Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Alaska Wildlife Photos

Along the Turnagain Arm on the Seward Highway near the town of Portage (outside of Anchorage) is an area of geographical distinction. You can tell as you drive by that something is very wrong here. The next two photos speak to that event. The same 1964 earthquake that severely damaged Anchorage and wiped out all of old Valdez and much of Seward, changed things forever here as well. Buildings, land, trees, everything here on the side of the tidal bay was LOWERED by about 8 feet. This created a marsh area where once Terra Firma had been present. The quake didn't knock the trees down, but as the soil was lowered, slowly but surely the salt water from the bay crept into the root systems of the Spruce trees and killed them off one by one. Many of them (and a handful of small buildings) are still standing and giving testament to the times. While the life in the trees is long gone, they still provide habitat for Alaskan wildlife, and so it is fitting that lands have been set aside in this area for a wildlife conservation area. One can drive through the region and expect to see plenty of the natives playing in their natural surroundings and maybe even posing for a picture or two. Here's a few of mine with just a few lines of comment:The old spruce trees and the surviving buildings, above and below, have all weathered to a soft gray, but are interesting against the fresh green of the marsh and the bluish tint of the mountains. Other than the glacial ice and snow, much of the mountain top snow has not melted, even though it is already mid-July. A Bald Eagle finds the salt water terminated spruce tree to be the perfect vantage point for resting while he keeps a sharp eye out for prey.
Bears love water; here's the evidence. Clicking on the photos to enlarge will greatly enhance the images.
This old grizzly was throwing balls of mud from the bottom of the lake up in the air, then jumping up to catch them before they could hit the water. He was a lot faster at doing that than I was at snapping the shutter on the digital camera, which is slow to begin with with. But it reminded me of "cannonballs." Run to the edge of the water, jump, tuck yourself into a ball and make as big a splash as you can. Note in the photo the large depression in the water as the bear falls back into it....all the while he kept an eye on me to make sure I was not up to any mischief of my own.
"Hey! What are you doing over there? Don't make me come over there!!!"
This moose was munching some alder trimmings along the edge of the pathway. We have seen many of them doing this along the way- even along crowded and busy roads. We have even seen some in downtown Anchorage, where they actually keep the airport runway fenced in to keep the moose and the wolf packs off of it.
Same moose, but with a bald eagle in the tree behind him in the distance.
Two young Grizzlies and a Magpie...
"Here, fishy, fishy...." The battle cry of my grouper fishing pals back in Florida. The prey here is salmon.

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