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April 17, 2021

Headlines:

Dumpster Fires & Middle School Spats -

Friday, April 16, 2021

Misfire and $$ Down the Toilet -

Friday, April 9, 2021

‘Where do they find these people?’ -

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

  • Dumpster Fires & Middle School Spats

    WAR OF THE MIDDLE SCHOOLERS   The Middle-School-style social media spat between anti-masker Sen. Lora Reinbold and the Governor’s office (in which they are both losing and that’s fine with us) has claimed a new victim. Former sycophantic right-wing radio hack, Dave Stieren, who is now making six figures working for the governor’s ham-fisted communications team has received a smack-down. Sen. Reinbold made a post on her official page complaining about the fact that she’d been fined $250 for taking her mask off during a meeting, and that therefore she was a victim of the “mask tyranny” being “pushed” by…

  • Misfire and $$ Down the Toilet

    SHOW ME THE MONEY It’s budget time in Juneau, and we’re looking at a strange set of circumstances that is complicating the process. Weirdly, it’s a giant influx of cash! You were not expecting that, were you? Joe Biden’s amazing American Rescue Plan means Alaska will receive about $1.1 billion, plus hundreds of millions more for education from K-UA, tribes and local governments, and infrastructure projects. You’ll recall Sen. Murkowski, Sen. Sullivan, and Rep. Young all voted against this bill. Guess they are not interested in bringing home the bacon anymore. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Now, the Alaska House and Senate must determine how to legally invest the money for the greater good of all Alaskans. Thankfully, there…

  • ‘Where do they find these people?’

    TODAY IS THE DAY! If you’re in the Anchorage Municipality, don’t say we didn’t tell you this one is important! You get to decide whether Anchorage has a responsible, decent mayor or a homophobic Alaska Family Council homeless-hating right winger. (yikes!) You also get to decide whether you get thoughtful, intelligent school board members, or ones who joke about corporal punishment and obsess about racism not existing on their social media posts. And if you’re in Midtown you get to pick between keeping Felix Rivera, a caring hard-working Assembly Chair, or letting a bunch of Q-azy, anti-masking, storm-the-Assembly-chambers wackos turn out to vote…

  • Bonfire of the Insanities

    “IT’S UNBELIEVABLE” This is perhaps the best way to sum up the confirmation hearing for Alaska’s third Attorney General under Gov. Mike Dunleavy held in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week – a post from the Chair herself. Reinbold, unsurprisingly, spent the bulk of the time complaining about having to follow rules, “drilling down” on the nominee’s opinion on separation of powers, the executive branch overreaching on civil liberties, and the governor’s mandates on “cloth face coverings” in government buildings. “As you know in the building we have negative tests but we still have to wear these,” she said. And…

  • Shenanigans & Malarkey

    No, it’s not a sketchy Irish law firm – it’s this week in the Alaska State Legislature. THE BUDGET LOOMS It’s that time in the legislative session, when all the budget subcommittees that take on little bite-sized pieces of the big budget and make recommendations, are starting to wind down. Soon all those little pieces will reconnect and we’ll be on to the next phase. But for right now, part of the draft budget includes a controversial line item we’ve been keeping our eye on.  Remember a few weeks ago when there was a hearing about the Dunleavy administration’s move…

Headlines

Red-stained Woodpecker, Ecuadorian Amzon

Return of Bird of the Week: Red-stained Woodpecker

Jan 2, 2021

WC will start 2021’s Bird of the Week with a spectacular bird: the Red-stained Woodpecker. The male, in particular, is beautiful bird, with a golden-brown back, a heavily barred chest, a red head and the signature red-staining on primary and secondary feathers in the wings. The female lacks the red staining and red head, and is amazingly cryptic and hard to find. This is a bird of the middle and upper zones of mature trees in the Amazonian basin. It’s uncommon in lower parts of the jungle forest. The first two photos were taken from a tower 120 feet up…

Male Downy Woodpecker, McCall, Idaho

Return of Bird of the Week: Downy Woodpecker

Dec 26, 2020

Common, very widely distributed and tolerant of humankind, the Downy Woodpecker is easily attracted to a suet feeder. Its range extends across North America, from the Seward Peninsula in Alaska to southern Florida, and from southern California to Labrador. A smaller version of the Hairy Woodpecker, it’s interesting because the male and female generally forage on different parts of a tree or shrub. The male usually probe smaller branches; the female on larger branches and the trunk. There are seven subspecies. The female above is medianus, found across the boreal forest; the male is leucurus, fond in the Rocy Mountains…

Hairy Woodpecker, Fairbanks, Alaska

Return of Bird of the Week: Hairy Woodpecker

Dec 19, 2020

The Hairy Woodpecker is one of the most widely distributed and most highly variable bird species in North America. Found from the south slopes of the Brooks Range in northern Alaska to the mountains of Panama, it’s familiar to anyone who has hung up a suet feeder. But in the woods, it’s fairly rare to see a Hairy Woodpecker. For a big bird, that drums frequently, it can be hard to find. They aren’t “hairy,” of course. The name comes from the long, thread-like feathers in the whitish areas on their backs. Those feathers are difficult to see in the…

Females Black-backed Woodpecker, Alaska

Return of Bird of the Week: Black-backed Woodpecker

Dec 5, 2020

Ornithologists called the Black-backed Woodpecker “enigmatic” and the term is apt. It’s a bit of a specialist, inhabiting by preference damaged forests. Historically, in Alaska it was found reliably in recent forest fire burns, but with the increased numbers and extent of wildfires, it seems to be more dispersed now. It also prefers forests invaded by various tree-eating/wood-boring beetles, yet has not extended its Alaska range into southern Alaska in response to the massive invasion of bark beetles there. This is primarily a boreal forest species, ranging across the forests of central Alaska and Canada, but is also found in…

Pileated Woodpecker, McCall, Idaho

Return of Bird of the Week: Pileated Woodpecker

Nov 28, 2020

We have exhausted WC’s even marginally decent photos of Cracids – the Chachalacas, Curassows and Guans. So we’ll shift to woodpeckers, the Piciformes, and start with North America’s largest surviving woodpecker, the Pileated. In the late 1990s, WC was flyfishing for steelhead trout along the Situk River, in southeastern Alaska, near Yakutat. One early foggy spring morning, WC and a buddy set out across the water meadows east of the river, aiming upstream to get away from the crowd. From a stand of deciduous trees not far from the Forest Service road, WC heard a sound like a hatchet striking…

The Big Breakdown – Alaska Elections 2020

Nov 21, 2020

THE BIG BREAKDOWN It took two weeks, but at last we have the final numbers in Alaska’s 2020 election! We can officially say that in 2020, Alaska had more voters turn out than in any other election ever. That’s something! It’s also worthy of note that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won in Anchorage, and performed better statewide than any presidential ticket since Lyndon Johnson! That means Democrats were motivated, showed up, and are a larger force in the state than ever before. The final was 42.8 Biden/Harris to 52.8 Trump/Pence. The state we match most closely with is Iowa,…

Rufous-vented Chachalaca, Tobago Island, Trinidad and Tobago

Return of Bird of the Week: Rufous-vented Chachalaca

Nov 21, 2020

Last week we looked at the Rufous-headed Chachalaca. This week we go to the other end of the bird for the critical field mark. Mrs. WC thinks it’s unseemly to name a bird after its naughty bits, but there it is. These photos are more than fourteen years old, taken with an Olympus E-1, Olympus’s first Four-Thirds Digital Single Lens Reflex camera. It was state of the art at the itme, but the lamest, cheapest smart phone camera takes much better photos today. These photos, taken at f5 (wide open), 1/200 and ISO800 with a 50-200mm zoom and a 1.4…

Rufous-headed Chachalaca

Return of Bird of the Week: Rufous-headed Chachalaca

Nov 14, 2020

In WC’s experience, at least, this is the flightiest, the most easily spooked of the Cracids that WC has seen. You can see some motion blur in the head in this photo; even at ISO1600, the fastest WC’s Olympus E-3 could shoot without very serious grain, the shutter speed was only 1/200th of a second at f7.1. The bird’s head came up, it turned away and ran down the branch, disappearing in a tangle of liana vines. There were five birds in the tree; this is the best photo. Sigh. You woudn’t know it from this photo, but this is…