Tag Archives: geese

The sound of moving water

Welcome back


The thaw has finally come to the north.  Running water, which has not been visible for several months now, can be found at every turn.  The change of seasons, so dramatic towards the ends of the earth, is an adventure to experience every year.

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The melt is slowly crossing The Pond

The transition season in Alaska’s Interior is a quick one, as a friend recently reminded me.  As I wrote earlier, it has been years since I experienced the spring thaw in its entirety.  I’m enjoying break up, even though boots are often required to experience the melt, close up and personal.

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Creamers Field

The snow is all gone out at Creamers Field, the local waterfowl sanctuary.  The field was loaded with geese, ducks, a few sandhill cranes, and more trumpeter swans than I usually see out there.  The swans arrived early, and are taking advantage of the retired dairy farm.  I took the Leica out there, so we will eventually see if anything will come out of those pictures.  The swans were putting on a show that day, so hopefully I captured something on film worth sharing.


Spring has arrived to the Last Frontier

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The melt has started

The temperature on Easter Sunday reached 56F degrees in Fairbanks.  The last time we broke the 50 degree barrier was on September 30.

My daily hikes have been taking place in the morning now.  Partly, because the day is usually wide open for interpretation, but mainly because the snowpack is still firm early in the day.  Breaking trail gets old in a hurry.  The mukluks will be retired any day now for the rubber breakup boots.

Our length of day has surpassed 15 hours.  In fact, length of visible light, has gone over 17 hours.  The northern lights have been out, but they are already faint, unless they put on a show around 2am.  Soon, we will not see them again, until late August.

Rabbits can be seen morning & evening, bounding over the massive piles of snow with ease.  Already, the new brown fur is mixing with the white of winter.  An owl can be heard at night, hooting off in the distance, and I have seen the tracks of lynx, but the wary cat has evaded my camera traps.  Neither the owl nor the lynx seem to have put much of a dent in the rabbit population.  The frisky bunnies seem as numerous, if not more so, than last year.

Plow it, and they will land: 

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Creamer’s Field on Wednesday

At the end of last week, the annual plowing of Creamer’s Field happened.  The old dairy farm is now a migratory waterfowl refuge.  The field is used to tempt waterfowl away from Fairbanks International Airport.  Fairbanks has an annual lottery on when the first Canadian goose lands at Creamer’s.  It’s not as widely bet on as the Nenana Ice Classic, but it may be as closely followed.  Creamer’s saw its first arrival on Sunday the 12th.  However, for only the second time since 1976, it wasn’t a Canadian honker that landed first, but a pair of trumpeter swans.  When I was out there on Wednesday, the swans were off in the distance and ducks were flying in, and landing on the puddles.  The woodchucks are also out and about at the refuge.

This is the first month of April that I have spent in Alaska since 2003!  I always leave around the end of March, if not earlier, to get some traveling in, and head to the Frozen Four Hockey Championship, wherever that may be held.  It’s a bit odd for me to be here to watch the snow melt.

With the above average snowfall this past season, and the quick upturn in temperature, we are in for a very messy breakup with winter.


September!

Fireweed gone to seed

Of the twelve months, September is my favorite in Interior Alaska. That holds true even though I know what lies just around the corner.

The length of days would be considered “normal” in the Outside world. Sunrise on the final day of August was 6:29am, with sunset coming in at 9:12pm, for a loss of 7 minutes from the day before.

Mornings carry a heavy dew, and there is a definite chill to the air. We have already seen several nights with a hard frost. A hike down any trail is likely to bring the scent of woodsmoke from a cabin or two. Finally, the scent comes from chimneys and not wildfires.

The change of colors has started

The sound of cranes and geese filled the air today, as they gather their flocks for the trip south. A bull moose showed himself this morning; his massive set of antlers now devoid of velvet. For the next two weeks, I expect he will make himself scarce.

Finishing preparations for the coming winter likely dominate thoughts, but one can not forget to get outside and enjoy the brilliance of this month of transformation.

As much as I love the long days of June, I revel in the colorful days of September.


Vernal Equinox

March 20 means that spring has sprung, and for Fairbanks, it actually feels like spring on the first day of spring. Alaska, the Yukon and Northwest Territories have all seen record temps the past few days, and all three have seen 70F degrees this month. It is the earliest on record for all of us to hit that mark.

The third, and final Supermoon of the year is also taking place on the first day of spring. This full moon, is also known as the Worm Moon. Not as catchy as the Super Blood Wolf Moon, but as it historically signals when worms start coming out of the frozen earth, I can get into the Worm Moon. Quite honestly, even though this has been an insanely mild winter in the far north, I am more than ready for spring. I only have three salmon fillets left in my freezer.

Goose watching season has also begun here in Fairbanks. Alaskans are easily entertained, so we have an annual bet on when the first Canadian Goose shows up at Creamer’s Field. Whoever guesses the date and time of the first goose landing, without going over, wins $500.

Fairbanks Weather Almanac for March 20:

High temp………………….. +39F
Low temp…………………… +26F

Record high………………… +56F
Record low…………………. -37F

Average high……………….. +28F
Average low………………… – 1F

Sunrise……………………. 7:52am
Sunset…………………….. 8:07pm
Length of day………………. 12 hrs 15 mins
….. For a gain of 6 mins 44 secs from yesterday


Honkers