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November 27, 2015

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    Open Thread: Celebrating Thanksgiving at Alice’s Restaurant

    I’m not really sure how this became a family tradition of mine but it’s one of the few that at 34 I still stick to, listening to Alice’s Restaurant. The famous song by Arlo Guthrie has meant a lot to me – even was able to sing it with a Bishop and some Priests in a NYC holding cell a couple years ago. That’s a long story, that you can read here. Over the years I’ve mentioned what I thought was a weird family tradition to many friends – and almost all of them told me that they too had…

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    Black Lives Matter Takes to the Streets in NYC

    Black Lives Matter protestors took to the streets once again in Manhattan seeing several arrests and some abuse. This time the marchers were in solidarity with the Minneapolis occupiers that were shot, allegedly white supremacists and with the Black Lives Matter protestors in Chicago. They didn’t just take to the streets, they also took to Thanksgiving Day’s Official Sponsor, Macy’s. Employees and tourists stood by taking video with their phones and managers stood by just shaking their head as just for a moment, consumerism stopped. [Click on the links to view the videos] Raw Footage: #BlackLivesMatter March Through Macy's #NYC…

  • Say's Phoebe, Steese highway

    Bird of the Week – Say’s Phoebe

    One more flycatcher before we move to other birds: the Say’s Phoebe. The most colorful of Alaska’s flycatchers, the dark head and back and cinnamon chest and belly are distinctive. Say’s Phoebes breed on rocky cliff with ledges, but also nest on manmade structures. The outbuildings at Maclaren Lodge on the Denali Highway have hosted an extended family of Say’s Phoebes for many years. You can also find nests under highway bridges in alpine areas. The species is widespread in Alaska, but uncommon. It’s always a treat to find one. Neither of its cousins, the Black and Eastern Phoebe, occur…

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    Alaskan Reps Weigh In on Syrian Refugees

    Even though state and local officials have no actual power over preventing or allowing refugees to be placed in their state – nearly all of them have decided to weigh in on the issue. The 10,000 or so refugees that were originally planned on being brought to the US for temporary placement would go through “13 separate security screenings – at the international, federal and state level – before they are considered for resettlement,” but that doesn’t seem to be enough for some members of the Alaskan delegation. While not a single one of the terrorists that attacked Paris last…

  • Hammond's Flycatcher, Creamer's Refuge, Fairbanks

    Bird of the Week – Hammond’s Flycatcher

    We should all love flycatchers; they eat mosquitoes and other bugs. Among flycatchers, the Hammond’s is famously difficult to identify. Its appearance, behavior and vocalizations are very similar to Gray and Dusky Flycatchers. Happily, neither the Dusky nor Grey Flycatchers are commonly seen in Alaska. So a big-headed, mouse-grey backed flycatcher with a two-toned mandible is probably going to be a Hammond’s. Hammond’s both hawk bugs, flying from a perch, and probe for bugs, working through leaves and small branches. They are among the earliest flycatchers to arrive in the spring. Interior Alaska is northern limit of this species range;…


Grey-cheeked Thrush, Denali Highway

Bird of the Week – Grey-cheeked Thrush

Oct 10, 2015

Another bird that visits Alaska to breed, prefering brushy habitats. WC has seen it most often near tree line in near-alpine country. Very shy and elusive, except during the start of breeding season when the males sing from the tops of bushes and the dwarf spruce. This might be the least-studied North American thrush. Except by range and song, it can be tough to distinguish from its cousin, the Bicknell’s Thrush. The song is lovely, flute-like and burry, rising in the middle and then ending on a downward slur. Another of WC’s favorites in alpine terrain. Camera geek stuff: f5.6,…

Varied Thrush Male, Cordova, Alaska

Bird of the Week – Varied Thrush

Oct 3, 2015

The sad, burry song of the Varied Thrush haunts the western Boreal forest. You will hear this species more often than you see it, but its dramatic orange and black plumage make it distinctive. It’s slightly smaller than a Robin, with a similar orange breast, but the black mask and “necklace” make it impossible to confuse the two. Varied Thrush prefer mature spruce forests; they are a species of concern because of habitat loss. Camera geek stuff: f5.7, 1/250, ISO250 For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

American Robin feeding on Mountain Ash

Bird of the Week – American Robin

Sep 26, 2015

Even birders get tired of shorebirds. Let’s switch to thrushes. And by far the most common and the largest thrush in North America is the American Robin. WC has seen American Robins on the north side of the Brooks Range, in Nome, in the Yukon Delta, in Valdez and in Hyder, as well as all points in between. It’s also a species that adapts well to human-altered terrain. This fellow is showing feather wear; he’s likely about to molt into fresh chest feathers. The Robin’s song is one of WC’s favorite signs of spring. Camera geek stuff: f4, 1/400, ISO500,…

Wilson's Snipe, Tanana Lakes, Fairbanks

Bird of the Week – Wilson’s Snipe

Sep 19, 2015

Any guy who ever went to camp likely went on a Snipe Hunt. For those who never did, it’s a mild form of hazing, involving pillow cases, expeditions in the dark and getting left in the woods to feel foolish. So it may comes as surprise to learn there is such a thing as a snipe. Specifically, Wilson’s Snipe. This is a bird that is heard much more often than it is seen. Snipe courtship involves “winnowing,” a spectacular courtship flight, during which individuals produce a haunting, tremulous sound (the winnow) with their outspread outer tail-feathers. It is “produced by airflow…


Big Ideas for a Big State

Sep 15, 2015

By Howard Weaver President Obama’s recent attention to Alaska — especially in Dillingham, Kotzebue and Seward — provides a welcome focus for looking beyond the bleak landscape of oil price collapse and budget cuts toward a brighter, more sustainable future. For perhaps the first time since western contact, Alaskans may be motivated to turn away from the love-em-and-leave-em dynamics of extraction to embrace their genuine treasures: the cultural diversity and frontier spirit of its people; an abundance of renewable resources that can be managed and sustained forever; and indigenous wisdom from the North that can benefit all mankind. Seward, then…

Black Oystercatcher, Kachemak Bay, Alaska

Bird of the Week – Black Oystercatcher

Sep 12, 2015

About 15 years ago now, WC was in Valdez to start a Birdathon – in fact, a record-making Birdathon – when he encountered a drunken fisherman on the docks of the small boat harbor in Valdez, Alaska. The guy saw the binoculars and was able to conclude we were birders. “Yeah,” he slurred, “We just saw a Double-crested Oystercracker.” Which was probably a Black Oystercatcher. That’s a bird bill to remember, WC thinks you will agree. This is a true shorebird, spending its entire life along the rocky shores of the Pacific Ocean, found from the Aleutian Islands to Baja…

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Palin and the “Dogs” of a ‘War’ Against Police

Sep 9, 2015

Here’s video of Sarah Palin calling #BlackLivesMatter protesters dogs. — Jesse Berney (@jesseberney) September 9, 2015 Here’s the latest Palin stupidity working its way around the interwebs. Palin: “Oh, and you know, since our president won’t say it, since he still hasn’t called off the dogs, we’ll say, Police officers and first responders all across this great land, we’ve got your back, we salute you! Thank you, police officers!” The video was captured by a writer for the lefty BlueNationReview at the anti-Iran deal protest in Washington, DC today. The video picks up somewhat mid-statement so we’re not quite…


Sarah Palin, Speaking American, and Donald Trump

Sep 8, 2015

Authors note: Since every other blog and news site on the planet has commented on this, I felt that the Mudflats should share in at least some of those clicks. Because let’s be honest here, the only reason any of us are covering her at this point is for the traffic; she doesn’t have the influence to really  justify it. So with that statement out of the way, enjoy the slow moving train wreck. You’re reading this because, like me… you quietly hate yourself. But look at it this way; you didn’t have to transcribe 15 minutes of Palin-Speak.  There seems to be two out…


The Weekend Off – News You Missed

Sep 7, 2015

  Alaska ADN – Locals, biologists free polar bear caught in fishing net in Arctic Alaska Kaktovik residents and visiting biologists worked together to free a large polar bear that became entangled in a fishing net near a Beaufort Sea barrier island Saturday night. Smithsonian – Denali and America’s Long History of Using (or Not Using) Indian Names For American Indians, place names always tell something about the location, they aim to express the essence of the place, or its dominating characteristic or idea. As Europeans settled on the continent and early pioneers explored, they often gave places new names…

Black-bellied Plover, Tanana Lakes, Fairbanks

Bird of the Week – Black-bellied Plover

Sep 5, 2015

Oh Lordie, another shore bird? Yep. There’s a lot of them. At least this one has a name that makes sense, even if it only makes sense in breeding season. The European name for this species, Gray Plover, fits a lot better in non-breeding plumage, but WC doesn’t have a photo of a bird in non-breeding plumage. This handsome plover breeds along Arctic coastal Alaska and Canada, and in the Yukon Delta. It winters along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of North America. Camera geek stuff: f13, 1/500, ISO6400. For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.