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February 6, 2016

Bird of the Week – Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal, Sunnyside Pond, Fairbanks

WC and Mrs. WC used to participate in a Birdathon for Arctic Audubon and the late Alaska Bird Observatory. It’s a fundraiser: birders get pledges for the number of species they will see in 24 hours, and then try to find as many species as they can. The more pledges and the more species, the greater the funds raised. One year, after 23.95 hours of non-stop birding, completely exhausted, we were standing at a very swampy pond in the Goldstream Valley, wondering how we would get another species. And, at the last possible minute, a Blue-winged Teal flew in. WC…

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The Comeback Kid: The Revolution Begins in Iowa


“9 months ago we came to this beautiful state, we had no money, no organization and were taking on the most powerful political organization in America.”  As I write this, Iowa is waiting for the last delegate numbers on the Democratic caucus to come in. Huckabee and O’Malley have closed up shop and gone home, suspending their campaigns. Fiorina didn’t even show up for her own party.  The Donald, is coming in second place with Rubio a close third – Cruz accepting his victory with a speech on killing Muslims. These are weird times to be alive and watching politics….

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The Weekend Off – News You Missed


  Alaska The Economist – Murre mystery – Thousands of seabirds are washing up dead on Alaska’s shores AT THE end of the highway, 200 miles from Anchorage, sits a small fishing and tourism town where, in early January, thousands of dead common murres, or guillemots, were washed ashore. These penguin-like seabirds littered the tidal wracks so densely that beach walkers had to be careful where they stepped. And beyond Homer, tens—probably hundreds—of thousands of these birds have drifted in dead along Alaska’s vast coastline or have been found far inland half-dead in the snow. Bloomberg – U.S. Bans Import of…

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Alaska’s Dirty Little Secret, and Why Bernie Can Win


To the disappointment of conspiracy nuts across the U.S. of A, President Barack Obama confirmed this week he won’t run for a third term. Even if he could, he said, his wife wouldn’t let him. And besides, why would he want to get treated like the substitute teacher for another four years? Oh, that’s right. The only people crazier than armed bird refuge squatters are those contending for the GOP nomination for president. I wonder what any one of the GOP candidates thinks about Alaska? Drill? Um, we tried that. The oil companies are going to keep our oil in…

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Bird of the Week – Spectacled Eider

Spectacled Eider, Yukon National Wildlife Refuge

A close cousin to last week’s King Eider, the Spectacled Eider is another of Alaska’s arctic sea ducks. The Spectacled Eider is classified as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. But WC suspects there was still poaching back in 2008 when this photo was taken. Getting this close involved a 90 minute stalk wiggling along on WC’s belly, and even then the bird was quite nervous. Birds that weren’t nervous likely wound up in a supper pot. Like a lot of ducks, after mating the drakes leave. But WC was able to find one small group still hanging around together….

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Open Thread: Lox Stocks Soar While Oil Tanks


Alaska is currently in a weird spot. Currently oil is going for less than salmon. I’m sure that these numbers aren’t 100% comparable for AK, but either way it’s a fantastic conversation starter.

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The Weekend Off – News You Missed


Alaska ADN – ADN poll: Alaskans like Trump, Sanders for president An Alaska Dispatch News poll found registered voters in the state have their eyes on two candidates that would have been considered unlikely front-runners just a year ago: real estate billionaire and reality TV star Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the self-proclaimed democratic socialist. The Guardian – The rise and fall of Sarah Palin: plucked away from Alaska, she lost her soul There was a time when Sarah Palin was normal by Alaska standards. Way back before the hoopla, and way before she endorsed Donald Trump, she…

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Bird of the Week – King Eider

King Eider Drake, Resurrection Bay, Alaska

A King Eider drake in breeding plumage is so outrageous looking, that it seems improbable. But, yeah, that’s really what they look like, easily the most colorful of North American waterfowl. This is a sea duck, that comes ashore to nest in tundra ponds along the Arctic coast of North America, including Alaska. The Latin name for this species is Somateria spectabilis. The genus name Somateria is a combination of the Greek words sōma or sōmatos, meaning “body”, and erion, meaning “wool”; the combination, “wooly body,” is a reference to the eider’s famously thick, soft down. The species name, spectabilis is Latin for “showy”, “remarkable” or “worth seeing”, a reference to the handsomeness of the adult…

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Half-Term Governor Palin Endorses Half-Wit Donald Trump


Palin endorsement looking to bring in voters with only half a brain. Palin, who MSNBC’s Chuck Todd referred to as, “the woman that used to be the biggest reality star in politics” is set later today to endorse the new biggest reality star in politics, The Donald. Palin, who has been relatively absent from the political scene so far this Presidential campaign season is en route to Iowa to join the Trump campaign around the state. Trump’s campaign released a press release ahead of the 6pm press conference in Iowa calling Palin an “influential conservative.” The Donald was quoted in…

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‘Bernie’ by Ted Rall – Review and Excerpt


[Check out the exclusive excerpt at the bottom of the post] Love Bernie. Hate Bernie. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. I’m violently non-partisan by profession and nature. But, I demand you read Ted Rall’s comic book biography of Bernie Sanders. It’s not some propaganda crap-ola to promote Sanders’ Presidential campaign. You don’t get a lot of stuff that makes you feel warm and fuzzy about the candidate. Rather, what you get is, “The Making of a Guy Pissed-off with the Way the System is Stacked Against the Average Joe.” Rall’s Sanders was not the intellectual child of…

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