Friday, December 19, 2008

Wildlife sightings 2008

February 19, 2008
As we were driving home this week, early one evening when it was twilight, a boreal owl swooped in front of our car on Old Nenana, near the top of Old Ridge Trail. Later that evening, we heard a Boreal Owl way off in the distance, and wondered if it was “our” owl.

February 23, 2008
The Redpolls are baaccck! Seems to be about 8-12 out there under and on the feeder. Lots of boreal and black-capped chickadees. All winter, we have had a Hairy Woodpecker pair, and perhaps two males. A Downey Woodpecker male, also, and perhaps a female. We put up a woodpecker nest box and a chickadee nest box this fall. We’ll be watching them! Last night, Sine took the dogs out in the middle of the night and heard a Great Horned Owl hooting way off. A few weeks ago, Kayt heard a pair of them calling, and one was really close—she thinks maybe at Owl Cabin. Haven’t seen the fox in several weeks, maybe several months. Our new neighbors up the road say they have a pair, so perhaps that is where our fox went. Kayt had pointed our Pine Grosbeaks—maybe two males and one female—last weekend.

March 1, 2008
On Old Nenana, just at the foot of the hill where we saw the wolf four years ago, a pure white arctic hare charged towards us, and then changed her mind and returned to the woods. Pure white! Could only tell what it was when it was moving.

March 12, 2008
Sine is at Owl Cabin working on a paper. Just now, a male spruce grouse walked by in full regalia. He strutted past the window, looking from side to side for his admirers, none of whom I saw. His beautiful copper-tipped tail was splayed, and it waggled from side to side as he strutted. Then, just as I finished typing this, a hen sped past. She was on the edge of the woods, about 20 yards away from the house, moving in the same general direction as Pretty Boy.

Summer, 2008.
Kayt doesn’t remember when this incident happened, so we are just putting it down for mid-summer. Sine was in NC packing up Bold Moon, that much we know for sure. Anyway, Kayt was working at the computer, when for some reason she looked out the window. Maybe a dog gruffed? There was a black bear under the bird feeder! Kayt says that it just sat on its haunches and tipped the bird feeder up and into its mouth! Quite the sighting for Kayt and the dogs.

September 14, 2008
Wilson came by with some elk, buffalo, and moose that he had killed. Yummy! Earlina, Kayt’s boss, also gave us some moose that she had bagged, and Sheri L. gave us some delicious smoked salmon they had canned earlier in the fall. We are eating high on the food chain these days since Sine turned out to be allergic to so many non-meat foods.

Week of Oct. 12-18, 2008
Sometime this week, in the evening, we were alerted to something outside on the deck by ThorSun. Couldn’t see anything at first, then realized it was a Northern Flying Squirrel perched on top of the deck screen door which is opened out making a good perch. It hung out long enough for us to identify it and see and admire its flat tail, then “flew” down to the workbench out there and took off. Earlier this week, on Old Ridge Trail Sine saw a Willow Ptarmigan in winter plumage. We’ve also been seeing lots of Spruce Grouse on Old Ridge Trail. Some boys strutting in full display plumage.

Oct. 18, 2008 – Saturday morning
Sine had to go in to the office early for a phone conference interview. Ursa woke me up barking right before 9:00 am. I looked out for a moose, Couldn’t see one though, but Ursa kept barking and Borys was all excited. I kept looking and finally saw a pretty fox in the woods beyond the deck. Very pretty fox with bushy tail. It strode around for awhile out there. The dogs kept barking, even louder when I finally saw the fox. I’m thinking that maybe the dogs smelled the fox but hadn’t actually seen it until I did, as Ursa was going back and forth from window to deck doors barking to start with. Finally, with all of the barking and carrying on the fox left. I waited quite awhile to let the dogs out, and told them not to chase. They ran right out where the fox had been, but mostly seemed to have been just excitedly smelling. I left the dogs out for awhile, but they came back in when I squeaked the squeaky ball out the deck doors. I think I saw a female Pine Grosbeak out under the feeder too, but didn’t get a positive identification. From demeanor and size and other factors sure seemed to be a female grosbeak though. Later I did see a female and a male grosbeak out under the feeder, and a female hairy woodpecker on the feeder.

October 30, 2008
Sometime last week, we were driving home on Old Nenana and a small animal plummeted across the road in front of us. We realized it was a Flying Squirrel. Pretty amazing. Other more routine sightings this week include a flock of Spruce Grouse in our driveway, the yard Fox, and a Downy Woodpecker this AM on the suet feeder. Hairy Woodpeckers are common sightings, and of course, many Boreal and Black Capped Chickadees. Sine saw a Loon on the Chena two or three weeks ago in front of her accupuncturist’s office. The News-Miner has an article today about a Yellow Billed Loon, and we are wondering if it is the same loon.

November 9, 2008
A male and female Pine Grosbeak are under the feeders snacking on sunflower seeds. Kayt had spotted the pair earlier this fall, so I assume it’s the same pair. Also a female Downy Woodpecker and a male Hairy Woodpecker have been taking turns at the suet along with Black Capped Chickadees. The ubiquitous Gray Jays, looks to be three of them, enjoying the suet this morning. Earlier this week, on Tuesday (election day!), Kayt sat in the car at the Chena River while Sine went to get poked with needles. When Sine came back out, there were two dark-headed loons on the river! Kayt had been reading the whole time, so missed them. We sat for a few minutes in the car and enjoyed watching them dive and surface many feet away.

December 23, 2008
A pesky squirrel chewed through our hanging feeder contraption, and the whole set of feeders was hanging catawampus. This is the third time a squirrel has done this—same culprit, maybe? Kayt got airplane wire, the serious stuff, this week, and we strung it up. No squirrel will chew through this! We’ve got about a dozen Black-capped Chickadees, a male Downy Woodpecker, and a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers. Three Gray Jays—a family group we assume—hang out and enjoy the seeds. Haven’t seen Boreal Chickadees in months, and don’t know why not. An occasional fox visitor, but not as often as in the past. We often have a flock of Spruce Grouse in the driveway and under the trees. Borealys always seems surprised that she can make a dozen birds explode into the trees. There are many Willow Ptarmigan this year, pure white and plump. Must be a banner year for them. Just a couple of weeks ago two of them flew in front of the car and landed on the ground while we were getting gas at Gold Hill. They do not seem to be the smartest birds in the world, as they just pecked the ground for seeds and gravel though there were big trucks and snowmachines zipping just a few feet from them. We see them all the time on Parks Highway in the valley, especially around Gold Hill. We also see them at the top of Old Ridge Trail.

December 26, 2008
And suddenly, there are Redpolls. Perhaps two dozen of them, swarming and diving at the feeders. Maybe six Black-Capped Chickadees, and an entire flock of Redpolls. The feeder is half empty yet it's just now noon. It's only been fully light for an hour or so. A male Downy Woodpecker, and a Hairy Woodpecker pair. I wonder if the Redpolls are here for the duration, or if the flock is just passing through on its journey to somewhere else. We had significant snowfall the last two days--about a foot more of accumulation on top of the two feet we already had. The deck furniture looks like giant marshmallows.

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