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March 31, 2015

Bird of the Week – Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler, Spring Migration, Delta Barley Project

By far the most common warbler in the boreal forest, the Yellow-rumped Warbler, the “Butter-Butt,” prefers the canopy, the tops of trees. As a result, it’s probably the most common cause of “birder’s neck,” neck strain from looking straight overhead. The species winters in the southern United States and Central America. The Yellow-rumped Warbler has two different forms: the Audubon’s and the Myrtle. They were once thought be be separate species, but were “lumped” into a single species a little while back. Alaska sees the Myrtle Warbler form. Camera geek stuff: f8, 1/640, ISO6400. For more bird photos, please visit Frozen…

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Quiet, 26 Years After the Spill

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Several years ago Shannyn Moore, Jeanne Devon and I went out to Prince William Sound [read the post from Jeanne Devon] on an assignment from BBC World Service. We were sent for the odd request that could only come from a international news agency like the BBC… gather sound. They didn’t need video, or pictures, just sound. BBC had certainly been there before and had much in their catalogue to make it sound like their reporter was in Alaska – but they were looking for sound from right then. It was July 4th weekend so instead of BBQ and beer the…

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Coffey Tape Reveals Illegal Donations (AUDIO)

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The following is a press release from Michigan public radio reporter, and former Anchorage radio personality Aaron Selbig. The audio tape is the subject of this week’s Alaska Dispatch News, and Mudflats column by Shannyn Moore. Her commentary can be found HERE. *** The audiotape of former Anchorage Assembly members Dan Coffey and Bill Starr discussing illegal campaign contributions first aired February 26, 2008 on the Aaron Selbig Show on KUDO 1080AM. It was later replayed by KUDO hosts Camille Conte and Shannyn Moore. The tape came to Selbig after it was recorded on the home answering machine of former…

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Coffey Spilled the Beans Long Ago

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Anchorage mayoral candidate Dan Coffey has a problem — a big problem. I’m not sure if it’s a medical issue that has affected his memory of events over the last decade or so, or if it’s just way easier for him to pretend some of the things he’s done or said didn’t happen. Shall we climb into the not-so-way-back machine? Oh, it was an exciting time, and I was in the middle of it. We’re only going back to 2008 — for now. There was this wonderful character named Alan Tesche. He was an assemblyman and used to get on…

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Bird of the Week – Arctic Warbler

Arctic Warbler Male, Denali Highway

There’s been a request for bird songs and call as well as photos. WC is a photographer. But the among birders, Xeno-canto is the go-to site for bird songs. We’ll try an embedded bird call from Xeno-canto and see what the Boss thinks.  The Arctic Warbler, unlike the majority of warblers, is an Old World warbler. It’s also another incredible migrant, traveling to Alaska from Southeast Asia to breed in the alpine and sub-alpine hills of Alaska. After such an epic migration, you might expect the males to rest and feed up before staking out their territories. You’d be wrong. The…

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Bird of the Week – Blackpoll Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler, Denali Highway

This post is a little late. Sorry. Realy good concert last night. The Blackpoll Warbler breeds in the Boreal Forest south of the Brooks Range and across Canada. It’s a very cool bird for several reasons. First, its breeding and non-breeding plumages are so different that for many years it was thought to be two different species. Here’s a Blackpoll Warbler in breeding plumage along the Denali Highway. And here’s a bird in non-breeding plumage, photographed by Tom Johnson off the coast of Maine in early October. Next, there’s the bird’s song, which is among the highest pitched of any bird…

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Bird of the Week – Northwestern Crow

Northwestern Crow, Cordova, Alaska

There are four species of crow in North America, but only one breeds or commonly occurs in Alaska, the Northwestern Crow. Smaller than the American Crow, there’s a lot of disagreement among ornithologists about whether the Northwestern Crow may just be a subspecies of its American Crow cousin. For now, based on the size difference and their quite different calls, the American Ornithological Union thinks it is a different species. Camera geek stuff: f8, 1/250, ISO1000. The white drops are rain. For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

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Palin Outraged Clinton Pulled a Palin

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Sarah Palin, whom shame and decency dictate should be hiding out somewhere in the back of a dark deep cave with a bag over her head this week, is instead standing on the tippy top of Mt. Hypocrisy with a giant bullhorn yelling, “Look at me!” Should any of us be surprised? No. Was I still a little surprised? A little. Apparently the thought of raking Hillary Clinton (whom Palin thanked in 2008 for putting “16 million cracks in the glass ceiling”) over the political coals was just too tempting, just too enticing to put in check her own conscience, or…

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Bird of the Week – Black-billed Magpie

Black-billed Magpie, southwest of Delta Junction

WC is staying with corvids – birds of the crow family – a little longer, this time we’ll have a look at the Black-billed Magpie. A bird of myth and legend, like the Common Raven, the species is expanding its range, breeding in the Fairbanks area in recent years. The species readily habituates to people, in fact, when Lewis and Clark first encountered magpies in 1804 in South Dakota, these birds were bold, entering tents to steal meat and taking food from the hand. Magpies sometimes seem to WC to model themselves, showing off their flashy feathers for a photographer. How…

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The Economic Freedom to be Poor

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New kids at my high school were rare. Most of us had been together since what felt like the beginning of time — and that wasn’t always a good thing. Remember the time Eric barfed in the lunch room? Yeah. Remember when the elastic in Kim’s sweatpants surrendered during fourth-grade dodgeball? She froze like a statue. New kids were suspect curiosities. It took a while to figure out if they were going to be one of “us.” I remember one in particular. He complained constantly about how lame Homer was. He was in town to live with his relatives for…

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