So last week’s subzero temperatures finally vanished. Overnight. And just like that the snow started melting as days warmed into the mid-40s and 50s F. Even more miraculously, the waterfowl began to arrive.
First, I saw trumpeter swans. They came in pairs or small flocks, landing on ice shelves near open water. Their hornlike calls echoed like brass through the trees and across the marsh as they stretched their wings and rested.
After that, it wasn’t long – less than an hour – before I started hearing geese. Then, Canada geese in long skeins appeared overhead.
Trumpeter swans are always among the first spring migrants to return to Southcentral Alaska, with geese not far behind. But Alaskans know springtime is here when the pintails arrive. And here they were, drakes in flight already competing for reluctant hens.
Wildlife activity has certainly increased with the warm weather, and those movements aren’t limited only to waterfowl. An otter stopped by later in the evening, preceded by three young bull moose.
I’ve been a hunter most of my life and was raised on moose and caribou meat. But as I get older, I’m finding greater pleasure in photographing birds and animals, too. I’m able to incorporate my hard-earned hunting and stalking skills to get pictures. It’s fun, challenging, and the pictures last longer than the meat. Of course, it’s all good.
The seasons change swiftly here in Alaska, this land of extremes as it has been called. It’s part of the fascination of living here. That, along with the wild lands and wild creatures that accompany it all.