Spring Update: Waterfowl

No luck this morning on my annual quest for Morchella, but it’s early yet. The springtime dance has barely started here at north latitude 61.2 degrees. We’re getting close, though. The birch buds are just one sunny afternoon away from popping the country into an explosion of green. The morels will appear soon after, but for now signs of the season can be found in the arrival of winged things.

The Alpine News

The hike begins early in the morning, around 5:30 for we with creatures to meet and places three miles up the valley to be. I don’t know if snowshoes will be needed, but a mix of deep drifts and warm April days have conjured visions of post-holing to my thighs. I’ll attach the snowshoes toContinue reading “The Alpine News”

Spring Dispatch

It’s happening already. Springtime has barely arrived and I’m already so busy outdoors hiking, photographing, and watching nature that I’m falling behind on posts. I visited a favorite wetlands area early last week and was happy to find snow geese among the Canada geese, northern pintails, mallards, and trumpeter swans. Snow geese in groups smallContinue reading “Spring Dispatch”

Snow White & Waiting for Spring

Just over a week ago, the temperatures in Anchorage, Alaska, were dipping down below zero degrees F. This white-tailed ptarmigan tried to make the best of the cold weather it by hunkering in a beam of sunlight. Incidentally, white-tailed ptarmigan are North America’s smallest grouse. Adults top out at weights of around 12 ounces, onContinue reading “Snow White & Waiting for Spring”

On Their Way

Anchorage, Alaska, remains covered in two or three feet of snow these days, with fresh buckets-full coming down at this very moment. But don’t be fooled. Springtime is on its way and the first Canada geese will be showing up here in about four weeks. Trust them. They’ve returned to this part of the worldContinue reading “On Their Way”

A Winter’s Walk with Woody

By Ken Marsh A spruce bark beetle infestation across Southcentral Alaska in recent years has proven beneficial for regional woodpeckers. From Petersville to Palmer, Anchorage and beyond, infested trees have provided a year-round banquet for these sharp-billed birds. Downy and hairy woodpeckers are most common around Anchorage, but a hike yesterday was highlighted by anContinue reading “A Winter’s Walk with Woody”

CONFESSIONS OF A CASUAL BIRDER

Alaska’s wild side is home to a distinctive assortment of birds. By Ken Marsh “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”   —William Shakespeare The surf charges in with a drumroll that crescendos, peaks, then breaks in a carbonated hiss. It’s late afternoon and, wrapped in waders and raingear, I’ve left the shelter ofContinue reading “CONFESSIONS OF A CASUAL BIRDER”

Spruced Up for Springtime

Springtime in Southcentral Alaska means breeding season for spruce grouse. Male spruce grouse, identified easily by their black- and white-trimmed throats and chests topped with scarlet eye combs, get dandied up in April and May to court hens. Although they’re not formal lekers, males can often be found concentrated in relatively small areas during breedingContinue reading “Spruced Up for Springtime”

RIDDLE of the WINNOWING SNIPE

Although the photo illustration is not the usual full-frame bird close-up, this blog post may be of interest to people from the northern United States, Canada, and Alaska who’ve been seeing – and hearing – a lot of common snipe lately. The picture captures a snipe diving from the cloudy sky near Anchorage, Alaska, thisContinue reading “RIDDLE of the WINNOWING SNIPE”