My Twitter Feed

July 30, 2015

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    President Trump Wants Palin in Cabinet

    I’d like Sarah Palin to be in a cabinet too – preferably one that is soundproof. But, we don’t always get what we want. Loudmouth fake political celebrity, and bad hairpiece-wearing reality TV star Donald Trump is running for office. And he’d love to have loudmouth fake political celebrity, and bad hairpiece-wearing reality TV star Sarah Palin in his cabinet in the unlikely event he is elected President of the United States. When you think about it, it’s really amazing these two haven’t connected long before now. I mean, ok, there was that awkward first date where they both ate…

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    Bird of the Week – Spotted Sandpiper

    We’re back to the peeps, the sandpipers. It doesn’t take many weeks to see all of Alaska’s hummingbirds, after all. But there are lots and lots of shorebirds. The Spotted Sandpiper is fairly common in Alaska. The signature spots are only present during breeding season. But the Spottie also has a distinct, teetering or rocking behavior that makes it pretty easy to recognize in the field, even after it loses its spots. Spotted Sandpipers are among a small minority of birds that have reversed sex roles; i.e., females are more aggressive and active in courtship than males, and males take the…

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    Bird of the Week: Rufous Hummingbird

    We’ll take a break from the pesky shorebirds and take a moment to look at one of nature’s marvels. Just one of the 338 known hummingbird species breeds in Alaska, the Rufous Hummingbird. The Rufous Hummingbird is nothing less than astonishing. This tiny little 3.5 gram bird migrates thousands of kilometers, from the shores of Cook Inlet to northern Mexico. If you don’t find that amazing, your sense of wonder must be lost. The female builds the nest and in just a few days after arriving, lays and starts incubating eggs. Three weeks later, the kids are fledged and after building fat…

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    Jade Helm – What is Actually Happening in Texas

      There has been a lot of conspiracy talk about Jade Helm 15 as the military exercises get underway this week. Here’s what is actually happening, and why. So what is our military doing? The world situation is changing and the combat environment that our forces face will soon change from deserts, hills, and villages, to one where our troops will have to fight in a more urban and or metropolitan setting. So in response to this, our Special Operations Forces (who normally are one of the first into the fight) are familiarizing themselves with operating in these types of environments….

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    Mudflats Goes Militia in Talkeetna

    Friday 13:00, Tesoro Station Mini-Mart, Talkeetna, Alaska The Tesoro gas station mini-mart in Wasilla does not carry potatoes. As a matter of fact, they do not carry produce of any kind. I am supposed provide dinner tonight for my little corner of the militia encampment. Yes, I’m going back again this year to the Alaska Prepper/Survivalist/Militia Rendezvous, and instead of PB&J like last time, I’ve got steak, and asparagus – but I left the potatoes sitting on the counter at home. After a couple laps up and down the tiny aisles, I have to make a call. The closest thing…

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Rock Sandpipers, Homer Small Boat Harbor, Alaska

Bird of the Week: Rock Sandpiper

Jun 13, 2015

You’ve seen a lot of sparrows, the Little Brown Jobs or LBJs of birding, and they are admittedly hard to identify in the field. Now, let’s spend some time with birds that are even harder: sandpipers, the peeps of the birding world. Rock Sandpipers winter on the rocky shores and breakwaters of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. But they breed on the Bering Sea Coast, mostly on mudflats and intertidal zones, which kind of makes you scratch your head about the species common name. Most sandpipers are cryptic, quite hard to see in their environment. Rock Sandpipers are a champion…

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Alaska Lemming Caucus Over the Edge

Jun 7, 2015

This has been a difficult week for many Alaskans. So much uncertainty as 10,000 pink slips go to our friends and neighbors working for the state. Fairbanks Sen. Pete Kelly argues they aren’t pink slips, because there’s an “if” in them, as in “You’re not laid off if a handful of senators get their poop together.” Of course, we know there’s no chance Pete and his collaborators will get their poop together. Instead of pink slips, people online are calling them “Pete slips.” Our current legislative crisis is the handiwork of a small cabal of senators who refuse to compromise their misguided ideology. The…

Smith's Longspur, Denali Highway, Alaska

Bird of the Week – Smith’s Longspur

Jun 6, 2015

The bird species in Alaska that WC has probably worked hardest to photograph is the Smith’s Longspur. Uncommon, highly localized and skulky, WC has spent days and hiked miles to photograph these birds. It’s worth it, too. Besides everything else, the species is easily disturbed, so WC will be vague about where to find it. In addition to being difficult to find and photograph, Birds of North America notes another unusual characteristic: Smith’s Longspurs have one of the most unusual social breeding systems known among songbirds. Unlike the majority of birds that form socially monogamous relationships for breeding, Smith’s Longspurs are…

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Court Delivers Double-Whammy Over Pebble

May 30, 2015

Friday, the Alaska Supreme Court issued two decisions that will have far-reaching impacts about how the Department of Natural Resources conducts business in hard rock mineral exploration, and the ability of the State and others to chill opposition. While the two cases involved the Pebble Prospect exploration, neither will impact the development of that mine. Background In 1988, Teck Cominco drilled the first exploration wells in what would become the 360 square-mile Pebble Prospect. By 2010, ownership of the Pebble claims would change hands from Teck Cominco to Northern Dynasty Minerals to the Pebble Limited Partnership. Collectively, those entities would…

Lapland Longspur Male, breeding plumage, Eagle Summit, Steese Highway, Alaska

Bird of the Week – Lapland Longspur

May 30, 2015

The Lapland Longspur is an exceedingly common species of the alpine and coastal tundra in Alaska. During courtship, its call and incessant fluttering mating flight can drive a birder to distraction. But it is also an exceedingly handsome species, especially a male in breeding plumage. Longspurs take their name from the long back toe that’s characteristic of the genus. After egg laying, you see males far more often than females, as they skillfully lead you away from the nests. Not a sparrow, but a cousin to a sparrow. Camera geek stuff: f5.7, 1/250, ISO250. For more bird photos, please visit Frozen…

Dark-eyed Junco, Fairbanks, Alaska

Bird of the Week – Dark-eyed Junco

May 23, 2015

The Dark-eyed Junco is one of Alaska birders’ favorite species, because it is among the first spring migrants to arrive and the last to leave. There are half a dozen subspecies, but the Slate-colored shown here is the version found most commonly in Alaska. The black head and the pinkish bill make this another easy species to identify in the field. The call sounds amazingly like an old-style cell phone ringing, and WC has seen birders check their phones when they have heard the bird’s call. Very common, a habitué of feeders and, yes, another sparrow. But at least it…

Golden-crowned Sparrow, Cordova, Alaska

Bird of the Week – Golden-crowned Sparrow

May 16, 2015

One last sparrow, and WC has saved a handsome one for last. The Golden-crowned Sparrow is easily identified by the strong golden line on the crown of its head. The gold crown contrasts nicely with the otherwise black head. It also has easily recognized call, “oh-deary-me.” It’s a bit secretive, lurking in dense brush, but the males perch on shrub tops during breeding season, to establish territories and attract mates. This bird was photographed on spring migration on the Copper River Delta. Camera geek stuff: f5.7, 1/320, ISO250. For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

Fox Sparrow, Valdez, Alaska

Bird of the Week – Fox Sparrow

May 9, 2015

We’re not quite done with sparrows just yet. The Fox Sparrow is probably Alaska’s most variable sparrow, ranging from Sooty or Pacific subspecies shown here to the Red or Taiga species seen in Interior Alaska. There are at least four subspecies in Alaska; perhaps as many as 18 in North America. It’s also one of the Alaska largest sparrows, and kicks up leaves jumping and hopping as it forages. Unlike some other songbirds, it is perfectly, well, reasonably, confortable in the rain. Which in places like Valdez is a good thing. The Fox Sparrow also has one of the most…

Lincoln's Sparrow, Peat Ponds, Fairbanks, Alaska

Bird of the Week – Lincoln’s Sparrow

May 2, 2015

We’re still on sparrows. There are lots of sparrow species, the Little Brown Jobs or LBJs. This one is the Lincoln’s Sparrow, a boreal forest specialist. Because the species breeds only in boreal regions, has a distinct preference for dense shrub cover, and is secretive in nature, much of its biology remains poorly documented. And it can be difficult to photograph. (It’s not a great photo; it’s a little soft and the shadow across the head is a distraction. This is a target species for this coming summer.) The Lincoln’s Sparrow is a microhabitat specialist, preferring low willow cover with dense ground vegetation and…

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A 6-Pack of Reasons Amy Demboski Should Never Hold Office

Apr 30, 2015

Shockingly there are still Anchorage residents who are answering “undecided” when asked who they will vote for on May 5th in the mayoral election. Maybe their brains are stricken with spring fever, or cabin fever, or a controlled substance of some kind (#YesOn2). We’re about to make it easier for you to decide, and the decision has little to do with policy and everything to do with integrity, honesty, and ethics. We’d like to believe that those things, when utterly lacking in a candidate of any political persuasion, render that candidate unsuitable to hold office in the eyes of the…