Tag Archives: wildlife

But, you’ll have to check the antlers…

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The moose is a better mascot

A rather cheeky response to Western Airlines.  This was probably a local advert; I spotted it at the Pioneer Air Museum.  It certainly would have been a hit in Alaska in the 1970’s.


Closing a fishery

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Collecting Pacific cod samples; Photo in Public Domain, credit to NOAA

For the first time, the federal government has closed the cod fishery in the Gulf of Alaska for the 2020 season.  The reason: Low stock.

The Blob, a marine heatwave that hit the Gulf in 2014 is taking the blunt of the blame.  Ocean temperatures rose 4-5 degrees, with some areas of the Gulf rising by 7 degrees.  The increase in water temperature killed off young cod.

Cod usually return to the fishery after three years or more.  They can live up to 14 years, and tend to reach a weight of 12 pounds.

After the heatwave, cod numbers crashed from 113,830 metric tons in 2014 to 46,080 in 2017.  The numbers have been dropping ever since.

The closing will have a huge effect on the winter economies of places like Homer and Kodiak.  Prior to The Blob, the fishery was a $50 million industry for Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

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“The Blob” in 2014 and 2019; Image credit: NOAA

Unfortunately, the blob’s sequel looks to be heading back to Alaskan waters.  As of September 2019, the water temp of Blob 2 was only two degrees shy of the original.


#OptOutside 2019

Just think: No lines, no fighting over the last extra large, no pushing or shoving, or trying to find a parking spot.

Opt to go Outside and explore. Every trail leads to an adventure.

If you happen to be in or near Baraboo, Wisconsin, The Leopoldo Center is holding crane viewing events this weekend.


Happy Thanksgiving

Comic credit: Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson

Best comment of the day: “Fairbanks, AK, is a lock to have a White Thanksgiving for the 116th consecutive year. “
Climatologist49

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