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Archive for April, 2009

Homer, Alaska


We just got back from several days in Homer.  The weather was very spring like so that brought some rain but also some very dramatic cloud formations.  You know what they say, “Bad weather makes for good photographs.”  The shore birds are showing up but the recent volcanic ash dump seems to have dampened the activity a bit.  There was quite a bit of it, Homer got about a 1/4″ of an inch of accumulation.  Didn’t eat here but I have plans…

Eagle Against Pioneer Peak


A couple of Sundays ago we headed out looking for our spring bird arrivals on some old stomping grounds around here in the valley and got some nice shots of a couple of eagles against Pioneer Mountain.  The Matanuska-Susitna Valley is famous for it’s views of Pioneer and although the weather was less than steller it was still a great day to be out and about.  Other than a couple of eagles though it has been pretty slim pick’ins lately, althought the warm weather should help coax them in as the water thaws.  We will be heading down to Homer shortly and that should help out with a bird fix.  The Homer bird scene is heating up and we are looking forward to that trip and can hardly wait to go.  The famous Homer Spit is a birding HotHouse toward the end of April early May.  Check out the links in the blog entry below if you are interested in the Homer Birding Festival.

Rail Car


I made several exposures of this a couple of weeks back, I liked them all but I am posting this one :-).

The Beautiful Mallard


Anas platyrhynchos

Ah yes, the beautiful Mallard.  I got to watch Don court this fair lady for a short time, she was a looker too.  There were about 30 or so more sitting on the ice about 100 feet away just doing nothing so these two snuck off to flirt.  (I was discreet.)

Interesting reading on the Mallard at the Cornell site. http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Mallard.html

Alaska Birding


The Alaska Birding Season is heating up.  There are several resources for you to take advantage of if you are so inclined; if you are coming in from out of state the websites are great places to start.

Anchorage Audubon Society – http://www.anchorageaudubon.org/

Mat-Su Birders – http://www.matsubirders.org/index.html

Birding in Homer – http://birdinghomeralaska.org/

Birding in Fairbanks – http://www.arcticaudubon.org/

Juneau Audubon Society – http://www.juneau-audubon-society.org/

The Alaska Website with info on birding http://www.alaska.com/activities/birds/

Those are all excellent resources to begin with.  Here is some information on the bird festivals in Alaska:

The Copper River Delta Shore Bird Festival that is held in Cordova


The Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival in Homer.


The Bald Eagle Festival in Haines


Sandhill Crane Festival in Fairbanks


Bird Festivals are a great way to get out and see Alaska and of course the wildlife.  There are cruises that cater specifically to these festivals and to birding in general in the Bay areas and in the course of bird watching you are very likely to see a great deal of the rest of the wildlife that is present in Alaska.

Arctic Wings


Another recommendation for you if you enjoy birds, birding, and are interested in finding out more about the ANWR.  The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is an extremely import migratory gathering point for well over 100 species of birds.  Area 1002 is the proposed drilling area and this area is located on the coastal plain, there would be a large impact (at the least) to caribou and nesting birds and shore birds if this were developed for oil drilling and production.  This is an area richly diverse and biologically expedient to many mammals and birds and the Arctic Ocean is of course, the anchor of the biology here and must be protected from oil spills.  ANWR is a magnificent place (haven’t been there myself yet) and I believe there are other options for acquiring the oil reserves there that are far less obtrusive and invasive.  The infrastructure required for oil drilling and production is sprawling and invasive and brings air pollution, noise pollution and light pollution to these wildness areas and it is first, avoidable and second disruptive to these important links in our ecosystem.   This is an important place to conserve and we can conserve it by being realistic about how we go about extracting the resources that are in the earth while respecting the importance of the resources that are on it; all of them.  “I would drill through a caribous’ head to get to the oil in ANWR” — Glenn Beck

Subhankar Banerjee has devoted the last 8 years exclusively to ANWR and increasing the awareness of it and working to protect it.  He put this book together.  Micho Hoshino’s photograph of a Snowy Owl graces the cover, some might remember him.  Debbie Miller is an essayist for the book and I have another recommendation forth coming on her work, I really enjoy her ability to communicate so vividly about such a place in such a personal way.

Spring Fever


Spring fever is here for me, my goodness.  Up here in the Great White North we are still buried under.  We are getting some great sun but it is not coming fast enough it seems.  Now I love the cold, and I love the snow but this year I am just ready to roll.  Last summer was very short due to some late snow storms, rain, clouds and the coldest summer on record up here.  All of that has me, and my northern brothers and sisters, chomping at the bit to get some warm weather “on”.  April is here and that means birds, lots of birds, and I am looking forward to that.  Unfortunately a considerable amount of snow is still covering major nesting areas and so we are all anxiously awaiting break up so these guys can get in here.  We will be heading down to Homer later on this month to catch the migration stop over that comes through there; if reports are accurate we are talking tens of thousands of birds at a minimum. This will be our first time to attend this and we are looking forward to it.  The stop over in the Copper River Delta is to the tune of millions of birds.  That is the one I want to hit next year, it just won’t work out for us this year.  They had a bird count of 1.25 million birds in one day last year.  We also have a massive Rapture migration that occurs through the area.  Gunsight Mountain is a major migratory corridor for this and there is a raptor watch from Feb to April with some days counts over one hundred.  If you want to participate check out the Anchorage Audubon website they are looking for volunteers.  There is a BBQ coming up too in April.

Anchorage Concert Association


Check out this link for a great write up on a really neat performance http://www.adn.com/life/arts/story/739809.html.  I did not make this concert and I was very skeptical about the advertising that I was hearing about this Ukulele player, it seemed really over top.  Well, if you read this review I guess it was actually understated; apparently this guy is all “that” and more, really a fantastic review and write up and frankly I am very sorry I missed it.  It sounds like I missed more of an experience than a concert.  If you hear of Jake Shimabukuro performing in your area I think you should really consider going, I wish I had, wow.

Where is he today?


We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are the shining parts, is the soul.  We in succession, in division, in parts, in particles.  Meantime within man is the soul of the whole;  the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal One.  And this deep power in which we exist, and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing, and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object are one. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

I love Ralph.  Is there anyone writing now like Ralph did?  That man had a direct line to God, his wisdom was other worldly and he understood the essence of every man.  Pick him up and see if you don’t agree.  He tells you what you know inside about yourself.