Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Last Trip to Ikatan

About a week before we were due to leave the Aleutians we had a wonderfully clear day thrown into the mix of windy cold days we had been having. We knew that we had to take advantage! Both of us agreed that we wanted to head to Ikatan and re-explore the old village and then walk over to Otter Cove and the Pacific.

This tufted puffin was actually spotted on the ride home. The first of the year and according to records it was about a week or so early. No other puffins were in sight. We felt extremely lucky to have been able to see another one before we left.

Another Ancient murrellet. They have been in large groups in the pass for a few weeks now.

Pictures from the village.

The changing face of Sentinal Peak as the snow melts.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Monday, April 28, 2008

Birds pt.8

Rock ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus)

There are both willow and rock ptarmigan in this area. Only the male rock ptarmigan has this distinct black eye patch. Normally rock ptarmigan gather in large flocks during the winter months.

We spotted these ptarmigan in the tundra behind the house. Originally it was a flock of about 15, only these three males were not scared away. We had been trying to get a closer look at these birds for some time. When we saw them we were able to watch them for some time, gradually getting closer and closer before we eventually scared them off.

Pigeon guillemot (Cepphus columba)

The pigeon guillemot has just begun to change from its grayish winter plumage to this sleek black. Many in the pass are in various stages of molting.

Ancient Murrelet (Synthliboramphus antiquus)

Ancient murrelets spend their lives at sea and come to land only to breed. They are active at night at their colonies. This adaptation for avoiding daytime predation by gulls and raptors makes them hard to observe on land. They can be identified by the distinctive nighttime vocalizations they use for sexual display and individual recognition.

On the 14th of April we headed in to town and noticed quite a change on the pass. All winter the water has been full with thousands of Oldsquaws or Long-tailed ducks. Their calls normally fill the air. On this day there was no sight or sound of them. In their place suddenly there were hundreds of Ancient murrelets. We hadn't seen any of these seabirds since fall. They dotted Isanotski Strait in flocks of 5 to 50. Two weeks later they are still out there in large numbers.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Awakening

Last night around 8 pm: Bob says that he hears some noises coming from the laundry area. Our thought is that perhaps an ermine has found its way into the house through a pipe. We are carefully looking around and then suddenly Inde starts barking (Inde never barks) and Bob turns to look out the side door window into the face of a big brown bear! It was scratching at the door and then stuck its head into the dog door. We make a mad dash for the guns and some bullets. At this point the bear came around to the porch and started pawing and slobbering on the windows. Inde was able to get a look at the nature of the commotion and boy was she scared! Bob went upstairs to shoot the gun out the back door but it had little effect. The bear came back to the side door and stood up and began to push and shake the door (which we had just locked for the first time). After a few more shots the bear actually headed to the back door towards Bob. At this point we noticed there was another smaller bear in front of the house too. This one was scared away by the gunshots. Bob and I switched places and he shot from the side door while I monitored the bears actions from the upstairs door. The bear was scratching the window and trying to chew on the window sill. It was amazing to see the bear inches away from my face! Then it headed away from the house to the chicken coop and began to try and tear down the fencing to the outdoor run. I yelled to Bob, who came running upstairs and shot the gun towards the bear. No matter, he proceeded to collapse the side of the chicken run. Bob now had to take real aim at the bear and struck it in the backside with bird shot. It jumped up and took off running.

We went outside and down to the beach to do a full reconnaissance. No other damage. According to their tracks the bears headed away on the beach in opposite directions. We came back to the house and let Inde out. She had to do a full inspection as well and did not want to come back inside. She wouldn't eat dinner and all day today she has been on edge and is currently on guard out on the porch. I don't think I have ever seen her so protective, I wasn't sure she had it in her!


Yes, indeed. That is excrement leaving the backside of the adult eagle.

"The immature Bald Eagle has a prolonged period of exploration lasting for four years. Some young from Florida have wandered north to Michigan, and birds from California have reached Alaska."

Immature eagles are variably patterned with dark brown and white. It takes five years to acquire full adult plumage. Their white markings are not restricted to well defined areas, but appear scattered throughout body, usually with brown mottling in same area. White in the wings is primarily in linings and not flight feathers.