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Posts Tagged ‘Alaska’

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.

Ice Sculptures in Town Park

The town park, downtown Anchorage has several ice sculptures on display currently.  There is a nice path shoveled among them for your viewing pleasure.  I enjoyed the walk but can attest that the rink area, although not roped off, is way to slick for walking.  I have on my schedule a trip up to Fairbanks for this years Ice sculpting competition and I wanted to get a feel for the challenges of making photographs of them.  Big One: backgrounds.  very hard to make a photograph of the sculpture without some serious background intrusions.  It is going to be difficult.  Next is the light.  Which of course gets compounded by trying to change angles to avoid backgrounds.  Next is depth or shape.  If you don’t get the light it merges flat.  Interesting problems.

Pioneer Peak and Valley Farm

It truly is a winter wonderland here in Alaska more so than anywhere I have ever been.  The snow sparkles in the low light, the ice fog plants crystals everywhere, the arctic temperatures give the air a real crisp snap to it.  On a mid afternoon with no wind the silence is golden and views are incredible.

Grain Silo

We were out and about in Palmer chasing Bohemian Waxwings and came across this old silo.  I liked the lines and the cool colors.  Palmer started out as a farming community and still has those roots deep.  During the dust bowl days the government gave away land to farmers who agreed to relocate to Alaska for at least 5 years.  Most went back.  It was not so much the cold winters and short summers as the annual (at the time) flooding of the valley.  Every year an ice dam would break and flood the Matanuska Valley.  This of course was great for enriching the soil, not so great for your house and other property.  Plus of course it was ice water, very miserable stuff to be in quite frankly.  The valley is not prone to flooding now like it used to be and there are quite a few farms still here.  Sometimes you just have to stick it out.  I hope you have a great year in 201o after sticking out the last one; here’s to you.

Fence Row


Well it is getting to be the season for snowscapes.  We have had some marvelous snow over the last week and a half and we are finally getting some good accumulation.  The avalanche danger is through the roof right now so be very wary out there.  Always remember the 24 hour rule.  This scene caught my eye earlier today.

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.

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.

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.

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.



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.

New Book From Alaska


If you have the Alaska bug there is a new book out that you will want to check out.  It is getting great reviews and I have it on my short list on Amazon.  Now that the summer is over and some work is actually done (but never all done) I will be digging into this.  I pretty much consume anything about the Brooks Range I can snap up.  Check it out.

While I was waiting….


There is an unusual happenstance of note in that a Great Blue Heron has decided to grace the Great State with it’s presence.  I was at Potters Marsh waiting for the our beautiful friend to wake and while he slept and I waited, this muskrat was very busy scooting around the pond.  He would shoot by the GBH and the heron would lift his head for a moment and then go back to sleep, the muskrat would then chase the incoming ducks away too.  He seemed to think he owned the joint.  I didn’t argue, I just shot him.

Tundra Sunrise


I was up for sunrise in Deadhorse last week.  That’s not too hard, it’s coming up around 8:00 am or so now.  The days are getting much shorter.  Hey is that snow? Umm, yep.  It’s winter up here.  Wasn’t too cold though, high 20s right now.  The arctic foxes are in whiteout and I thought the vast majority of birds had left.  Caught some scoters in the slush though, they looked like they were having fun.  The Arctic ocean is freezing up quickly.

The Light?


Ummmmm, did I mention the Light?  Yeah, the light was good…

Did I mention the colors?


By the way, did I mention that the fall colors are out?  Couldn’t remember…



Hello everyone, just got back from a whirlwind fall colors tour up here in the Great Land.  Yes, we start early up here, for all you southerners, but we get it good too.  We definitely hit the peak on our trip as we headed back across the Denali Highway, down the Richardson, south to Valdez, and back across the Glenn Highway to home.  Wow.  It was incredible.  Tons and tons of images to sort through, tons of film to develop (MF and LF) and I finally “saw” what I need to do on Sheep Mountain.  That has been working on me for some time.  I still have a lot of work to do before closing out this season but it should be fun…

Morning On The Flats


I headed out this morning to the Palmer hay flats to see what I could get in the lens by way of our migratory bird population.  I was up early and set up and got to see a magnificent sunrise with the mist hanging off the valley.  Birding itself was slow, I could hear the Sandhill Cranes whooping it up just out of sight in the high thrushes and I kept waiting for a lift off.  They like to warm up in the sun first.  They never did though, I guess they were happy to be where they were.  That’s a good thing.

Ice Field


We were coming back from Wrangell-St. Elias on the Glenn Highway and the ice field was actually visible from the highway very clearly.  This is pretty unusual and so we had to stop and get some photographs.  The scale in Alaska is so enormous that one loses perspective and frequently underestimates size and distances without a reference.  Looking at this photo it is hard to grasp how expansive this view is.  Come on up and see for your self.

The King Eider


Somateria spectabilis, The King Eider is a large, ornately plumaged duck that spends the predominate portion of its life in the very far north.  Its breeding grounds in the Americas are in the Arctic and the North West Territories and it winters mostly no farther south than the Aleutian Islands.  In addition it spends the predominate portion of its life out on the remote northern waters and therefore is not easily observable.

The King Eider population migrates very early, sometimes to their own detriment, flying across the tundra in flocks reported at up to 113,000 in one half hour period.  Now these birds fly at about 60 km/hr at less than 100 meters off the ground.  Imagine yourself on the Arctic tundra with over one hundred thousand birds, flying less than three hundred feet over your head, at forty miles an hour.  Wow.  And these migrations can fill the sky for hours, ten hours in the case of this particular report.

McLaren Summit


McLaren Summit at 4086 feet is not the highest mountain pass I have ever driven up (short by almost 10 thousand feet) but the view, well it speaks for itself.  Only Atigan Pass in Alaska is higher.  The valley below McLaren is absolutely beautiful, the lazy Susitna River in the evening light makes a slivery highway running towards the distant Alaska Range peaks. The rain was out on this late evening, but really, it it only served up the drama instead of damping the mood.

Mr. Porky


We were cruising down the Denali Highway and came around a corner and this guy was in a fire ring rooting around for leftovers.  They are quite endearing actually and you really want to get out and pet them.  That would be disastrous of course.  They don’t move very fast and they tend to have great facial expressions so they are fun.  They pretty much know that they can hurt you far more than you can hurt them (unless you have a gun.  See last years Alaska Experiment.)  We gave the old boy some room and he waddled on past in no particular hurry.  I think no particular hurry is a good way to waddle.