Tag Archives: wildlife

Breaking Trail

Snow! Finally, we received a nice dumping of snow.

I have 8-9″ of fresh snow outside my door.

I took the snowshoes out for a spin for the first time this season, which required breaking a new trail. The beavers seem to be content within their lodge and under the ice. Any remaining standing trees should be safe until spring thaw, but I’ll keep checking on them.

Otherwise, it was just a nice afternoon out in the woods, checking out the fresh tracks in the new snow. Which includes, for the first time in a few years, lynx tracks. I’ll have to get a trail cam or two out there.


The Goldstream Valley

The Goldstream Valley north of Fairbanks


Sun streaks and beaver dams

Looking across at a new beaver dam

I went for a nice long hike through the Back 400 over the weekend. The dusting of snow that we had earlier, is now long gone. The muskeg is a varied shade of brown these days.

Each step brought a crunch up from the frozen earth. The snap of twigs is amplified in the chilly air. I came across a duck carcass on one frozen puddle. A raven was picking through the feathers that were scattered across the ice. Had the duck been caught in the quickly freezing puddle, or had it been caught by a predator, and the raven only recently found the remains? The scene was a mess of feathers, and I wasn’t confident enough in the ice thickness to venture that far out. Besides, the raven was not looking for my company anyway. Our rabbit population is quite high at the moment, which explains the number of fox in the neighborhood. We have had lynx here in the past as well, but I have not seen any sign of them… yet.

At the creek, I was amused by a pair of beaver. They had been quite busy, building a new dam across the now, slow moving water. It is amazing how many birch and aspen they can cut down in such a short period of time. I pushed my luck as I tried to quietly reach the creek bank. A crunch of tundra caused a double tail slap to come from the creek. These two are more wary of me than the pair in The Pond. Once my presence was known, they kept out of view, and eventually I wandered deeper down the bank to see what else was new in the ever-changing neighborhood.


The ice has come

Bird’s eye view: First day of ice on The Pond. The beaver’s trail can be seen to the left.

For this season, we had the first 24 hour period over the weekend where the temperature did not get above freezing. It came 11 days later than on average.

The Pond received its first full coat of ice by Sunday morning. Thin as it is, one could see where the beaver swam under the ice.

The fire in the wood stove is still not going full time, however. One every other night has been enough to keep the chill out of the cabin. Anything more would drive me out of the building from the heat. As it is, an evening fire requires at least one open window at these temps.


Season’s first snow

First snow on the new beaver lodge

We had the first snowfall of the season on Saturday. Some areas had a few flurries in the air previously, but this is the first one that stuck.

On average, we see our first snow by September 30, and our first snowfall of at least an inch by October 6. So overall, I’d say we are right in the snow median this autumn.


Cabin Life

Spent some more time out at the lake last week. I did do some work to the place, but mainly wanted to get out and enjoy some autumn solitude.

It was quiet out there, rarely did I see more than one other boat on the water, and we seemed to do a little dance where we kept the same distance between ourselves, as we fished various areas of the lake.

I did experience my first earthquake out there. It’s an interesting feeling as the wave flows through the cabin. The quake was centered down in the Willow area, so I’m a bit surprised I felt one from that distance, but after checking their website, the Alaska Earthquake Center had it rated at a 5.2.

No fox were to be seen on this week, but there were swans. One night, I ventured out to the end of the dock past dusk. Two white blobs were visible, and with the binoculars, I could clearly see that they were trumpeter swans. One swan had its head buried under a wing, but the other was at full alert, with head held high. The lookout was not looking in my direction, but I knew it was fully aware of my presence just the same. A further inspection brought two more swans into view.

By morning, I had 13 trumpeters just past the reeds from the dock. I watched them for much of the morning. None of them seemed to be too worried about me. When they paddled off, if a boat cut across the lake, they came back to where I was sitting.

Not a bad way to spend an autumn week.

A foggy morning


The definition of bad timing


Resurrection Bay in B&W

Sailboat heading out to the gulf

Fishing for pinks at the mouth of Lowell Creek

Abandoned pier

Camera: Agfa Billy-Clack 74; Film: Kodak 120 TMax 100


Catch of Day Two

We caught some fish

Normally, we head down to Seward with the idea that we may get one day of fishing in with decent seas. This year, we went down knowing we had perfect weather for the entire time on the coast.

The second day out, we hit the silvers early and often outside of Resurrection Bay. Once we hit our limit there, we came into the Bay for the possibility of three more silvers each. The fishing within Resurrection Bay was considerably slower, but we did catch some cohos.

Since we were planning on being out on the water all day, we wrapped things up by going after rock fish. It took us a couple of stops to find them, but when we did, it was nonstop action. Rock fish are a blast to fish, and they are incredible eating too.

It was a great day out on the water, and I have a nicely stocked freezer as winter approaches.

It’s not full, but the freezer holds some fish


Youth & Salmon

Mouth of Lowell Creek

We spent the morning in the Gulf of Alaska, just outside Resurrection Bay. The fishing was good, but not great. The jelly fish were thick, due to the warmer than normal water temperatures. When I say thick, I mean thick. Every time the lure was brought up, the line, bait & lure were coated in jelly fish snot. It was a mess. By noon, we were covered in the gooey stuff, and the side of the boat would need a thorough cleaning from the endless flicking.

In the afternoon, my companions tried to fish from shore, while I hiked about, camera in hand. There was no sign of cohos in the bay and I had no interest in catching any pink salmon. As a resident, I fully admit to being a salmon snob.

Two local pre-teen boys rode up to the creek mouth on their bicycles, and promptly snagged a pink a piece. There was a fair amount of grumbling from the people who had been at it for a while. The boys came bounding up from the creek with their haul, the youngest commenting that he couldn’t ride home with more than one salmon, when I asked why they had already stopped fishing. He rode off carrying his catch. The older boy had a better system: He hooked the pink salmon over the handlebar through the gills and peddled off with the fish nearly touching the ground.

All I could think of as I watched them peddle away was, “What an incredible place to grow up in.” They had life by the tail.

Silver salmon fillets from Day 1