ARCTIC TERN

 The Arctic Tern

A small, slender white bird, the Arctic Tern is well known for its long yearly migration. Its travel from its Arctic breeding grounds to its wintering grounds off of Antarctica may cover perhaps 40,000 km (25,000 mi), and is the farthest yearly journey of any bird.

tern on stone (1 of 1)ARCTIC TERN

 

tern nest (1 of 1)ARCTIC TERN ON NEST

tern minnow (1 of 1)ARCTIC TERN CATCHING MINNOW 

tern fish (1 of 1)

 

tern chick (1 of 1) ARCTIC TERN CHICK

tern pair (1 of 1)A DELICATE BALANCING ACT 

tern flight (1 of 1)ARCTIC TERN HOVER 

 

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RED-THROATED LOON

During a 9 hour stopover in Anchorage on our flight home, we decided to spend a ridiculous amount of money on a car rental for one last trip around the city. Very glad we did, as I experienced one of the most magical moments of the entire trip. On the Lake Hood float plane pond ( apparently the busiest in the world!!) I had a close encounter of the best kind with an immature Red-throated Loon. Normally this is a species you only see in the far distance, but this one seemed like he was looking for a friend.

bill (1 of 1)MY NEW FRIEND

I tried talking to the bird softly, encouraging  him to move back  beyond minimum focus distance.

LOON (1 of 1)

Not too often you get a chance for a full frame shot of a Red-throated loon. (Make sure to double click on the image!)

LOON 2 (1 of 1)PIERCING RED EYES

Close up, the loon has an almost alien look. Reminded me of ET!!

LOON 2 (1 of 1)-2END OF THE ROMANCE

Was it something that I said??

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DENALI NATIONAL PARK AND PRESERVE

 Denali National Park and Preserve encompasses 6 million acres of Alaska’s interior wilderness. Its centerpiece is 20,310-ft.-high Denali, North America’s tallest peak. With terrain of tundra, spruce forest and glaciers, the park is home to wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, moose, caribou and Dall sheep.

SIGNPARK ENTRANCE

DENALI BUS (1 of 1)DENALI PARK BUS

Access to the Park is limited to park buses which must be booked in advance. 

denali hdr

 

denali hdr 4

 

denali hdr 5

denali hdr 5

 

denali panorama hdr (1 of 1)-2

MOUNT DENALI (1 of 1)MOUNT DENALI

Mount Denali as seen from approximately 60 miles away.

 

 

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ALYESKA

This year the Alaska pipeline celebrates its 40th birthday.  The project started in 1977 and cost $ 8 billion to complete in then year dollars. This engineering marvel snakes its way from Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope all the way down the state to the southern port of Valdez in Prince William Sound, a total of  800 miles. 

PIPELINE MAPALYESKA PIPELINE MAP

During my recent trip I was fortunate to bookend the pipeline with stops in Prudhoe Bay and Valdez.

OIL PIPELINEALYESKA PIPELINE SNAKES ITS WAY ACROSS THE ALASKAN LANDSCAPE 

The zig-zag design of the pipeline mitigates expansion and contraction due to temperature changes as well as to reduce vulnerability to earthquakes. 

During our drive from Fairbanks to Valdez, the pipeline was our constant companion as it paralleled the Richardson Highway.

pipeline closeupCLOSE UP OF THE FOUR FOOT DIAMETER PIPELINE

PIPELINE SIGNALYESKA SAFETY NOTICE 

pipeline bridgeTANANA RIVER PIPELINE BRIDGE

FBI NOTICEFBI PIPELINE NOTICE

VALDEZ MARINE TERMINALVALDEZ PIPELINE MARINE TERMINAL 

OIL TANKEROIL TANKER AT MARINE TERMINAL DOCK,  VALDEZ

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DENALI HIGHWAY BIRDS

wilson's warbler (1 of 1)WILSON’S WARBLER

 

WHITE CROWNED SPARROW (1 of 1)WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW

WILLOW PTARMIGAN (1 of 1)MALE WILLOW PTARGMIGAN

 

WILLOW PTARMIGAN (1 of 1)-2FEMALE WILLOW PTARGMIGAN

 

WHITE WINGED SCOTER (1 of 1)WHITE-WINGED SCOTER

 

BONAPARTE'S GULL (1 of 1)BONAPARTE’S GULL

RED-NECKED PHALAROPE (1 of 1)RED-NECKED PHALAROPE

 

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (1 of 1)BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER

GREY CHEEKED THRUSH (1 of 1)GREY-CHEEKED THRUSH

 

ARCTIC WARBLER (1 of 1)ARCTIC WARBLER

 

BLACKPOLL (1 of 1)BLACKPOLL WARBLER

REDPOLL (1 of 1)REDPOLL 

 

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DENALI HIGHWAY

Denali Highway is a lightly traveled, mostly gravel highway. It leads from Paxson on the Richardson Highway to Cantwell on the Parks Highway. Opened in 1957, it was the first road access to Denali National Park. Traveling the Denali Highway today is truly a path through awesome wilderness that links travelers to both Alaska’s prehistoric past and gold rush history.

Denali Highway SignSTART OF THE DENALI HIGHWAY IN PAXSON, ALASKA 

Denali Highway Panorama THE WIDE OPEN ROAD  BECKONS

Not for the faint of heart. The Denali Highway demands a good set of tires, a full tank of gas and a good suspension system.

Denali Highway Panorama 3 (1 of 1)PANORAMA VIEW OF THE EPONYMOUS DENALI …. “THE GREAT ONE”

              

DENALI HIGHWAY CAMPERCAMPER VAN NAVIGATES AN S BEND

DENALI BREAKDOWNTRANSPORT HAULING A BREAKDOWN 

Waves of dust consume us with each passing truck on the gravel road.

BILL REIDON THE HUNT FOR THE SMITH’S LONGSPUR 

Hiking at midnight up a remote alpine trail for the elusive Smith’s Longspur which has been known to nest along the Denali Highway.  

grizzily trackFRESH GRIZZLY TRACK

We’re two miles from the car and a good 15 miles from any other human being when we notice the disturbing sign of a fresh Grizzly track. Having neither a weapon or bear spray (and well beyond cell coverage to boot), we decide that discretion is the better part of valour and beat a hasty retreat off the mountain. 

TANGLE RIVER INNTANGLE RIVER INN

Hungry, tired, and greatly disappointed with our Smith’s Longspur fail, we contemplate a night in the car. Pushing on down the road however we happen upon the first accommodation we have seen on the Denali. Despite being past midnight, they take us in and give us a delicious ham and cheese sandwich for a late night/early morning snack. It was delicious! Talk about luck!!

tangle lake pano (1 of 1)TANGLE LAKE PANORAMA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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STELLER’S EIDER

 The Steller’s eider is the smallest eider and breeds along the Arctic coasts of eastern Siberia and Alaska.  The lined nest is built on tundra close to the sea. The following images were captured on the open tundra around Barrow,  Alaska.

STELLER'S EIDER STELLER’S EIDER MALE

steller's eider (1 of 1)STELLER’S EIDER IN TYPICAL HABITAT 

STELLER'S FLIGHT (1 of 1)STELLER’S EIDER IN FLIGHT

 

BROODING PAIR (1 of 1)BROODING PAIR ON TUNDRA POND 

 

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AMERICAN DIPPER

AMERICAN DIPPER POSEAMERICAN DIPPER, ANCHORAGE, ALASKA

The American Dipper is North America’s only truly aquatic songbird. It catches all of its food underwater in swiftly flowing streams by swimming and walking on the stream bottom.

AMERICAN DIPPER WITH FISH AMERICAN DIPPER WITH FISH FRY

AMERICAN DIPPER CLOSED EYES

 American Dipper displaying famous feathered white eyelid during a blink. 

AMERICAN DIPPER FEEDING YOUNGAMERICAN DIPPER FEEDING YOUNG

SALMON HATCHERYSALMON STATUE, WILLIAM JACK HERNANDEZ SPORT FISH HATCHERY

The William Jack Hernandez Sport Fish Hatchery is located in Anchorage next door to the USAF Elmendorf airbase. This spectacular and ultra modern facility is open to the public for free self-guided tours and well worth the visit. Fry is released into the nearby Ship Creek where all of the above photographs were taken. I hate to think of the cost to the taxpayer of Dipper’s fry feast!!

WILLIIAM JACK HERNANDEZ SPORT FISH HATCHERY

 

 

 

 

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SPECTACLED EIDER

The Spectacled Eider is a large sea duck  that tends to occur mainly in areas where travel is difficult for humans — boggy tundra in summer, at sea around pack ice at other times; its winter range far out in the Bering Sea was unconfirmed until recently. Its remote habitat and bizarre, ghostly appearance contribute to its aura of mystery. Spectacled eiders nest within a narrow coastal strip of Alaska and in northeastern Siberia. Female spectacled eiders prefer to nest in sedge meadows and on peninsulas and islands adjacent to tundra ponds such as found around Barrow, Alaska where the following images were obtained.

SPECTACLED EIDER PAIR

SPECTACLED EIDER PAIR FLIGHT

 

SPECTACLED EIDER FLIGHT

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ARCTIC TERN

 A small, slender white bird, the Arctic Tern is well known for its long yearly migration. Its travel from its Arctic breeding grounds to its wintering grounds off of Antarctica may cover perhaps 40,000 km (25,000 mi), and is the farthest yearly journey of any bird.

arctic tern poseARCTIC TERN

ARCTIC TERN HOVER POSE

ARCTIC TERN BALANCING ACT BALANCING ACT

arctic tern nestARCTIC TERN ON NEST

ARCTIC TERN CHICKARCTIC TERN SWALLOWING FISH

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