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

Friday, July 12, 2019

Notes from the Denali Highway: Rose Petals and the Say's Phoebe

It’s 11 A.M. and the six of us are sitting on stools at the wooden bar of the Maclaren River Lodge.   The dining room is full, hence the bar seating.

Rob carefully sets three jars of jelly on the bar.   We all order toasted homemade bread.

Image may contain: food
Rob's original photo of his creations.

Leilani and I have been here since 8:30, mostly because her declared mission of the day is to photograph a Say’s phoebe that has nested here for several years, so there was little stopping along the 20 mile drive. 

The Say's phoebe isn't a rare bird in Alaska as it nests throughout the Interior, but this one certainly is the most accessible.  We haven’t had much luck with that so far, even though a staff lady showed us the phoebe’s nest in the eave of the lodge.

“You watch, Leilani,” I say.  “When the guys get here, Jamin will have that phoebe posing right where he wants it.

I get shots of an unknown bird, a white-crowned sparrow,  and a robin.   We photograph the many cliff swallows that are gathering mud for their nests on the bridge over the Maclaren river.   We check often for the phoebe.

I spot this little unknown bird on a log below the lodge and take a few photos of it with a bee or hornet.

Note how carefully it's holding the business end.

Now though, the guys are here and our toast is ready.   Let the tasting begin.   I place dabs of dandelion, spruce tip, and rose petal jelly on a half slice and hand it to Shawn, the bartender.   Then, I indulge.

I contribute a jaw of red currant jam.   Its bright red color and bold tang contrast sharply with the delicate pastels and subtle flavors of Rob’s jellies.   All of his jellies are delicious, but my fav is the rose petal.

Rob foraged widely for his ingredients.   All the currants for my offering came from a bush my mother gave me forty years ago, and from the wild bushes that grow on my property.

Suddenly, we notice that Jamin has disappeared.   That can mean only one thing.   We grab our cameras and head outdoors.

Sure enough, just as I teased Leilani, Jamin has the Say’s phoebe “right where he wants it.”   Its perches couldn’t be more perfect for all of us to get clear looks.   It remains still for a spell, then moves to another, and another

Staccato sounds of click, click, click. 



I scroll back through my photos  to the unknown bird with the hornet and check with Jamin.   It was the Say's phoebe, after all. 

Yes, you, you famous little dear.

Meanwhile, inside the lodge, a number of road-dazed tourists are listening to a presentation about the lodge and this area before they have lunch.   They are on a trip with a well-known cruise/land tour operator and are on a long road trip from a lodge in the Wrangell-St. Elias mountains to Denali National Park, or vice versa.

They have no idea what’s they’re missing out here.

1 comment:

  1. Sitting here in Hong Kong, we loved this Post to the hilt. So happy you got your photos of the Says Phoebe. Just like being there with you Gullible. We could almost taste the jelly. Smiles from Cap and Hugs from Patti