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January 25, 2015

Palin for President? Oh please, oh please, oh please…

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Like a bear being wakened from a long winter’s nap, so have I been roused from another project to return to these pages. Was it the warm southern breezes and the promise of a new spring that brought me out of my cave and into the sunlight? No, it was not. It was more like the sound of screeching aluminum right before it succumbs to metal fatigue… kind of a high-pitched squeal that hits you right where the base of the skull connects with the spine. I refer, of course, to Sarah Palin making an announcement. According to The Washington…

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Bird of the Week – Wandering Tattler

Wandering Tattler, St. Paul Island, Pribilof Islands, Alaska

For many years, this was WC’s nemesis bird, a bird he might see in the distance but had been purely unable to photograph. On St. Paul Island, WC finally found a reasonably cooperative Tattler. A fairly uncommon shorebird, it breeds inland along gravel stream banks, but spends most of the year on the mudflats and rocky shores of the Pacific Coast, wintering all the way down to Baja California. It has a wonderful flight song, a ringing, whistled deedle deedle deedle dee. Camera geek stuff: f4, 1/6400, ISO 1000 For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.  

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Bird of the Week – Northern Fulmar

Pale Morph Northern Fulmar, St. Paul Island, Pribilof Islands

The Northern Fulmar is a member of the family Procellaridae, the tubenoses. The tube-like structure on top of the bill allows the Northern Fulmar to excrete salt, making it independent of any need for fresh water. It some ashore only to lay eggs and raise its young. While it has a superficial resemblance to a gull, they are only distant relatives. This pretty lady was on a single egg. The pale morph, in WC’s limited experience, is less common than the dark morph in Alaska waters. Camera geek stuff: f11, 1/1600, ISO 100 For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

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The Weekend Off – News You Missed

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Alaska ADN.COM – With more Alaska women incarcerated than ever, some moved to men’s jail The number of women incarcerated in Alaska is at an all-time high, with the sole women’s prison in the state overcrowded enough that the Department of Corrections is now housing female inmates at Anchorage’s jail for men. DailyMiner.com – Seven bills and resolutions so far head to Juneau from Interior Interior lawmakers had their names on seven of the 63 bills or resolutions pre-filed in the run up to the start of the 29th Alaska Legislature. Many of the Interior delegation bills included retreads of legislation or…

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Bird of the Week – Thick-billed Murre

Thick-billed Murre, St. Paul Island, Pribilof Islands

The close cousin of last week’s Common Murre, the Thick-billed Murre is slightly larger, slightly darker and has the distinctive whitish “gape” at the back of the bill. The Thick-billed Murre is believed to spend most of the year further offshore, in deeper water, than the Common Murre. It’s a challenge to tell the two species apart in the field. Here’s a comparatively rare shot of the two species, side-by-side. All of this is probably more about Alcids than most Mudpuppies ever wanted to know. It’s a peril of hanging around birders. But we’ll set Alcidae aside for a while…

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Bird of the Week – Common Murre

Common Murres, St. Paul Island, Pribilof Islands

But wait, there are more Alcids! Certainly including the very Common Murre. WC has received criticism that he only posts photos of single birds. Well, duh! But for variety, at least, here a group shot of half a dozen of Alaska’s most common Alcid, the Common Murre. A Common Murre colony is a very noisy, crowded place, with many of their long, moaning “Ooooaaarrr” calls. When alarmed by a predator, or an encroaching, careless birder, they stream off their cliff colony is a silent waterfall of black and white birds, calling only as they level out of the ocean waves….

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The Weekend Off – News You Missed

The Weekend Off News You Missed

Alaska Fairbanks Newsminer – Alaska governor issues order to halt 6 megaprojects Alaska Gov. Bill Walker has ordered a halt to all non-obligated state spending on six major projects: Ambler Road, Juneau Access Road, Susitna-Watana Dam, Kodiak Launch Complex, Knik Arm Crossing and Alaska Stand-Alone Pipeline Project. ADN – Video: Anchorage chef strives to be an example for the disenfranchised Aaron Dollison, 49, grew up in Anchorage and learned to cook from his mother. He went on to cook at Susitna Foods & Spirits and Denny’s, but he learned how to cook in bulk in prison. Juneau Empire – Hunters find…

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Bird of the Week – Hoary Redpoll

Hoary Redpoll, Chevak, Alaska

Around the holidays, WC likes to post a bird that is at least kind of Christmasy. The challenge is that Alaska just doesn’t have that many Christmasy birds, and WC is starting to have to reach a bit. Here’s a Hoary Redpoll. A paler version of its more ubiquitous Common Redpoll cousin, the Hoary seems to prefer more northerly habitat. On a day when WC might have 100 Common Redpolls at this feeders, there might be just one or two Hoarys. There’s some excitement about Hoary Redpolls in ornithological circles; bird researchers haven’t figured out their taxonomy. For WC, it’s…

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Alaska to NY in About 10 Minutes with a GoPro

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Earlier this year, during the infamous ‘Polar Vortex,’ I decided it would be a completely reasonable idea to drive the Alaska Highway. Starting in Alaska I drove to Dawson Creek, British Columbia (the end of the Alaska Highway), and then on through Canada and the Midwest to Upstate New York. It took me about 10 days. Thanks to a GoPro attached to the windshield of my car now you can watch the trip in a little over 10 minutes. I’ll be posting some photos from the trip over the next couple of days throughout The Mudflats end of the year…

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Bird of the Week – Parakeet Auklet

Parakeet Auklets, St. Paul Island, Pribilof Islands

Yes, there are a lot of Alcids. Here’s another one, the Parakeet Auklet. The white line behind the eye is a plume, a very long, narrow white feather, that appears in breeding season. Like most birds, the shape of the bill tells you a lot about the species’ preferred food. The Parakeet’s bill is adapted to gelatinous prey like small jelly fish. Mated pairs have a charming, bill-tapping routine when they greet each other. Camera geek stuff: f16, 1/250 ISO1000 For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

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