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Redheads enjoying a break from the rain

The summit lake on the road over Hatcher Pass has some great birds sometimes.  Last week produced a pair of surf scoters and this week I located two redheads.  I enjoyed a respite from the rain with these guys.

The King

King Eider North Slope Alaska

King Eider in arctic pond

I got up to the north slope last week and the King Eiders were in!  Wow, they seemed to be everywhere.  This one was gleaming in the sun.  Now if you have ever been in the arctic you would know how unusual this is.  If not then let me explain.  There are 3 types of weather in the arctic; cold, windy, foggy.  Usually you get all three however every now then you get only 2 out of three.  Very rarely you get one out of three and notice that sunny did not make the list so this is a fairly rare situation.  I thoroughly enjoyed photographing these stunning birds.  They are very skittish around people as they are sea ducks that do not interact with people but during mating season they can be approachable.  Always pick the ones that are following a female around if you want to get with in any kind of range.  If you want flight photographs pick the lone drakes, they will fly.

Great Gray Owl Fledged

Great Gray owl chick after fledging

Great Gray Owl Chick Fledged on tree

The great gray owl chick fledged and I had the privilege of showing up a few minutes after the event and then spending the better part of two days with him/her.  What a great time that was.  The chick seemed pretty confident and not really fearful.  He definitely wanted to climb things and get on top of snags and stumps.  His feathers were not developed enough to get any air really but he hopped along well.  Moma owl kept a keen eye on her chick and was very tolerant of our presence.  These birds have a reputation of being very tame and that was very conducive to getting our photographs.  The adults would come in and feed the chick without any hesitation regarding us watching the whole thing.  It was a powerful experience to share that with these guys.  Eventually the little guy made it up the hill and he started to move too fast throughout the day to locate him.  Here’s to hoping he has a great life!

Great Gray Owls Feeding Chick

Great Gray Owl on nest with chick

Great Gray Owl with week old chick

Well the DSLR video capabilities finally proved itself of value. I was looking for but not necessarily seeing it.  We were out making photographs of a Great Gray Owl pair on the nest with chick and we had been working this project all morning. It was getting late in the morning and the light was definitely getting harsh so it was just about wrap up time when the female started hooting up a storm on the nest. We had not yet seen the male that day but I had feeling and so did Dee.  We knew something was up and I got on point with my rig and Dee instinctively hit the RECORD button on her camera.  The resulting video is awesome.  The male flies in and hands off a vole and then turns around and flies out and then the female serves up the meal to the little chick. The chick was only a week old at the time but you can see him going right at it. He was definitely hungry. All I can say is Wow, what an experience.  This one is really special though because I got to see it, I get to keep seeing it, and now I get to share the experience in motion with you.  Times…. they are a chang’n.  Enjoy and thanks for watching Fall River Photography TV :-).

as promised….

Another as I mentioned yesterday.



Ah yes, the Horned Grebe.  The birding forum had reported one siting and then gone quiet.  I wasn’t sure if they had moved on but I was hoping I could find them.  Once again I was helped by another photographer/birder, a big thank you out to that gentlemen.  I must have walked past them as I worked my way down the water because I got to the end and nothing was to be found.  I started scanning back up the way I came and sure enough they were at the other end, I got to hike all the way back.  As I was getting into position they joined in their ritual and both were in full display.  They were quite accommodating eventually.  I will post a couple more.

Green Winged Teal

I was fortunate to spend some time with a few Green Winged Teals on the water the other day.  There were 6 or so sleeping on logs around logs and the males were chasing girls.  This one just woke up.

American Wigeon

The weather has been cool but very lovely as of late.  The birds seem to enjoy all the variations except maybe the really windy conditions.  Spenard Crossing is serving up some very nice bird opportunities.  This American Wigeon was pretty cooperative and I enjoyed working with him for a short period of time.

Glossy Ibis

We were in Colorado last week and the weather was colder than what we left behind here.  A lot of the water was still iced over and it snowed 3 or 4 times while we were there.  I was looking forward to coming back to warmth.  The cooler weather was somewhat unusual for Colorado at this time of year, normally Denver is well into spring.  We also headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park for a day but that was somewhat disappointing.  They are rebuilding the entrance and resurfacing at least part of Trail Ridge road and with all of the construction and heavy equipment and people there was not even a squirrel to be found.  The forest itself is really in bad shape with the pine beetle infestation.  Of course it is not like it snuck up on them, it is cyclical and it started about 18-20 years ago.  Looks like they are going to be cutting down A LOT of trees.  If they don’t the whole place will be a tinder box.  A bad predicament.

Eventually we stumbled upon some birds and located this nice pair of Glossy Ibis’s.  Very beautiful bird when the sun hits those feathers…

Its May in Alaska….that means birds

May means birds.  Its that simple.  Up here in Alaska as the winter snows slowly rescind the birds move in to fill void.  The Homer bird festival is the 5/6-5/9 and the Festival in Cordova is this week also.  That is a bit unusual as they typically follow one another.  Break out the binos, put on the T-shirts and get out there.

They’re here….

A pair of American Wigeons and a female Goldeneye came cruising by.

Up the creek…

The birds are definitely in.  The water is opening up very quickly now.  The birding reports from Seward indicate that they are backing up there as they layover before heading here and further north.  I was waiting on an American Wigeon and these Mew Gulls caught my attention.  I think she likes him.

Kung Foo Fighting

The swans were gett’n lively on the pond.  The fighting ritual is very intriguing to observe.  There are elaborate dances and then an attack on what seems to be a rather unsuspecting individual (I don’t think he got the memo that he was involved) , followed by a victory celebration followed by another attack as shown above.  These are a few outtakes from a rather long sequence.

Trumpeter Swan

I have been spending a lot of time with these guys over on Spring Creek.  There are about 12 – 18 of them at a time depending.  At first the musk rat trapper was blowing them out when he came through, which unfortunately was just about the time that the sun made it over Mat Peak.  Well in Alaska the light moves fast and sunrise over the peak has moved up enough that I get in and out before the trapper shows up.

Three Trumpeter Swans

It keeps thawing and the swans keep coming.  I really enjoy photographing swans, they are so beautiful and graceful and here in Alaska we are fortunate to have a lot of them.  Of course the Big A K is home to a lot of migrate breeding birds which makes it just too much fun.

Things Are Heating Up….

Water is opening up a little more but overall locations are still limited.

Next up…The new Upland Game Bird Sanctuary here in the Matsu Valley.

Things Are Heating Up….

Seems early for swans but they might have come up from over wintering at Coopers Landing.

Things Are Heating Up….

And a few more for your enjoyment…

Mergansers and Mallards taking over the creek.

There’s a moose and an eagle that might have something to say about that though.

Things Are Heating Up….

Well March is here and here come the birds…

February was kind of an odd month.  The temps jumped way up to 45-48 degrees and then March rolled in and it started to get cold, windy and snowy again.  Well, in like a lion out like a lamb.

Bohemian Waxwings

We chased the Waxwings around Palmer a short while ago and they posed up for us in some Mountain Ash trees.  They are pretty easy to find if you just park and watch the sky for the swarm.  The other great thing about these birds is they always graciously serve up their classic berry pose.  They are certainly beautiful and fun to be with.

Great Gray Owl

What a GREAT Christmas gift we got this year.  On Christmas Eve day I was out and about and a little voice in my head told me to go down this road near our house.  As I was approaching a curve the truck in front of me scared up a large bird and immediately I thought OWL!  I also immediately hoped it was a gray owl as I have not yet seen one.  So I carefully turned around and slowly headed back to the tree and there he was, a Great Gray Owl.  What a magnificent bird, just stunningly beautiful.  I reached over carefully for the camera, not taking my eyes off of him, and grabbed…nothing.  No camera.  Arrgg.  Always Carry a Camera.  So I watched him for a couple of minutes and headed home.  The good news is that I knew where he was now and I expected to be able to find him again.  So Christmas Day we headed out for some owling.  We looked for him for a good hour or so and we were getting ready to leave when Dee spotted him.  We got to photograph and observe him for about ten or fifteen minutes.  Totally topped off my day and made it an absolutely great Christmas.  I hope you and yours had a great Christmas too!

Oyster Catcher


This is the time of the year for reflection.  For me that really means “I have a ton of images I haven’t even looked at and I have a ton of film to develop.”  So while I was waiting for some water to warm up the other day I found this image that I really like but just have not yet got to.  I love these Oyster Catchers, the contrast of colors on this beautiful bird is just so attractive I can’t stop looking at it.  I might have mentioned that we took a Fjords tour earlier this year and we really enjoyed it.  It was different atmosphere, totally bird oriented really, with a relatively low head count.  It really made for a great day on the water.  The sun was out in totally clear skies that day which made for some harsh photographic conditions but as a general rule the people and birds seemed to like it.

Nice Ducks


These mallards and a blue winged teal or two are hanging out in just about the only open water that is left around here.  It was pretty cold (~10 F) but that was a warm up from the -18 F last week.  I don’t know how long this open water will last, I don’t recall last year if it closed up or not but I think it did.  There is a bit more down by the old Mat-Su townsite that might be productive too.  We went down there last Sunday though and did not see a thing.  The birding forums were reporting that a GBH had been in that area but we did not find it.

Great Blue Heron


A great blue heron was out on Potter’ Marsh about a month back.  I caught him over the course of several days and enjoyed his antics immensely.  It amazes me how hard it can be to spot this bird even when it is right in front of you.  It is quite a hunter too.  It was capable of remaining perfectly still for very long periods of time but it would lock on to anything that moved in the water even when it was on roost.  This photograph was made after he caught a fish and moved onto this log.  He is pretty much in  a zone here and he was attacking little sticks with great enthusiasm.  What a fun bird to watch.