Monday, March 31, 2008

Birds & Fox pt. 7

Common Redpoll (Carduelis flammea)

Coming back to the house from a hike along the ridge, Bob spotted these little red polls by the north dam. Good eyes. We came up to them slowly anxious to get a good look. We were able to get right up next to them as they were completely consumed by the small area of dead grass that wasn't covered in snow!

Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)

Emperor Goose (Chen canagica)

Emperor Geese with Black Oystercatchers on Sankin Island

Our first attempt at landing on Sankin Island was unsuccessful. The only beach is made up of large cobbles and has a very steep incline. We stayed on the beach about one minute as the waves were crashing into the back of the boat. We threw Inde back in the skiff and decided it was probably smarter to just cruise around the island. Then we spotted these birds on the rocks along the opposite shore. To see a full photo of Sankin Island check out the posting titled Rounding Sentinel 2.

A juvenile male King Eider (Somateria spectabilis)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Books, Birds, Flora and Fauna (lists)

BOOK LIST (Sept-March)

River Notes, Of Wolves and Men, Arctic Dreams and Winter Count by Barry Lopez
Steller's Island by Dean Littlepage
Walt Whitman, A life by Justin Kaplan
The Sea Runner's and Winter Brothers by Ivan Doig
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
Singing to the Sound by Brenda Peterson
Unmak edited by Tyler Schlung
River of the West by Robert Clark
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Rains all the Time by David Laskin
The River Why by David James Duncan
Coal by Barbara Freese
The Gospel of Nature by John Burroughs
Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis
Beyond the Hundredth Meridian and The Gathering of Zion by Wallace Stegner
1491 by Charles Mann
Good News, Black Sun and Freedom and Wilderness by Edward Abbey
Refuge by Terry Tempest Williams
Wild to the Heart and the Ninemile Wolves by Rick Bass
The Unknown Islands by Henry Swanson
Land of Giants by David Lavender
Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie
Green Alaska by Nancy Lord
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Robbing the Bees by Holley Bishop
The Poisonwood Bible, Small Wonder and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
The Master Butcher's Singing Club by Louise Erdrich
The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
Bailey's Cafe by Gloria Naylor
The Living by Annie Dillard
Under the Sea Wind by Rachel Carson
Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee by Lee Brown
A Continuous Harmony, Recollected Essays (1965-1980) by Wendell Berry
Two in the Far North by Margaret Murie
Cunt by Inga Muscio
Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
Permaculture Garden by Graham Bell
The Natural Alien by Neil Evernden
Pacifism as Pathology by Ward Churchill
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Letters of a Woman Homesteader by Ellinore Pruitt Stewart


Birds of the West and Bird Life and Behavior by David Allen Sibley
Ethnography of the Aleutians Edited by Lydia Black
The Sea Vegetable Book by Judith Madlener
Alaska's Animals and Fishes by Frank Dufresne
Between Pacific Tides by Edward Rickets and Jack Calvin
Flora of the Alaska by Eric Hulten
A Field Guide to the Mammals by William Henry Burt
The Alaskan Mushroom Hunter's Guide by Ben Guild
Discovery Wild Plants by Janice Schofield
A Field Guide to Animal Tracks by Olaus Murie
Plants of Alaska by The University of Alaska
Tanaina Plantlore by Priscilla Russell Kari
Plants of the Pacific Northwest by Pojar and Mackinnon
Pacific Seashores by Thomas Carefoot
Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
Birds of Alaska by Robert Armstrong
The Seed Starter's Handbook by Nancy Bubel
Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening by Rodale Press
Homebrewing without Failures by H.E. Bravery
Alaska Backyard Wines by Jan O'Meara
How to Knit by Debbie Bliss
Fisherman's Knots and Nets by Graumont and Wenstrom


Horned and Tufted puffins (summer)
Rhinocerus auklet (summer)
Golden-crowned sparrow (summer)
Black-legged kittiwake (summer)
Semipalmated plover (summer)
Peregrin falcon
Bald eagle
Pelagic cormorant
Black-billed magpie
Black raven
Willow ptarmigan
Harlequin duck
Thick-billed and Common murre
Song sparrow
Crested and Least auklets
Emperor goose
Horned grebe
Common and Yellow-billed Loon
Pigeon guillemot
Marbled, Kittlitz's and Ancient murrelets
Rock sandpiper
Tundra swan
Canada goose
Belted kingfisher
White-winged, surf and black scoters
King and Steller's Eiders
Red-breasted merganser
Snow bunting
Red poll
Black oystercatcher
Gray-crowned rosy finch
American dipper
Common goldeneye
Bonaparte's and Mew (summer)
Herring, Glaucous and Glaucous-winged


Cow Parsnip or Putschki
Blueberry (highbush and lowbush)
Boletus mushrooms
Swedish Dwarf Cornel
Lady fern
Fragile fern
Bracken fern
Sitka Alder
Beach Strawberry
White Paintbrush
Watermelon berry
Fringe Cup
Pacific Silverweed
Cotton grass
Blue bells
Sea Purslane
Dune Grass
Arctic Lupine
Monkey Flower
Pearly Everlasting
Large-leaved Avens
Black Lily
Lambs Quarter
Chocolate Lily
Giant Kelp
Sea Lettuce
Spring Beauty (claytonia)


Ground squirrel
Red fox
Brown bear
Sea otter
River otter
Harbor seal
Barren-ground Caribou
Masked shrew
Steller's Sea lion
Orca or Killer whale
Minke whale

Gray wolf (tracks only)
Wolverine (tracks only)

Pacific halibut
Yellowfin sole
Pacific cod
Red Irish Lord fish
King crab
California mussels
sea anemones
chitons (lined, leatherbacks and gumboots)
Purple starfish
Sunflower starfish
Thatched barnacles
other barnacle
Purple encrusting sponge
Sand dollar
Clam shells
Scallop shells
Cockle shells
Minute neopolitan snail
Calcarious tube warm

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Rounding Sentinel 1

We had been planning on this hike to circumnavigate Sentinal Peak for some time. The weather promised to be sunny and the winds reasonable so we headed out early afternoon. Our days are much longer now and we have light until after 9 pm.

Heading up from the house was easier than usual as the snow has firmed over from the sunny days and cold nights. It was our quickest hike up so far. We'd like to think it was fast due to our increased stamina but we know that is not the case.

Looking west at Unimak Island from near the ridge top

Entering the Sankin watershed

Looking down and out to Sankin Beach. After crossing the ridge on the north side of Sentinal we headed down into this valley and followed the stream towards the beach. It was really beautiful, quiet and peaceful, and out of the persistent winds of the open tundra.

The stream is followed by alder thickets all the way out. There were signs of huge numbers of ptarmigan (accompanied by fox tracks) but no sight or sound of them.

Rounding Sentinel 2

After about two hours of relatively easy walking we arrived at Sankin Beach. A few days prior we had tried to land the skiff on the beach to do some beachcombing but the waves were too rough. Today however the shore was peaceful. We scared away a large raft of harlequins and black scoters and then found ourselves quite alone. We had hoped to see some of the caribou that we imagine must live around the protected valley but there was no sign of them.

Sankin Island

After a short rest, the clouds began to quickly descend from the north so we headed down the beach for some speedy beachcombing as the snow started to fall.

We had a truly fabulous beachcombing experience. I have been searching the beaches for signs of the Japanese glass floats and on this day there it was, right on the edge of the rocks piled high from the tide. Happy Day! Amongst the plethora of whale bones we also found a piece of petrified wood and a large (whale?) tooth. Not to mention some great driftwood slabs which I have been using as canvas for painting.

Heading up to the Palisades with Sankin Beach already far behind us.

Rounding Sentinel 3

Looking north, Sentinel Peak on the left, Sankin Beach and the continent/peninsula to the right

The second half of our route is a skirting of the southern flank of Sentinel, westward along the edge of the Palisades, a three mile row of cliff faces hundreds of feet high. To our south (and below us) lay Ikatan Bay, a busy fishing area in the summer and the entrance to False Pass.

The smooth tundra slopes that fall from the mountains are often interrupted by deep ravines. Crossing them usually presents us with a challenge. Here though, Jen is brushing up on her high alpine raiding and defensive skills. Looks like I'll be in good hands.

Looking east, the peninsula runs back towards the rest of Alaska. The waters to the right lead immediately out to the Pacific.