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Archive for November, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!


Can’t see the trees


Sometimes, well often times, we get so focused on something we don’t see everything in the picture.  While we were photographing the European Starlings and the Bohemian Waxwings we didn’t notice the tree they were in.  The color of that paper birch was just glowing.  It had an intensely copper look to it that was unimaginable.  Very beautiful.

Hello Starling


European Starlings were on show also.  The trees were hanging thick with berries and with the howling wind and cold temps of the week leading up they were out making up for lost feeding time.

Must be Winter


Well it must be winter finally.  The temps plummeted last weekend to a crisp -18 degrees.  Lovely.  And I mean that.  There is hardly a better day to be had than a crisp cold day with the sun out.  When it gets to the double digit negative you know that the frost crystal are coming soon!  That’s when winter gets magical.  Oh yeah, since the weather was so very Alaska like (finally) the Bohemians were out for some berries.   Love those birds.

And then there was one…


This big boy finally got up and stretched a bit and looked around.  He spied the young bulls, but hey they had been here since before I showed up, so no big deal right.  Well he laid into this one just for good measure and a little warm up I guess.  He eyed him up and that young bull kept a very wide berth.  You can see from the head gear that this guy is pleading “no contest”.  By the way those alders will stop a man in his tracks, that bull went through there as if they were grass stalks and he didn’t even “have his grump on”.  Good times.  Then he looked my way…. Checking my head gear, I decide to defer to the old man too and move to an appropriate place with a good escape route.  He was cordial enough as long as I stayed a respectable distance.  The big bull and his three cows grazed for a while then he decided it was time to pick up and move and through the alders they went.  I enjoyed my time with them.



The next thing I see is this female moose laying quietly in the tall grass.  Looking around I spy 3 more females, another spike, and a huge bull.  So I decide to work my way into them (I got a 2 on my SATs).  I moved across the open area and up on a hill about 75 feet from the female and set up the camera.  The big bull was looking down hill so at this point all I can get from him is the back of his head.  This female decides that she wants to do some grazing and she gets up right in front of me.  Okay, that’s good, she is working slowly in my general direction but nothing to worry about.  When she gets about 25 feet away from me I decide to move where I think she is not going.  I am wrong.  She looks up and starts walking directly for me.  I wave at her and she stops dead and her ears poke straight up.  Incredible, she did not even know I was there.  So now I can sense she is on full alert, and she decides to check me out.  She walks right up to me.  Now, people get killed by moose up here.  There are more deaths from them than from grizzly bears by a large margin.  Also, moose have been known to kill a grizzly bear.  They are very powerful and basically they can kick you to death, and the Alaska moose is notorious for a grumpy disposition.  All of this makes me nervous at this point.  So then she snorts right at me and she is so close I can feel it.  Look away, look away…that’s all I can think.  She stares holes in me and I just glance at her and smile a little a bit and think “I must to go to my happy place, I must go to my happy place” because things are going to get real ugly if I send out bad vibes.  All this time I am praying, and I mean praying hard, that that bull does not hear what is going on, because if he does….I am toast.  Messing with a bull moose in his rut is unwise, messing with his harem is dangerous.  Finally she decides I am nothing to worry about and drops her head and starts feeding right there.  Me?  ummm, I’m moving…



I spent the better part of Saturday with a whole lot of moose.  I headed up a trail I had not been on before but I had heard good things about.  It was supposed to have moose, almost guaranteed.  Well, with wildlife, as with a lot of other things in life, there is no guarantee and they often are not aware of what we expect of them so they are often not located in the perfect light at the right time of day or sometimes even to be found at all.  What’s up with that?  Well, I headed up the trail looking toward the mountains and off to the left when I caught something out of the corner of my eye to my right.  Yep, two moose within about 50 feet of me, a momma and a calf to boot.  Not good times I am thinking.  Well she gave me the eye and I talked real nice and sauntered more to my left to indicate that I was moving away not toward her calf.  She spied me for about a minute or so then both went back to munching.  Very nice.  I headed up the trail and finally got a glimpse of the area and yes, there were a lot of moose in there.  I was looking down on them and I counted 11 or 12.  This was going to be fun.  A little more fun than I expected too.  Although my first moose of the day were close, the upcoming encounter would have me feeling the blast of a moose snort and scrambling to get out from between a huge bull in rut and his girlfriend and this guy was going to get the nasty end of that huge bulls afternoon nap.   mtc.