
He looks back at the mountain after the race. He may not have won a prize but he earned his battle scars.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

A New Painting and a Good Bird

I had intended to do another post from Seward but recent sightings have put that on hold.
On Tuesday the sun was shining after a few weeks of rain. I decided to see if there were any shorebirds left at Westchester and along the Coastal Trail.
There were several Belted Kingfishers at Westchester.
A Magpie had to photobomb the kingfisher.
The ducks are not showing at their best this time of year.and most species have migrated out of here. There were these young Greater Scaup but their parents have left them behind.
There were still some American Wigeons around along with the ubiquitous Mallards and a few ducks too far away to identify..
The bird experts say that in Anchorage you seldom see pure Herring Gulls or Glaucous-winged Gulls. Most are hybrids. This bird was clearly a hybrid Herring/ Glaucous-winged Gull.
The adult Bonaparte's Gulls were gone but there were lots of juveniles present.
 On the Coastal Trail there was a local artist busy at work along Fish Creek.
Nice work.
Westchester still had a few Short-billed Dowitchers but this Greater Yellowlegs was at the Audubon Bench along the Coastal Trail.
There was also a post breeding, Spotted Sandpiper at the same place.
Then I noticed the 'good' bird. It was a non-breeding golden plover.
I have not seen one in at least 15 years.
At first I thought it was an American Golden Plover but when I sent the photos to the local expert birders, the consensus is Pacific Golden Plover. The main field mark for separating the two is the length of the primary feathers in relation to the tail.
American Golden Plovers have longer wings while the Pacific's wings barely project past the tail.
There are still local birders who think it is an American. I lean toward Pacific. Do any of you have an opinion on the subject?
Yesterday I finished this 11x14" painting of Trumpeter Swans at Potter Marsh.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Celebration of Sea Birds

The Alaska Sea Life Center takes in injured birds and sea mammals and releases them when they have recovered. Last Winter they took in hundreds of Common Murres that were starving in the big die-off. These die-offs are cyclical but last Winter's die-off was the worst in memory.
This is a photo that Bart shot of a recovered murre.
The Sea Life Center is a great place to photograph sea birds in a naturalistic setting, like this Pigeon Guillimot.
Another Bart photo of a murre and a moultling guillimot.
Bart got this great shot of a Tufted Puffin.
I had to be quick to get this photo of a Rhinoceros Auklet.
This female Harlequin Duck was a lot more cooperative.
Bart got this fine shot of a Horned Puffin.
A pair of Long-tailed Ducks.
The male Long-tailed Duck.
A small group of murres.
This male King Eider is just starting its annual moult.
A resting female King Eider.
I could not ignore the spectacular scenery of Resurrection Bay.
This is the scene just off shore from the Sea Life Center. More to come from Seward.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Checking Out Seward

Although I have been to Seward many times, most of my visits have been during the Winter. Things are a little different during the Summer. There is a lot more people and less ice.
First we headed to the harbor where we had lunch at a dockside restaurant.
In the photo above we saw a distant Sea Otter. Can you see it? More on that later.
First Bart had to check out a friend's boat. Bart has a 25ft sailboat, but his friend Greg has a 71ft boat and plans to live on it with his family. I wonder what his wife thinks of the idea?
Then we went after the Sea Otter while the women went shopping. 
It obviously was used to boats and people since it paid no attention to either.
I could not let the opportunity to photograph it pass.
Bart took some of these photos but I do not remember which were his photos and which were mine.
Anyway the otter was playing, Peek-A -Boo.
I see you.
It was a fun subject to photograph.
One parting shot.
From there we continued being tourists and checked out the Sea Life Center.
Kids especially enjoy seeing and interacting with the sea creatures. These last two photos are Bart's photos.
I took the opportunity to get photos of the local fish.
I could not get sharp images in the low indoor light.
Tropical fish tend to be more colorful than cold water fish.
This fish at least had colorful fins.
 There is more to come from Seward.