"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Running on Full and Empty in the 'Hood

 Part One

My Wednesday began just after 2 A.M. when I stuck one more piece of firewood into wood stove and turned to go to bed.   A brilliant green light out the dining room window caught my attention and I walked out onto the front deck to verify my suspicion.

Up in the sky was the most astonishing display of  aurora borealis I've ever seen in this valley.  At a nippy 8 above, I lingered long after my fingers were too cold to operate my point and shoot camera.

I put on a jacket and spent the next hour outside, shooting photos.   My little point and shoot Coolpix did a fair job, but I could have better photos if I knew how to use my DSLR Nikon on a long exposure.   After a while, the lights faded and I went in to bed.


Because I didn't get to sleep until almost 6 o'clock, I didn't get up until 1 P.M.  When I sat down next to the front window with a cup of tea, the bird feeder was bombarded by pine grosbeaks.   I hadn't seen them since summer, so I got the good camera and the good lens and clicked away.

Female pine grosbeak

Male pine grosbeak

Male and female

Male and female grosbeaks

Male grosbeak.

Pretty soon the red breasted nuthatches and black capped chickadees arrived.

Red breasted muthatch

Sorry, little chickadee.   I know you're all dressed up for dinner, but the peanuts are too big for you.

I gathered up the camera equipment and drove to Tern Lake to see what was going on there.

A few nights of single digit temps and the lake was frozen.

A skater.

This fellow checked the thickness of the ice and found it was 4 inches.   Plenty.

The Tern Lake birch.

I thought I'd go over to Cooper Landing to see if there were any trumpeter swans to photograph, but just for fun, I pulled into a picnic area at the lake and went looking for the American dippers that live in the outfall creek there.

The bridge over Dave's Creek at the outfall of Tern Lake.

There were still many spawned out salmon in the creek.   Icky looking salmon.   Their life cycles end after spawning.

Those white lines are the backs of dying salmon.

Still looking for the dippers, I went up onto the bridge to look downstream.    Just then a large bald eagle landed in a tree beside me. 

This was turning into a great birding day.   After a few shots, the eagle flew off and the American dipper appeared.

There are salmon in the foreground.

 Dippers, once called water ouzels, are fascinating birds.   They literally swim and walk under water, searching for small fish, invertebrates, and eggs from fish.    They have very strong feet that enable them to grasp rocks and fight water currents.

 I took one more photo of this ice pattern and headed to Cooper Landing.

Back at the highway, I drove about 300 feet, looked to my left and....


(to be continued)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Travels with Pablo: The End of No-Nos

Things I can do now that Pablo is gone:

   I can wear what I want, when I want, without a certain parrot pitching a fit because it thinks I’m leaving the house.

Temper, temper!

    I can talk on the phone and not have to go to another room or outside to avoid a certain parrot screaming in jealousy because I’m talking with someone else.

    I can have visitors and talk with them without a certain jealous parrot screaming at us to shut up.

    I can eat chocolate and not have to hide it from a certain parrot.

    I can watch TV in peace and not have to scratch a certain parrot’s head constantly.

    I can go days and not have to clean the house of feathers, feathers, feathers everywhere.

Things I can’t do now that Pablo is gone:

            Get a goodnight kiss from a sweet little green parrot named Pablo.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Fruits of My Labor

Last summer I spent a lot or time and energy cutting, splitting, and stacking firewood.  I am now enjoying the fruits of that labor as three sticks of split firewood in the wood stove warms me and my home.

I am surrounded by mountains here in this valley.   When the earth tips on its axis and brings change to the seasons, the mountain to the south of me slowly becomes too high for the sun to peek over it.  The most notable period of shade occurs around 5 o'clock in the afternoon, and hence I call it the Five O'clock Shadow.

Swans linger until freeze up as the mountain on the right casts its shadow on the valley.

Then I know that the long warm days of summer are almost spent and that winter will soon be here.   The shadow soon becomes complete, running the length of the whole ridge line that is called Wrong Mountain.

Snow clouds gather to drop the first snow of the season, Oct. 16, a mere 3 inches.

From late October through Valentine's Day, no direct sunlight hits the valley.   That doesn't mean it's dark or even twilight.   When the sky is clear for the sun to shine on the snow-covered mountain to the north, there's quite the reflection of light.

A female merganser paddles around in open water as ice encroaches.

Late season fishermen enjoy temperatures just above freezing Saturday on the Kenai River.

Bald eagles hang around the headwaters of Tern Lake, feasting on spawning salmon.

Trumpeter swans linger along the snow-covered bank of Kenai Lake.   Some swans  migrate south, while others stay in the river all winter.

Hoar frost clings to dried grass.

Watching snow creep farther and farther down the mountains.

Valentine's Day brings hints of spring and it's fun watching the sun gaining ever more ground on the shadows each day.

And then, one wondrous day, the migrating swans and other waterfowl return to breed and raise their young.

Add caption

Red necked grebe

Greater scaup


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Travels with Pablo: The Question of His Immigration Status

Many, many years ago (1972), in a land far, far south of Alaska, a family traveling that country in their pickup/camper purchased a little green parrot from a street vendor.  When their vacationing was over, they turned their truck north and eventually arrived at the U.S. border.

After the usual questions to the driver, the border agent opened the door to the camper.   Whether or not he saw the parrot is known only to that agent.   Certainly he saw the three beautiful young girls—a redhead, a brunette, and a blonde— looking at him with doe eyes and perhaps that is where his gaze stopped.   The truck continued north to Alaska with the three girls and their baby parrot, which they named Pablo.

This photo of Pablo was taken a couple years ago.   I don't have any baby pixs of him.

The import from Mexico and countries south of there of many species of parrots, including the Mexican Double Yellow Headed Green Amazon, has been banned for many years, though Pablo seems to pre-date those conservation efforts.

As for his immigration status, well, that quandary is behind us now.  In fact, I firmly believe the question became moot when President Ronald Regan granted him citizenship status through amnesty in 1986.   (Well, along with 3.2 other illegal aliens.)