Alaska's Winter Horizon

Alaska's Winter Horizon

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Another blast of winter

Greg has been out birding again as you can tell from these pictures. This redpoll finch is a beautiful little bird.
These small songbirds are foragers and quick to take advantage of bird feeders here. There is a flock of over a hundred that are constantly at a feeder right around the corner. It's no telling how many pounds of seeds they have consumed in the last few months! This picture is an adult male.
 They usually have a red tinge on the breast area. Redpolls are hardy little birds who live year-round in the Arctic tundra and boreal forests.
Another staple of the winter landscape here in Anchorage is the common raven.
They are in the family corvidae. These huge birds are amongst the very smartest of any birds. Ravens are completely black- feathers, eyes, beaks, and legs. They are not as social as crows, but when a good feeding opportunity presents itself, many will gather to take advantage. They can measure as long as 32 inches with a wingspan approaching 5 feet!
 Ravens are quite the survivalists, they will eat most anything and can live in even the most far north regions of Alaska in the harsh winters. Check out the crazy way he turns his head as he calls out.
Here are a few pictures of my school's yard in its new coat of snow.
We had a blizzard warning last Friday night but it was cancelled that night. However, Sunday and Monday we did manage to pick up over a foot of new snow.

 Tuesday night the temps dipped below 0 again. We are still waiting for spring in Alaska.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

End of Fur Rondy

Here are the last pictures we took during the Fur Rondy Celebration this year. The festival ended with the beginning of the Iditarod on March 3rd. That race has officially ended with Mitch Seavey winning this year. At 56 years old, he is the oldest person to win the race so far. His son, Dallas, was the youngest to win it last year. That Sunday, we walked down the big hill from the carnival to see the snow sculptures.

As usual, there were some strong contenders.

 Here is one of the winners, The Ole Bull and Chain.

Unfortunately, we didn't get there before he lost one of his horns! Still, it was a magnificent piece of art. Another interesting one was this Tiki creation.

 It is always interesting to marvel at the craftsmanship that goes into making these. I would have a hard time picking my favorite.

 Here is Greg beside the sculpture created in his likeness. Wow, almost a mirror image!

 I know the first day of spring is just hours away, but not for me. Tonight our low is 0 to 5 degrees.  I don't think it got above freezing today. Still plenty of snow on the ground! Far from the 70s I got to experience last week when I journeyed down to Tennessee for spring break. But at least we are getting 12 hours of sunlight a day. We are gaining more sunlight every day. Makes me hopeful that spring is just around the corner for us.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Iditarod 2013 begins

Woke up Saturday to a very foggy morning. We went out to watch the ceremonial start of  Iditarod XLI. Despite the fog, there was a good size crowd all along the downtown route.

On the plus side, this was by far the warmest of the four years that we have watched the start in Anchorage. It was in the mid 20s this morning.

We did arrive a bit late and missed a few of the crowd favorites, Martin Buser and Lance Mackey. Greg got his spot on the sideline in time to get a few pictures of 2011 winner, John Baker.

 He holds the record for the quickest time in completing the run to Nome.

Here is a pic of Jeff King, 4 time Iditarod winner.

His last win was in 2006.

 Dallas Seavey won last year's Iditarod race.
At 25 years old, he was the youngest person to win the race.
 The race usually lasts between 9 and 12 days. Should be a good one!