Tag Archives: Bald eagles

July 14, 2015 Anchor Point, Alaska

Moose Calf

Moose Calf

Last Days on the Kenai Peninsula

Today will be my last day here at the Halibut Cove CG at Anchor Point, thus the end of my time on the Kenai Peninsula. My week in this campground has been a welcome respite from the cramped, noisy conditions I have experienced in most of the places I have camped here on the Kanai. Adequate spacing of sites makes quite the difference.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Scavengers

Scavengers

I’ve spent the last several days checking on the eagles on the beach right here at the campground, as well as watching the fishing charters come home and had the opportunity a couple of days ago of seeing up close and personal what a 380 pound halibut looks like. BIG! The huge fish was stretched across the deck of the charter boat and was easily six feet plus long. I can’t imagine what it must take to fight something that size up through 200 feet of water, I’m not sure I would enjoy the experience, sounds like an awful lot of work to me. I am told that once they reach this size, they are not that great to eat so bringing in something this size is mostly for the bragging rights, I suppose, and $$$ if the angler is entered in one of the lucrative halibut derbies conducted around here.

Scavengers

Scavengers

Giving Up on the Fireweed Shots

Mount Lliamna

Mount Lliamna

The image above is of Mount Lliamna on the far shore of Cook Inlet, taken on one of the few blue sky moments I have encountered here in the past few weeks. This inactive volcano tops out at over 10,000 feet in elevation and is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. The prevailing weather patterns here make days like this quite rare. Most of my month and a half down here around Seward and Homer have consisted of gray, dense cloud cover with rain showers almost every day. Never any heavy rain, just overcast conditions almost daily, not prime weather for any great landscape shots.

Fireweed Above Homer, 1993

Fireweed Above Homer, 1993

Notice the fields full of fireweed in bloom in the distant background ( as well as in the foreground ) of the image above, one I took twenty-two years ago on one of the back roads above Homer. I was really hoping to see this again on this trip, but alas, it was not to be.

After fruitlessly roaming hundreds of miles on all the back roads down here on the tip of the peninsula searching for fields of blooming fireweed, I am forced to give up and head north for my camping reservations in Denali National Park. Here and there I am finding small patches of fireweed in bloom but nowhere am I finding the solid pink fields that I remember from my previous trip here. In another week or two, I am sure they will be here in profusion, but I will be several hundred miles north by then.

Roadside Grazers

Roadside Grazers

Moose, Moose, Moose

One thing I have been quite sucessful at finding around here has been moose!

Mom and Calf

Mom and Calf

That is, cows and calves, but absolutely no bulls, at least not around here.

Roadside Grazers

Roadside Grazers

Roadblock

Roadblock

Roaming all the back roads in my fruitless search for fireweed landscapes has put me in close quarters with many moose mamas and their offspring.

Moose Calf

Moose Calf

Moose Calf

Moose Calf

And it isn’t just out in the boonies that I encounter these guys, I had quite a bit of luck near town on Skyline Drive as well as at the end of East End Road. I imagine that the moms are clever enough to realize that the close proximity to humans and their dwellings, rather than being a bad thing, is actually a much safer spot for their offspring because of the lower incidence of predators this close to humans.

Posing

Posing

Curious Moose Calf

Curious Moose Calf

Curious Moose Calf

Curious Moose Calf

Today, on my last trip into Homer, I encountered this mom and calf grazing along the very end of Skyline Drive. With no traffic, and thus no disturbance, I was able to shoot a ton of images from the car without disturbing this duo. The calf, at first very unsure of what to make of my presence, was particularly endearing. Twice during the half hour I spent with them, the calf approached my vehicle to a distance of only twenty feet or so, staring and sniffing, trying to figure out what I was. Mama fed contentedly and unalarmed just a little farther back.

Staying in your vehicle, not getting out and trying to get closer, is one of the best ways to get some closeup shots of these guys, not to mention safer, since mother moose can be quite protective of their youngsters.

A Painful Lesson?

A Painful Lesson?

Junior was experimenting with various types of plants, to see just what was palatable, here sampling Cow Parsnip, not sure this is something that they actually do eat,

I'll Try Anything Once

I’ll Try Anything Once

here trying a bit of metal, heck, how do you know if you don’t try,

Too Far to Reach

Too Far to Reach

and here trying to sample some short mowed grasses, but their long legs make it difficult to graze anything that low to the ground, so …

Getting Down to Business

Getting Down to Business

he has to kneel down to partake, something you also see that they have to do when drinking from a shallow water source.

Scratching an Itch

Scratching an Itch

These calves are a delight to observe as they go about discovering their new world, but as I head farther north I hope I can can locate some of these guys Dads.

And so I depart the Kenai Peninsula, heading first to Anchorage, and the Toyota dealersip there for my 40,000 mile routine maintenance service, then a little farther north to the Wasilla area for a few days of exploration, before continuing north to Denali National Park and my reservations within the park at the Telanika Campground at the end of the month.

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July 10, 2015 Anchor Point, Alaska

Beach Flight

Beach Flight

Hanging Around Anchor Point

Well, after a two plus week stay at The Fishing Hole Campground on Homer Spit, I finally just couldn’t take it any more, so moved about 30 miles north to the Halbut Cove Campground in Anchor Cove. I developed a real love/hate relationship with the campground on Homer Spit and in a way, really hated to leave. Waking at 4 or 5 in the morning and sitting back in the recliner having my morning coffee, while watching the sun rise, or birds and boat activity on Kachemak Bay, or the early rising fisherman trying their luck for King Salmon along the beach, made for a wonderful, peaceful morning. I also had a couple of great neighbors while I was there, people I will feel comfortable meeting up with again back down in the lower forty-eight.

But then there unfortunately were the other kind of neighbors, you know, the ten percent factor, the ten percent that cause ninety percent of all the problems anywhere when in a crowded environment. Actually, I would like to think it’s more like three to five percent, but boy, do they ever make their presence known. The campground on the Spit, like most places I have stayed in here in Alaska, has everybody right on top of one another, and most people are considerate of their neighbors, the do onto others rule. During my stay I had a sucession of thoughtless individuals who thought nothing of leaving their barking dogs confined in their rig all day while they went out on a fishing trip, or who would run their noisy generators, or their motorhome’s engine when they didn’t have a generator, and would run it for five or six hours at a time and couldn’t even abide by the quiet time rule of eleven PM.

But the most persistant problem was barking dogs. I will never understand how someone can sit at their campsite with their German Shepherd barking at everything that moves, and remember this is a packed campground with fishing activity twenty four hours a day, sit right next to their constantly barking dog, and not ever even attempt to silence it. There is no campground host or any kind of official presence in the campground, so these few inconsiderate individuals can get away with anything they happen to feel like inflicting on all the others in the campground.

Halibut Cove Campground, Anchor Point

Anchor Point Halibut Cove CG

Anchor Point Halibut Cove CG

Just look at all that wonderful space between the campsites !!!!

Anchor Point Halibut Cove CG

Anchor Point Halibut Cove CG

There are maybe 8 or 10 sites that could accomodate a large motorhome, all back-in sites, no hookups. no dump station, and the only water is a hand pump station. No dumpster for trash either. But there IS space between the sites and after Homer, that just seems so nice. I am able to get a decent, not great, internet signal here, and my over the air TV antenna picks up 10 stations. Each site is flat, has a picnic table and a fire ring. The beach is just a very short walk away, as is the Anchor Point boat launching area.

Anchor Point, The End of the Road

Anchor Point Beach Boat Launch

Anchor Point Beach Boat Launch

Anchor Point’s claim to fame is that it is the most westerly point in North America that you can drive to … the road ends here, at the beach boat launching parking lot.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Anchor Point Beach Boat Launch

Anchor Point Beach Boat Launch

A novel use for logging skidders.

Anchor Point Beach Boat Launch

Anchor Point Beach Boat Launch

The extreme swing of tides in Cook Inlet and the soft sand make it pretty much impossible for individuals to launch their fishing boats, so that is where these heavy duty, wide tired rigs do their thing, for a hefty fee I would imagine. And when the fish are running, they are kept quite busy. Every time I walked down there, the parking lot was full to overflowing.

Anchor Point Beach Boat Launch

Anchor Point Beach Boat Launch

There are hundreds of gulls gathered here on the beach waiting for the launchings to begin, and several eagles also ( see below ). Apparently the large wheeled skidders stir up a lot of tasty tidbits when they drive out into the water and the gulls then drop down to pick up whatever is stirred up.

Anchor Point Beach Boat Launch

Anchor Point Beach Boat Launch

Yes, that is a volcano in the background, across Cook’s Inlet.

Anchor Point Beach Boat Launch

Anchor Point Beach Boat Launch

Anchor Point Beach Boat Launch

Anchor Point Beach Boat Launch

I wonder how long the skidders survive in this nasty salt water environment.

Bald Eagles on the Beach

Today there were about fifteen bald eagles scattered up and down the beach, with the majority of them being juveniles. Don’t know if that is because this is a great place to raise youngsters or if it might be because it happens to be an easy place to scavenge, which they probably find easier than hunting their food.

Beach Takeoff

Beach Takeoff

Bald Eagle Landing

Bald Eagle Landing

Breakfast on the Beach

Breakfast on the Beach

The eagles have first dibs over the gulls when a fish carcass is uncovered.

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Juvenile eagles seem to have no concerns about trying to scare adults off their meals as this one was doing in the image above. He came flying in and landed all but on top of an adult trying to knock the adult off it’s fish. The adult ended up standing his ground though.

Wildlife Image Collections

Because of weak intermittant internet signals in my travels the last several months, I have all but given up, for now, at least, on getting all my bird and wildlife, and landscape, images loaded on to my website, mcqallery.com. But I have been able to upload several of my bird, and some wildlife, collections to my Google + site. If you are interested in seeing my Hummingbird shots, Bald Eagles, Whooping Cranes, or any of several other collections, just click on the Google + or the Picassa logo in the box at the top of the sidebar on the righthand side of this page.

 

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June 24, 2015 Homer, Alaska

Homer Spit From Skyline Drive

Homer Spit From Skyline Drive

Waiting it Out in Homer

( This is a little out of sequence, but I just noticed this older blog post never was published, so here it is. Better late than never. )

Not much to report or show here as I wait out a spell of poor weather here on the Homer Spit. In the image above, I am camped about two thirds of the way out on the Spit, on the beach, facing down towards the end of the bay ( to the left ). The combination of gray, overcast weather, the forest fires and their smoke in the areas that are next on my list of destinations, and the worry about traveling, and finding a place to camp, during the busy fourth of July holiday period, made me decide to just sit here on the Homer Spit and wait it out. The rainy weather should help the firefighters to bring the fires north of here under control and maybe the smoke will be cleared out by next week and I can proceed north through Anchorage and up to Wasilla and Willow. And since I am already camped in a pleasant location and can stay here through the holiday weekend, I have decided to do just that.

I haven’t been able to get out and do any photography with the lousy weather conditions so I have been plowing through my small library of paperbacks, three in the last five days.

Glaciers Across Kachemak Bay

Glaciers Across Kachemak Bay

I have been able to get a few shots from up on the Skyline Drive high above Homer, but unfortunately, the only time there have been any nice blue skies have been at the worst possible time of day for photos, only when the sun is high in the sky at midday. And even then there is still a heavy hazy air layer over the bay making the spectacular mountains and glaciers across Kachemak Bay impossible to clearly define. It seems every day when the light is best at dawn or duck, there is a marine layer of clouds and fog hanging over the bay and obscuring the mountains on the far side of the bay.

Kachemak Bay Pano

Kachemak Bay Pano

So for now, this is the best I can do with these breathtaking scenes, and I’m afraid it’s not very good. But, I still have a week to go, and maybe there will be some better conditions to come. I am also beginning to run out of hope that the fireweed will bloom in time for me to get any shots of the solid pink meadows above Homer

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Looking Down on East End Road

Looking Down on East End Road

I have to confess to being a fan of the Discovery Channel’s ” Alaska, the Last Frontier ” reality series. As any of you would know if you watch the series, the Kilcher family homesteads 600 acres along Kachemak Bay off of the East End Road outside of Homer, and the series shows all the joys and challenges of the homesteading life in the Alaskan wilderness. Well, it turns out that “wilderness” might just be a bit of a stretch. The image above pretty much shows what that wilderness looks like. After driving out to see if I could actually locate the Kilcher homestead, it turns out that one of the worst wilderness struggles the Kilcher family faces would be the often times heavy commuter and tourist traffic on the East End Road. Though a little disappointing to find out that they don’t actually live in some remote Alaskan wilderness, i think I’ll probably still continue to enjoy watching the show, they are a bunch of interesting folks.

Bald Eagle Portrait

Bald Eagle Portrait

My Daily Eagle Fix

Every day i am coaxed out my reading chair, rain or shine ( and it is mostly rain right now ), as the three or four resident bald eagles fly by, land on the beach in front of me, or do something else to grab my attention. Today, with a little blue sky above, I had only to walk around to the rear of my motorhome to catch this handsome individual perched atop a utility pole, keeping a hopeful watch on the fisherman cleaning their catch here in the campground.

Though it is illegal to feed the eagles, they sit up there and watch as the many gulls will occassionally fly up into the small dumpster provided for the fish remains, and grab a bit of fish. If the gull then lands in the parking lot instead of instantly flying away with his bit of fish, the eagle will swoop down from the pole and steal the gulls prize, fly off to devour it, then soon returns to his position atop the pole, waiting for the next opportunity to steal from the gulls.

Keeping an Eagle Eye on the Fish Cleaning Station

Keeping an Eagle Eye on the Fish Cleaning Station

Ben Franklin may have been right !

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June 20, 2015 Homer, Alaska

Cottongrass

Cottongrass

Wildflowers and Wildlife

Cottongrass

Cottongrass

Driving all the back roads above the city of Homer, I run across patches of wildflowers here and there, nothing like the fields of wildflowers you may find in the west, in the lower forty-eight, but still a visual treat when you do discover them. This is a particularly dense patch of cotton grass growing alongside the road, a very neat plant I was able to get some nice shots of very early in the morning before the breeze came up.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Cottongrass

Cottongrass

Columbine

Columbine

I really haven’t come across much Columbine, just a couple of plants here and there, again nothing like in the mountainside meadows of Colorado for instance.

Jacob's Ladder

Wild Geranium

Wild Geranium is starting to appear more frequently.

Impossibly Blue

Impossibly Blue

And this is not a wildflower, but some form of perennial that caught my eye in a bed next to East End Road. I am not sure what this impossibly blue flower is as I have never seen it before, and I used to pour theough all the perennial flower catalogs back when I managed almost a half acre of perennials at my art gallery.

Impossibly Blue

Impossibly Blue

Homer Perennial Bed

Homer Perennial Bed

Gorgeous flower in a very nicely designed perennial bed.

Lupines

Lupines

Lupines

Lupines

And then there is the lupine … everywhere it seems. Unlike back in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, here there is only one color, this blue, or perhaps purple. At least I have yet to find any other color here.

Boatyard Lupine

Boatyard Lupine

As I said, lupine, everywhere.

Virginis

Virginis

Fireweed Road

Fireweed Road

What I am patiently waiting for, here in Homer, is for the fireweed to start blooming. I think it is a real shame this wonderful plant is labeled as a weed because it is just a beautiful flower that fills the fields and roadsides here above Homer.

Fireweed Farm

Fireweed Farm

Thes two images kind of illustrate that point quite well, and just happen to be images taken on the back roads above Homer some twenty two years ago on my last visit here. I have actually been able to locate the fireweed farm location and would like to get an image to show the penalties of progress. That wonderful scene is now bisected with dirt roads leading to not so scenic homes breaking up the previous expanse of fireweed, and though I’m sure a lot of the plant still survives, the beauty of that particular landscape has fallen victim to progress.

Angry Beach Eagle

Angry Beach Eagle

Takeoff

Takeoff

I enjoy watching the antics of the bald eagles on the beach every morning while I have my coffee. This guy was doing his angry eagle walk up the beach heading directly at me until my neighbor came out and slammed his door only thirty feet from the eagle and scared him off. There used to be a woman who fed the eagles here on the Homer Spit for many years so a lot of these birds probably are somewhat accustomed to approaching humans looking for handouts, though now it is illegal to feed them.

Homer Spit Breakwater Gulls

Homer Spit Breakwater Gulls

Homer Spit Breakwater Gulls

Homer Spit Breakwater Gulls

As I walked around the boat harbor very early in the AM I was startled by the number of gulls on the breakwater there.

Ring-necked Pheasant and Chicks

Ring-necked Pheasant and Chicks

And this one really suprised me, what I am quite sure has to be a Ring-necked Pheasant mom and chicks feeding along the dirt road at the end of East End Road. I had no idea these birds could survive this far north.

Ring-necked Pheasant Chick

Ring-necked Pheasant Chick

Moose and Calf

Moose and Calf

Moose Calf

Moose Calf

And finally my daily dose of moose. This mom was feeding along the edge of the road and when I stopped to watch, her calf came struggling up through the deep grass behind her. As the cow continued to move forward and browse, her calf was having a really hard time trying to keep up with her movements. At first I thought maybe the tall grass and bushes were just so thick, and tall, that perhaps that was it’s problem.

Mom and Injured Calf

Mom and Injured Calf

But when they finally crossed the road, it became quite clear that the poor little guy had somehow broken, or severely injured his left hind leg and was hobbling along on three legs.

Moose Calf

Moose Calf

Barely one in three moose calves survive their first summer, most here on the Kenai fall victim to black bears or grizzlies, although there is also a growing presence of wolves in the area. Not being able to run or keep up with a protective mom probably will mean a short life for this guy. Mother Nature is cruel.

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