Monday, October 14, 2019

Oh, autumn....

If a year was tucked inside of a clock, then autumn would be the magic hour. 
- Victoria Erickson

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. - George Eliot

Since my last post (how did August and September go by so fast?!), things are no longer very green in Anchorage.  Well, to be fair, most lawns are still green, and there are plenty of evergreen trees about.  However, many trees, shrubs and ground cover have made the transition to fall.  There are plenty of yellows, oranges, reds and browns to be seen in every hue imaginable, and it is often cool, grey and rainy these days.  Quite a contrast from last autumn where we had unseasonable warmth and sunshine well into October.  My husband would come home from his job with the National Weather Service and say "this isn't typical fall weather in Anchorage.  Next fall will likely be different." 

After a hot summer with many days of above normal temperatures and little rain, I'm not sure anyone is truly complaining about the current weather.  There were thousands of acres ablaze across the state, and the fire that brought lingering smoke into Anchorage for weeks has already cost tens of millions of dollars to fight.  The prediction has been it (Swan Lake Fire) would only be put out completely by snow.  As of yesterday it was still burning, although it is now ninety percent contained.

Despite the frequent soggy days, I have found windows of decent weather to ramble and roam, camera and binoculars in hand.  While many of the birds I enjoy observing in spring and summer have migrated to southern climes, there is still plenty to see and hear.  European Starlings have been visiting the trees along my neighborhood walk.  Black-capped Chickadees are easily spotted swooping from tree to tree throughout town.  As are Common Ravens, Black-billed Magpies, Red-breasted Nuthatches and Steller's Jays.  I never tire of the year-round, backyard commoners.  Their familiar colors, movements and calls are always beguiling. 

For a short while to come I'll be on the lookout for the late migrators plus muskrats and beavers until the wetlands freeze over.  A moose (or two) is an unfailingly welcome sight to behold as well.  I never, ever tire of seeing them stroll about in this city as though they're casually traversing a remote forest or meadow. 


Friday, July 19, 2019


My admiration for creatures that fly isn't limited to birds, especially this time of year when dragonflies and damselflies are in abundance.  It seems every body of water, meadow, walkway or even roadway is currently a flight path for those in the odonata family.  

a type of whiteface skimmer dragonfly 

a bluet damselfly
I've visited Reflections Lake twice in the last month with family and friends from out-of-state, and I look forward to strolling this trail again.  This is where I spotted the insects above and the scenery + fauna below.  It must be beautiful come autumn as the marsh grasses and tress change color.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Eagle River Nature Center

While my sister was visiting last month, we took a trip to Eagle River Nature Center.  Having never been there, we weren't sure what to expect.  The drive beyond the town of Eagle River was gorgeous with glimpses of mountains and river despite lingering wildfire smoke.  

The Center was closed that day so we weren't able to tour the visitor center or get in-person advice on the best trails, but we had a pretty good idea which paths we wanted to take.  A dry erase board out front advised folks which trails are frequented by bears, and moments later we saw the first of many large piles of bear scat.  We hesitated a bit but then decided to continue.  Living and working in Yellowstone is where I accepted the risk of hiking in bear country, but that doesn't mean I don't get nervous.  It does mean I make a lot of noise on the trail.  After coaching my sister on what to do if we were to see a bear or be approached by a bear, we set off.  

part of the Albert Loop Trail

seemed like fairies should have been flitting amongst the Wild Irises

She laughed a lot as Tim and I yelled out "hey bear!" while clapping our hands and sang a lot of silly songs quite loudly.  I kept telling her "you want that bear to know you're coming."  Well, we never did see a bear - black or brown.  This is probably a good thing since we were distracted by the scenery in several places.  What a beautiful place to spend the day.

lovely columbine - this coloring is called Granny's Bonnets, Wild Columbine, Western Columbine or Canada Columbine 

Fireweed along the banks of Eagle River

This is Yellow Dryas, post-bloom with its "hairy" seeds.

A quick search of a US Forest Service website shows this could be Lungwort aka lung lichen, a food source for many forest critters and insects.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

the weather

The Anchorage summer heat wave has finally ended.  We're now experiencing more reasonable temperatures, albeit still above normal.  Today is cloudy, cool and WONDERFUL.  It's nice to have a hot cuppa and not sweat while sipping it on the couch.  Our crazy calico is no longer sprawled on the floor, belly up, with a look of longing in her eyes for autumn-like weather.  We're just not a hot weather family.  Never have been.  I may have asked Tim when we'll be moving to northern Scotland when it hit 90°F at the airport on July 4th. 

So today, believe it or not, is still beach Alaska.  It's currently 60°F.  Yippee!

Kincaid beach