Saturday, September 30, 2006

This is
a pic that Dan snapped of me one morning at Foggy Island. He made fun of me for coming to breakfast with all my bear gear. He was right--I was more Bearanoid than Bear Aware. Here I am with the shotgun, bear spray in my pocket and of course my flax seed.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Look at the moss on the forest floor. The forests of Southeast Alaska are so incredibly lush. Sometimes if it was a hot sunny day and we were tired from kayaking, we would park the kayaks on an island and hike into the forest. There we would nap in the shade on the softest "mattress" you can imagine!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

We were constantly followed by seals when we were kayaking in the Beardslee Islands in Glacier Bay. But usually when you turned your head to look at them, they would pop under the water again! On this particular day, there were so many following us that not all of them got under in time and these three were captured on film!

Monday, September 25, 2006

One day in Glacier Bay we watched Black Bear sow and her two cubs on the island right next to
ours. They had walked over to the island on a low tide and the cubs didn't want to swim when the tide got higher! They were yowling and crying loudly, it was a little sad.

Here's me and my work partner Louis in our "office" in Glacier Bay. Not such a bad place to work! That's the Fairweather mountain range in the background.

We found a Humpback Whale stuck one morning in a channel between two islands.
He had come in when the tide was high and hadn't gotten out in time and the tide got too low for him to swim out. He had to wait 12 hours for the next tide and was making very frustrated sounds. We left him alone and paddled another way around him but made sure he made it out the next time we came by.

There were
berries everywhere and we picked a lot of them! We left some for the bears and other critters.

Glacier Bay is an incredible place to work. I felt privileged to be there. We had a different amazing view every night, depending on where we camped. We listened to Humpbacks while eating dinner. It was a lot better than tv!

Here is my favorite bird, the beautiful Black Oystercatcher. This is an adult. They have beautiful yellow eyes ringed with orange and a bright orange beak, as you can see. They also have an extremely distinctive call. When you approach, they do their call and a "broken wing display," during which they act as if they have a broken wing and then try to lead you away from their nest limping along with their "broken wing." It's quite ingenious. On top are some examples of the display.

Here is a "teenager" Oystercatcher. The awkward fluffy downy stage. Note my utilitarian necklace: lighter, sharpie and penny to open bear barrels.

Here is an Oystercatcher chick just starting to get his beautiful colored beak. His eyes have not changed color yet!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

We found this little guy hanging out at our camp one day and named him Socks for obvious reasons. He wanted to be part of our herd and stayed close for some time, as you can see by his proximity to our boot trees. I loved having him around but eventually he went to find some furrier friends.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Colorful Birds

We painted the heads of birds who spend most of their time swimming, like Red Necked Phalaropes, so when resighting we didn't have to see their color banded legs. We also painted the heads of other shorebirds when we ran out of color band combinations. I don't think they minded TOO much.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This was my first day at the field camp, on Foggy Island, practicing with the 12 gage. Little did we know we'd eventually have to use it!!

Monday, September 18, 2006

This is one of the views on the drive home from Fairbanks. It's crazy that the people who work at this gas station get to look at this all day. It's the Matanuska Glacier and it's literally in their backyard!!

This is a nice paw print Sobe left for us. The guys wanted to get some plaster of paris and make a cast but we didn't have time.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


I stopped by the Reindeer farm at UAF to visit my old friends. I volunteered there two winters ago and got to go on a Reindeer research trip to White Mountain, a village outside of Nome.
You can see that the one closeup reindeer hasn't shed all the velvet on his antlers yet. You can see the reindeer in the closeup pics has not shed the velvet on his antlers yet. I think they thought it was feeding time!

Only in AK...

You probably wouldn't see a sled dog crossing sign in many other places. Mushing is such a huge activity in the winter, some people use their teams to go places in Fairbanks. They have to cross large roads and you have to be on the lookout.


I stopped by my friend's house on the way to Chena. She is a recreational musher and is taking care of several puppies for a friend, just my luck! Merlin the HUGE pet dog wanted in on the action because I had biscuits.


It's REALLY fall in Fairbanks. I took these on the drive out the Chena Hot Springs Lodge, which is about an hour outside the city. I was lucky to spot the moose.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Boys

After a month and a half doing Avian Influenza research in Oilfields, I hooked up with my partners for the post-breeding research project at the remote field camp. This is Kevin and Dan headed off for a day's work on Foggy Island. Dan, in the black jacket, was our volunteer. He has a PHD in engineering and was taking a break from a lucrative engineering career to volunteer on this project. He was really knowledgeable about birds and was really psyched to see birds that he knew from back home in Santa Barbara. Kevin is another great birder--he recognized most any bird by a few notes of song, pretty impressive. Right now he is doing a 100 mile backcountry backpacking trip in the Sierras. Straight from the remote field camp to that, again, pretty impressive. We had to carry all our gear with us and we had a 10 km. study area so I was lucky to have 'em! Oh, and they both loved to cook. Kevin's specialty was enchiladas and Dan made awesome scones. The closeup is what happened to Kevin's hair after 18 days of not bathing.

Stairs to Nowhere

Another totally random oilfield structure that amused me.


You see really strange equipment and structures in the oilfields on a daily basis. Here are a few of those sights. I wondered constantly, what do with it all?


This is a typical sight in Deadhorse, the town that exists only to support the oilfields and its workers. Wildlife surrounded by oilfield infrastructure is common. These immense rigs and machines abound. My favorite was the Radio Flyer, which looks like a building but is really on wheels! You can see one of the tires in this pic. And God help you when one of these takes to the road. They put platforms down on both sides of the road to support them, they're that massive. I know people that have had to wait for five hours behind a rig move. They can take all day to move several miles. You have to make sure you ask in the morning at the entrance to the oilfield if there's a rig move that day, or you can be very sorry. One time we forgot to ask and went to Kuparek, which is the western part of the oilfield, about an hour drive. On the way home we got stuck behind a rig move. We had to wait over an hour but luckily we had reading material in the truck. Some are known as "Dead Rigs," they're just parked alongside the road, never to be used again, and they're massive. They look very Mad Max-like. The ravens love to nest on them.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Golden fall

The fall colors are here! I missed this the past two years because my first year I arrived in December and last year I was in LA for my knee surgery. Here's the Nenana River with a few fall colors peeking in. Double click on the picture if you want see a larger view. This vista is right off the highway on the drive from Fairbanks to Anchorage. I left my truck in Fairbanks all summer so I just did this drive back to Anchorage two weekends ago. I couldn't believe how beautiful it was because I usually drive it in the dead of winter when I am doing sled dog handling and it's pretty in its own way, but nothing like this. I am back up in Fairbanks this weekend for a sled dog guide job interview and it's even more yellow than two weeks ago. But they say it won't be long before the leaves are all gone and winter begins!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Momma Moose and Calf

This is what I saw on my way home from work tonight. When I am back in Anchorage I do production stuff and driving home from a shoot I saw this calf and momma moose. Just hanging out browsing right by a big road, as you can tell from the car whizzing by. The calf suckled mom for a while and then went to forage by herself. I love the calf's huge brown eyes. The roadside wildlife viewing is a perk to living in AK, even when you're stuck in the city!!