Category Archives: wildlife

Katmai Bear Cam

The Bear Cam at Brooks Falls within Katmai National Park is back up and running. It is brought to us every year by the fine folks at explore.org

The link is here:

https://www.explore.org/livecams/explore-all-cams/brown-bear-salmon-cam-brooks-falls


Rough Weekend?

Hydrate, I just need to hydrate…


You eyeballin’ me?

My welcoming committee when I arrived home the other night. Her calf was on the other side of me, blockading the trail to the cabin. Neither moose was in an accommodating mood.


Year of the Tiger

Saber Tooth Tiger; Image Credit: NatGeo
Chomp, chomp, chomp…

Nanuqsaurus

The Nanuqsaurus; Image credit: CBC

Fossils of the previously unknown species of dinosaur were discovered in Alaska’s North Slope in 2006. A cousin of the T-Rex, the Nanuqsaurus (polar bear-lizard) was originally thought to be approximately half the size of a T-Rex, but more recent evidence points to the Arctic dino as being in the size range of the Albertosaurus.

The Nanuqsaurus roamed what is now Alaska some 70 million years ago, and new findings have evidence of the species living in what is now Denali National Park.

The reconstructed skull of a Nanuqsaurus in the Perot Museum


Mornings with the Moose

I’m ready for my closeup

With the dumping of snow, and especially the layer of freezing rain in-between, moose have had some challenges getting around. Like many of us, they will gravitate towards the route with the least resistance, which puts them on our trails, driveways and outhouse paths.

A moose cow and calf were hanging out before the snow storm, and they have been regulars since. My shoveled paths have become their trails, and the trees in the yard have received a decent trimming.

Things became a bit cozier when the temps dropped into the -35F range a week or so ago. I was laying in bed one morning after the alarm went off, debating the advantage of employment, when I heard a creaking coming from right outside the front door. Looking out the window, I could see a moose standing on the front walk. Actually, I could not see the whole moose, as it was larger than my window frame, but going out to warm up the truck would take some extra precaution.

When I came home that night, I could see the bed the moose made just off my walkway, underneath a large spruce tree. No doubt, it was warmer being up against the cabin like it was. I didn’t mind the sleeping arrangements as much as the several piles of moose droppings, and it was the first time I had ever used ice melt on my walk to break up moose urine.

The next morning, the same thing happened, and I heard the moose get up outside the cabin after the alarm went off.

With the recent rise in temperature, the moose have been sleeping elsewhere, but they still stop by almost daily to trim a few trees.

If moose nuggets were gold…


Buffet

Image credit: Katmai National Park


The Chugach Transients

The Chugach Transients; Photo credit: North Gulf Oceanic Society

Over the past several decades, scientists out of Homer & Seward, Alaska have tracked a pod of killer whales that they have dubbed The Chugach Transients. In 1989, this particular pod swam through the Exxon Valdez oil spill. That year, the pod had 22 members. The following year, nine members had died.

Today, only seven remain, including a 46 year old male known as Egagutak. Individual whales can be identified by photographs, which is what happened with Egagutak this summer, when a tour group sent his photo to the North Gulf Oceanic Society. Individual pods of whales are also identified acoustically, because a pod’s call is unique.

The Chugach Transients have not had a calf in the thirty plus years since the oil spill. The exact reason is not known, but most killer whale pods in Alaska waters are doing well, but the two that swam through the oil spill are not.

At 46 years of age, Egagutak is nearing the end of his lifespan. Killer whale males typically live 45-50 years. The pod also seems to be nearing its end. With no calves being born, this particular pod of killer whale and their unique song will go extinct.

The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council was tasked with spending the money from the civil settlement after the oil spill. They have funded the research into the study of the Chugach Transients until this year, when they decided that the council would no longer support the research.

Sources: North Gulf Oceanic Society, University of Alaska Southeast, Alaska Public Media


Wayward Vulture

A turkey vulture in Chalkyitsik, AK; Photo Credit: Kyle Joseph

A rare bird for Alaska, turkey vultures have been seen in several locations around the state this year. The above photo was taken in Chalkyitsik, which is in the northeast part of the state in the Yukon Flats north of the Yukon River. Turkey vultures have also been documented in Noatak, which is in the northwest part of Alaska, as well as in Juneau.

Their normal range is limited to southern Canada, but these migratory raptors are built for long distance travel. They have been known to travel over 200 miles in a day by just riding the thermals and barely flapping their wings.

There is some evidence that the turkey vulture is expanding its range northward, but hundreds of birds of varying species that are not common to Alaska show up sporadically. Many go unnoticed. For the turkey vulture, it is a tad difficult to travel incognito.


Overdoing the mead…

… in downtown Juneau.

At least they took it outside.